CBPCurrency SeizureSeizuresU.S.Customs

Help! U.S. Customs Took My Money at the Airport

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 1, 2010 101 Comments

You may legally carry or mail any amount of money you want into or out of the United States, but if it is more than $10,000 at one time, you better first report it to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Otherwise, you risk U.S. Customs taking it from you, and never getting it back. Why?  Because your failure to report the international transportation of money is a violation of the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act.

All too often, I am contacted by a distraught American citizen or resident returning from a trip overseas, or a foreign visitor to the United States, who was unaware of the laws regarding currency reporting.  The person was asked by a U.S. Customs officer upon arrival at the international airport if he or she was carrying over $10,000. When the passenger honestly answer “yes”, or the U.S. Customs officer believes the passenger may be lying about the amount of money being transported, the passenger and his or her luggage are examined.  If over $10,000 in monetary instruments, including travelers checks and U.S. or foreign money, is discovered, and the required form, FINCEN Form 105, has not been filed with U.S. Customs, all of the money is likely to be seized on the spot by U.S. Customs.

A formal Seizure Notice will eventually be issued by U.S. Customs to the passenger, and the passenger may hire a customs attorney to pursue the administrative petition process to get the money (or most of it) back.  Proof of the legitimate source of the money and proof of the legitimate intended use of the money are required in communicating with Customs.  Eventually, after several months, Customs may return typically 90% of the money.

It is an expensive mistake to not report to U.S. Customs when either carrying, mailing, or receiving over $10,000 internationally.  Please read U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s “Currency Reporting” requirements and look at the FINCEN Form 105 and its instructions before attempting to transport over $10,000.  There are no customs duties, taxes or other fees paid to U.S. Customs for the international transportation of the money; it is merely a reporting requirement to U.S. Customs.

My firm and I are greatly experienced with these matters, having handled hundreds of these types of cases nationwide. This is a Federal process most often done through email, telephone and snail mail correspondence with the Federal Government and so we can help no matter where in the country you are located or your monies were seized. Although we are located in South Florida, we handle cases all over the country. 

We have a webpage dedicated to Currency Seizures HERE with REAL SEIZURE NOTICE examples from CBP, a video describing the process and a sampling of some of our REAL successful results.

*Successful Past Results

Some REAL examples include:

  • $54,000 Seized by CBP – $49,000 Returned to our client
  • $50,800 Seized by CBP – $45,800 Returned to our client
  • $39,000 Seized by CBP – $36,500 Returned to our client
  • $37,360 Seized by CBP – $33,500 Returned to our client
  • $31,062 Seized by CBP – $28,562 Returned to our client
  • $16,334 Seized by CBP – $15,334 Returned to our client

Additional blog posts on currency seizures may be found HERE.

Contact us at info@diaztradelaw.com today to discuss your specific case.

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Kevin DC February 7, 2010 at 9:12 am

Your article implies that when the traveler answers “Yes” to the Inspector’s oral question, that the money will be seized if the FincCEn form 105, Currency and Monetary Instrument Report (CMIR), has not been completed. That’s not a likely outcome. In order for the money to be seized, there has to be evidence that the person had knowledge of the reporting requirement and knowingly failed to report it. Here’s how that works, before a passenger arrives at an airport, they are provided a Customs declaration to complete, that form includes a question about transporting more than $10K in cash or monetary instruments. If the person answers yes, they are flagged for secondary inspection where they are provided the CMIR to complete. Upon completion, the inspector may choose to verify the funds. If the form was completed accurately and truthfully the form is accepted and the traveler is free to depart—with all his money. However, lets say that the traveler indicates on the form that he is in possession of USD $10,001 but upon verification the Inspector discovers $25,000, then all the money will be seized and the traveler will have to petition CBP for the return of the money—a mitigated penalty is the likely outcome of such a scenario, not total forfeiture.

Another likely scenario, would be the passenger initially completing the Customs Declaration by answering “No” to the question, if he is asked by the Inspector if he has over $10, 000 and subsequently answers “yes” he will be allowed to complete the CMIR form and will not have his money seized—although a thorough secondary exam will likely ensue.

If the traveler answers “No” on the written declaration and orally to the inspector, then seizure is assured. Also, a likely visit by an ICE agent and possible criminal charges if a connection to other criminal activity is suspected. If no criminal charges, a mitigated penalty is still the likely outcome.

Rons October 14, 2016 at 9:40 am

Just wondering if you have two adult travellers and they both carrying 9 thousand each, will they need to declare it still or is it okaay?

Jennifer Diaz October 14, 2016 at 3:18 pm

We have many blog posts discussing what constitutes a family and what the reporting requirements are – check them out here:http://customsandinternationaltradelaw.com/category/u-s-customs-2/currency-seizure/

For specific legal advice for yourself, contact us at info@diaztradelaw.com for a consultation.

Peter Quinter February 9, 2010 at 8:34 pm

The published comment by “Kevin DC” is absolutely correct as to current U.S. Customs and Border Protection policy and procedure. Thank you Kevin for adding more details in real-life type situations that travelers face everyday when arriving at international airports or other ports of entry into the United States.

Pongwut Danchaivijitr June 27, 2010 at 5:23 am

Officer seized all of my money (about 25000 USD) and release me 1000 USD for spending. Please advise what should I do next? I do not have any intention to falsely reported.

Anthony September 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

I sent a cashier’s check > 10K$ over from Canada to USA by Fedex. I did not know the rule/law, and Fedex did not let me know neither. Fedex just declared it as a document and ask me to sign. Now US Customs seized the check. After petition, they ask me to pay a penalty in the amount that I can not afford. So I am sending an Offer In Compromise in the amount that I am able to, and waiting for their answer.

It looks like Customs has no right to seize my check?
If I do not pay the penalty, do US Customs have the power to forfeit or cash the check written to someone’s name as payee?

I appreciate your quick feedback here on your website. Thanks

Guy October 2, 2010 at 5:00 am

Thank you for this great website and posting. Today, ( 10/01/2010) , my family member arrived to the US, declaring only $8000. She was then stopped and got checked, US customs found out that she has carried more than $17,000 in Cash. Obviously, this was a false reporting on her behalf which she didn’t know the law and reporting act. At this point, she was very shocked this has happened to her because all of her money was taken. my question is ” What is the chances to get back most of the money? ” after a false reporting amount? Can you recommend me how to file and combat this situation by filling the necessary forms and to pay a minimal service or attoney fees to get this back? I feel very frustrated this has happened to her and feel in her shoe. Honestly, as a US citizen, I don’t know much about the US Laws in resolving this issue and I would appreciate your time to help on this situation. Thank you much for your help.

HK, Florida October 25, 2010 at 7:41 pm

When filing a petition with U.S. Cusoms & Border Protection to reclaim seized assets, you stated, “Proof of the legitimate source of the money and proof of the legitimate intended use of the money are required in communicating with Customs.” What qualifies as “proof,” especially if the source of that money was from working overseas in a foreign country? Do they need a copy of my bank statements? U.S. Tax returns? Bills paid, etc.? Also, what is the best format for a petition and what informatin should be included?

tesfaye October 25, 2010 at 11:00 pm

I think this is the right place to get the right information about seised money. On October 2nd 2010 I had a plan to go Germany. I was carried $25,000 in cash. When I arrived at the airport, it was 20 minutes before bordering open, and the the person who check me in told me that no time to spend doing anything beside to go. By the time I have the filled out form of FINCEN Form 105but no time to submitted. So I thought it was ok to tell the truth about what happened. Unfortunately, the custom protection officer checked me and seized that I had. Now, I am preparing to petition but I don’t not what I have to do. Please help me.

TK November 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I have been living overseas for the past two years working with an NGO and I am preparing to return to the US. I have over 10000 in US currency that I will be traveling with. Most of these funds have come from liquidating our household items as we are not returning.Our items were sold to Xpats yardsale stlye. Do I need any other documentation other than the finCEN FORM 105? Do I wait for the customs officer to request the finCen 105 after I give them Form 6059B or do I need to register the Form 105 formally.Thought about wiring some so I can avoid the whole issue. Can’t afford to lose these monies.

Ani Nahapetian December 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Hi i have a question ? US Customs and Border took 16,000 $ from my cousin in LAX airport. And that money was belong to me because my mom sent that for me from my country . i know it was his fault because he should claim that money but for some reasons he did not . now after almost 2 months they send him a letter and they are giving him 5 Options . i am just wondering if we have to get an attorney , or should we go ahead and choose one of the options ??

If you want a roof put on your house, you hire a roofer. If you have a medical problem, go see a doctor, Depending upon the medical problem, you might need to see a specialist. If you have a legal problem, go see a lawyer. If you have a legal problem with U.S. Customs, see a customs lawyer who specializes in this type of work. It’s that simple. Good luck.

MIKE December 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Hi, Last month my spouse and I were carring $10500 on a trip overseas, we assumed that each person can carry up to $10 K in cash so we had a little over $5000 each and we did not report it. Before we boarded the plane we were called for an inspection by CBP officers and searched, they counted our cash and had us fill out “FinCen form 105”, we kept our cash and left on our trip.
Should we expect a letter or be called by CBP? or that was the end of it.

Thank you.

AW December 22, 2010 at 7:53 am


I recently got my US green card and am in the process of relocating permanently to the US. I just sold my house in Canada and I plan to get the money from my house closing into the US as a cashier’s check. (it is about $152000). I will be crossing the border by road. What proof do I need to carry about the source of the funds?
I have the FN 105 form filled out in my name, although my wife and I were equal owners of the house. Is that a problem?

Thank you!

Rod December 29, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Last month I mailed from Guam a package containing 4 money orders for a $1000 each purchased through USPS and a $1000 cash, the package was heading to L.A. to repay a loan I have with a friend. One week ago we received a notice from Homeland Security/CBP saying that they had seized the package to my surprise due to suspicious illegal activity. I have no idea how they came up with this, I asked at the postal service the procedures for mailing money and if it was legal to mail that amount in cash and they said yes. My question is what do I need to do to get this package/money back? Thank you for your time, if i need representation I will definitely call you.

shawn December 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm

my friend was leaving lax nov 22 2010 he claime that he has $4000.00 after inspection by CBP he have $34,700.00 do you think he get it back ?

Peter Quinter

tony January 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm

this is a very informative web site – do you have any idea where I would go to file the 105 form at LAX when leaving the country? I cant find any info on line not even on the CBP website. Now that I know that I have to file it – where do I go to get that done is it at the airport or somewhere else – is there time frame requirement prior to departure? If I file it at an office located (?) and I go through security how will they know that it has been filed? Do I get a receipt or ? Thanks I like your blog!

Response. Check out the website of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Center (FINCEN) at
http://www.fincen.gov/forms/files/fin105_cmir.pdf, and I recommend calling the local U.S. Customs office at your place of departure. Enjoy your trip.

Peter Quinter

Brando January 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm

My parents got their permanent residency cards (Green Card) last year and they went back to their home country to collect their retirement funds and bring everything that they owned with them into the U.S. since they are planning to live here for the rest of their lives. My dad is 71 years old, legally blind (having eye surgery on February 3rd), with very bad memory and my mom is 67 years old retired school teacher with severe back issue who needs constant medical attention. They arrived in LAX on Saturday, January 15th, 2011 where they got harassed by U.S. Customs for over 4 hours and finally walked out without a penny left in their pockets. My dad doesn’t remember (bad memory as I mentioned it above) whether he had written anything on the paperwork that they have handed him in the plane, but upon custom official asking him how much money he has with him, he had declared thirty thousand dollars and change. When the officer asked him to confirm that he has thirty thousand dollars with him, my dad realized that he had meant to say thirteen thousands and not thirty. Sure enough this has raised the red flag causing them to completely search their bodies, luggage and etc. My parents don’t speak English very well (but my dad is too proud to admit) so finally they request if they are allowed to either call me (I was waiting for them outside) or a translator being provide to them which was denied. They seized all of their money (which by the way, neither my dad nor my mom know how much they really had on them and they weren’t allowed to touch their money or count it before customs seize the money) and handed them a receipt showing seventeen thousand dollars and change including their traveler checks. They asked my dad to fill in a form saying what he was planning to do with money which my dad wrote that he needs to pay his monthly rent and cost of permanently living in U.S. for the next year or so (a week ago I just signed a one year lease on a rental property on their behalf). Of course they didn’t give him any copy of that document so I really don’t know what he has written and signed. Finally and before they release them, they brought a translator which at that time he told them it is too late for him to say anything since the 5 officers involved from the beginning have already “built their case� and that my parents are “in big trouble�, which as you can imagine, almost caused my parents to faint.
Reading your website telling me this happens more than what I’ve realized but it is hard to believe how they have treated them. As I mentioned it earlier, both my parents are in poor physical health and the shock and fear of left without a dime in this new country is beyond their imaginations. This will not only affect their health (my dad has been scheduled for an eye surgery) but their living arrangement and the one year lease that they have signed.
Is there anything we can do to resolve this issue faster or we should just simply wait to get the notice from customs (which they’ve been told could be months) before we file for petition? My dad is devastated and he constantly repeats the he hasn’t lied and he had declared that he has more than $10K. He just didn’t know the exact amount of money with him. Can you help?

Geoffrey Pool January 18, 2011 at 10:55 am
Howard Hall January 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Is there any requirement for a US citizen traveling to Guam on vacation and business to declare >$10,000 USD and gold. Am I likely to have any problems?

Howard Hall January 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Is there any requirement for a US citizen traveling to Guam on vacation and business to declare >$10,000 USD and gold. Am I likely to have any problems?

Faramars January 23, 2011 at 7:00 am

I have not been able to find any information about “what happens after you declare the money?” Do we have to pay taxes? Is the IRS involved? Do we have to report it as an income? Any information is appreciated.

Peter Quinter Response:

There are no taxes paid to CBP or the IRS upon the reporting of the international transportation of currency into or out of the United States. The reporting of the international transportation of currency is separate from any requirement to report it as income.

DS January 24, 2011 at 8:05 am

I’m a US citizen who lives and works in Bermuda. My fiancee is Bermudian. We are traveling to the US for my cancer treatment. My fiancee has a foreign currency investment in a safety deposit box in Canada, where he lived several years ago. While I am in the hospital in the US, he plans on taking the currency out of the Canadian deposit box and closing that account. He’ll come back to the US until my treatment is finished, and then we’ll return back to Bermuda with the foreign currency investment with plans to exchange it into our account here in Bermuda. The FinCEN Form 105 doesn’t seem to cover this type of situation.

bahram January 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

Hi;I have a question. My cousin arrived in the USA four mounths ago as a refugee.15days ago his family tansfered more than 10,000 dollars via Dobie,s Bank to his Bank account in the USA. Must he report it to goverment or IRS or not ? thank you very much.

Palu Foliaki January 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Hi, my friend who is a us citizen is arriving to the us with possibly 5 gold bars weighing about 23ozs each. What is he suppose to do. How much is each gold bar worth? How much would he declare? Does he have to declare it’s monetary value or just state how many bars and how much they weigh? Will they charge him customs and duty? What are his chances of taking his bars home?

rbg February 2, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Dear Peter,
I am a US ex-pat and been living overseas for over 15 years.
I plan on returning to the USA in the next year, or so.

What is the best way to repatriate my savings to America?
I have a bank account in Colorado, so should I just wire myself the money? Is there some limit as to how much I can wire at once?
What, if any, tax obligations?

Thank you!

Frank February 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Hello o couple days ago i had 11.000 dlls seized by the us customs i know now that i can maybe get my money back or part of it. My main question is that i was toll that every time i cross the border i was going to have problems the next day i cross and came back i was sent to secondary inspection where i had to explain that i got seized 11.000 Dlls. they clear me and and let me go on my way is there something that i can do to removed the red flag is it going to be that way every time i cross the border or i have to wait to proof and recover my money and then sent a letter with the resolution to some place to remove the flag at the system so that every time i cross they don’t have to sent me automatically to secondary inspection
thank you

Anonymous February 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Hi – I recently had monies seized at the border from Canada to the U.S. They seized it because I had split $12,700 with a friend of mine so we didn’t have to report it (I just don’t like the U.S. meddling in my personal business). I proved to them that the money was legitimate and after appealing with all the proof that it is, I received a letter back saying they believe me, however they would be taking 50% of the money as a penalty/fine. They did not give any options as to how to appeal this, so I would like to know my options. I’m willing to get legal help for this and also want to know if I should get someone in the area this occurred (Buffalo), or if any area will suffice?


Peter March 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm

A friend of mine who is in business was transferred USD70,000. ON traveling from the North Cyprus to Turkey, he was caught by the Immigration and he is still yet on the case. What is the probability of getting the money soon, or will it be seized? The investigation is over with the prove of a bank transfer from US to North Cyprus.

Please I need an answer as he is so much worried. Thank you

eva March 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

Hi.im an iranian citizen and im going to relocate permanently in US in couple of months.im just preparing myself to know what should i need to bring my money to america.my money source is from selling my house and my saving money in bank.im just wondering if the custome will trust documents from Iran

eva March 7, 2011 at 11:54 am

Hi.im an iranian citizen and im going to relocate permanently in US in couple of months.im just preparing myself to know what should i need to bring my money to america.my money source is from selling my house and my saving money in bank.im just wondering if the custome will trust documents from Iran.

Rudy March 9, 2011 at 8:03 pm

On march 1 I traveled to Atlanta and when I arrived with 9,000 dollars but the thing is that they were not mine,they belong to a friend and the customs seized the money and now they are acussing me of money laundry,Im a lpr in USA and I would like to know if I can lose my status.I did not know that I have to declare that amount of money,What can I do to prove that this money is not dirty.This money was going to be use to buy an airplane which it was almost paid by bank transactions,and I have proof of all that.

Michael Rosenberg March 22, 2011 at 7:33 am

U.S. 1oz. Gold Eagle coins are legal tender (currency)and have a face demonination of $50.00, but a melt/exchange price today of approx. $1400.00.

Ling March 28, 2011 at 3:02 am

However, the term “monetary instruments” does not include
1) Checks or money orders made payable to the order of a named person, which have not been endorsed, or which bear restrictive endorsements
Thank you for any insight.

Jesse March 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm

what is the rule for families? say a husband and wife, is each one allowed $10k? or both can not exceed $10k? I don’t see anything in CBP website in this regard.
Thank you for your help.

Jay April 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I seized ($40000) in 2004 at the Airport and I did not appreal. I have been traveing without any probelms since then. Now, I am trying to apply a citizenshop, is it going to be a problem as an offence or violation of laws?

Jay April 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I seized ($40000) in 2004 at the Airport and I did not appreal. I have been traveing without any probelms since then. Now, I am trying to apply a citizenshop, is it going to be a problem as an offence or violation of laws?

Matt Murphy April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I,m considering moving my family from the US to a South Pacific island. What is the best way to leave with physical preciuos metals significantly over $10k? Thanks.

Salem May 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I am and international student in Boston and my parents came from my home country 2 days ago to visits me. My father was carrying around $18000 in cash and he neglected to mention it in the deceleration form, and the money was seized from him.
Now what are the things that he has to do next to appeal?
and can he appeal without hiring an attorney?

Thanks a lot in advance

dave May 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm

i am american liveing in south america. i a 70 years old and not in the best of health. i am disoriented and dont rember things as good as i used to. well i was in the states for about a month and had a chance to catch an earlyer flight so i took it. well i got to texas and they asked me how much money i was carrying i thought about 7000 and i forgot i had a bank bang and had forgot to make a deposit so i had abound 15000 and they took it. i got word from the ststes there starting forfeit proceedings. i do not want to spende money to fight and i dont want to return to the states due to my health and the fact i live here now. i just want to go on with my life and not have the stress so i want to just let the money go. will there be a penelity on top of what they have and will i have problems if and when i return to the states.i have a lawyer but he has never had a case invalveing customs. thank you for your help.

george May 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I do not understand why this man (below) got into trouble since he was carrying less than $10000. Also, why do the immigration officers keep asking ‘how much money are you carrying?’ when my declaration states clearly I do not have more than $10000? Is that an attempt to trap me if I say $400 and have $1400 in reality?

On march 1 I traveled to Atlanta and when I arrived with 9,000 dollars but the thing is that they were not mine,they belong to a friend and the customs seized the money and now they are acussing me of money laundry,Im a lpr in USA and I would like to know if I can lose my status.I did not know that I have to declare that amount of money,What can I do to prove that this money is not dirty.This money was going to be use to buy an airplane which it was almost paid by bank transactions,and I have proof of all that.

george May 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

why do the immigration officers keep asking ‘how much money are you carrying?’ when my declaration states clearly I do not have more than $10000? Is that an attempt to trap me if I say $400 and have $1400 in reality?

Adam May 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Greetings from Taiwan. My wife (who is Taiwanese) and I are in Taiwan now. She is green card holder and a pharmacy student at a very expensive school in the US.

We came back to Taiwan to get government issued student loans (which are MUCH cheaper than the loans issued by the US government at 0 to 2.2%).

We opened a US dollar bank account at the Taiwanese bank. They will be depositing approximately $40,000 USD in it. They can either wire the funds or issue travelers checks to us (in US dollars). Travelers checks are preferable becasue there is no fee to issue the travelers checks, and no fee to cash them at our bank in the US.

Your post makes it sound like we have nothing to worry about in declaring this $40,000, but we are understandably nervous about anyone taking away her student loan money! Can you imagine paying bank interest on money that has been siezed by the US government?

If for some reason the travelers checks were siezed, could we cancel the checks and have them reissued? What exactly do we need to provide at the border to convince them that the funds are legit?

Many thanks for your help.

Peter Quinter

Raman May 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

My wife’s sister-in-law traveled to the US for the first time. She was accompanied by her 2 daughters. They were carrying $24,000, most of the money was a gift for my wife from her parents. My SIL was under the impression that each person is allowed to bring in $10,000 each. So, when she got the Customs Declaration form, she said that she was not carrying more than $10k, believing that they don’t need the form for the kids. When she was asked by the customs official, how much money she was carrying, she declared the full amount ($24k). They searched her and found only the $24k on her. She pleaded that she did not know the rules and had been misinformed. Despite that, the Customs official seized the money, asked her to fill the FCIN form and returned $5k on humanitarian grounds. The Customs official said that she can get most of the money back if she can prove that this money is legal. We have all documentation to prove that this money was legal. How can we get this money back?

Eduardo Gonzalez May 29, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Thanks for the help of the website
If family entering the United States each member can bring $ 10,000 so one of them is a minor.

Jackie June 20, 2011 at 5:17 am

Thank you for taking my question yesterday. You are so kind. My phone ran out of minutes and we got disconnected, sorry. Wanted to ask more questions too. Darn.

Ellen Walters July 7, 2011 at 11:54 am

I will have more then 10,000.– transferred from my account in Germany to my account in the US (state of GA). Do I also have to report a wire transfer and if so how soon?
Thank you

Dempsey July 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Am from Nigeria I need to come over to USA to buy used auto spare parts, usually got from accident vehicles (scraps)for use in Africa and I will be coming with about US$50,000 on travelers Cheque. could you please guide me on then necessary steps to take before embarking on this trip.



Mina August 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I was visiting daughter in Bosnia with my husband, younger daughter, son- in-law and my granddaughter. My daughter in Bosnia is a doctor and on our last day she gave me $15,000 in cash as a gift to help me financially with paying my mortgage and other debts I have in the USA. When we got to the Custom Declaration form we were not aware of the law but we heard that any amount over $10,000 needs to be reported. Since I didn’t have any proof where the money came from we declared $5,000 each. We split money between my daughter, my son in law and me, $5,000. They told us they know we split it to avoid reporting it.
They searched us and after we admitted it, since we didn’t have any proof they kept all money. They kept us for many hours and since we hade one child and sick adult and they threatened us we can be in trouble for lying we signed paper that we are abandoning the money. We were just simply exhausted and tired and wanted to go home. Can we still file a petition? Should we hire a lawyer for this case, please? Our daughter who is a doctor will be sending us a proof that she gave us this money as a gift.I would really appreciate any response from you, please.

em c August 9, 2011 at 3:26 am

hi. if my family completes Form 105 stating that we are declaring $18,000 in funds for the 5 of us that we are bringing back into the US, do we have to pay taxes or fees or fines for bringing $18,000 into the US?

JK August 22, 2011 at 6:26 am

I’m a US citizen, my spouse is a UK citizen. She was carrying 3000, I was carrying just under 7000. At the airplane gate, CBP asked everyone how much money they were carrying and we answered – we were holding sub 10000 even though it was split between the 2 of us. They then said we had to declare it, and I was confused because I thought we had to declare only above 10000. They checked us and then made us sign something. I have no idea what I signed because I really dislike talking to CBP and immigration (despite being a fully law-abide US citizen).

Are they allowed to do that? To force you to declare an amount below 10k? Truthfully, it is things like this that make me want to keep everything in fully disclosed offshore accounts (saying one thing in official rules but enforcing different rules at whim).

Jeff August 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

I am interested to know what happens if someone claims he is carrying 5k but turns out to be 8k under his possession. As the amount is still under the legally allowed limit of 10k, Do you think the person is still in problem although he was let go with the money and was allowed to board the plane. Do you think if he is flagged by the Customs and will be questioned on his way back? Your expert advice will be greatly appreciated. The person is still out of the country and will be returning shortly. A timely response will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Reza September 8, 2011 at 8:16 am

Ny question is that $10000 is for adult or per family members. For example my wife and kids who are 3 and 6 years old how much can bring to the States legally?


Jim September 10, 2011 at 3:55 am

I’m moving to chile, I want to bring as much of my money as I can, the only problem is, most of it is bullion. I dont want any problems, so I will bring less than 10,000, i heard that I can only bring $2,500 in bullion without reporting it to customs so I will have to convert most of it to cash… my plan is to bring 2,400 in bullion and about 7,000 in USD and Chilean Pesos. I will tell the truth about the amounts when asked. will I be ok doing this? is there another way? Is there a way to bring just under 10k in gold without reporting it so I dont have to convert most of it to cash?

John October 17, 2011 at 9:15 am

What about Gold? If I carry 7 ounces of Gold, it would be worth over $10,000. Do I need to declare that?

Brenda Mercado November 4, 2011 at 4:24 am

My $11000 was seized by Customs when I went there as a tourist. I filed an administrative petition for its return but it is still in process. What will be the effect of this seizure on my future travel plans to the United States? Will I be refused entry?

Brenda Mercado November 4, 2011 at 4:27 am

My $11000 was seized by Customs when I went there as a tourist. I filed an administrative petition for its return but it is still in process. What will be the effect of this seizure on my future travel plans to the United States? Will I be refused entry?

Cherif Alioum November 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Hi! Am travel from Germany to Newart Airport the customs discover 15000$ in my back the took all the money and give the seizure paper and the toll me the will send me and email to let me know them decision today is already 7days from the date the took the money, I want what gonna happens next thank you.

Peter Quinter

leo November 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm

greetings! I’m traveling to my birth country, and bringing $15k. when do i need to declare it upon check-in? and once i arrived in my destination do i need to pay anything?
thanks a bunch.

Paul November 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I just crossed from Windsor to Detroit and had 13k with me that I did not declare. I always leave my very secluded home in northern Ontario, go to Toronto, stay with my daughter, leave the money there then proceed to Toledo to visit my other daughter and new grandson. Done this many times with no problem. This time I was randomly pulled over( I have no issues of any kind ) and asked if I had more than 10 k. Completely forgetting the money I said “no” told to get out of the car and take only my wallet and any money in the car, it suddenly jolted my memory to the cash in my bag.I was still sure it is less than than 10k because it was money that I saved over the years 50, 100 200 dollars a a time. How can I prove “legitimate source or intended use ” for this money.?
More importantly will it bar me from visiting my grandson and daughter in Toledeo?

The best way to get your money back is to hire a customs lawyer experienced in exactly this type of matter. I do it all the time all over the country for people in this situation.

Dax Mac November 12, 2011 at 12:47 am

Recently,after airport arrival, while going through U.S immigration/CBP, the first agent asked if I had anything to declare, I replied that I wrote those items on the submitted form, a sworn statement. Then he asked how much money do you have, I replied that I was in full compliance with ALL currency laws of the U.S. Agent replied “ok, if you want to play that game”…. I was directed to secondary inspection and told I had to answer all questions. I replied that I was ONLY required to submit to inspecion.
Then agent asked if I had over 10K in monetary instruments, I replied no.
what do you think of my responses? thanks.

Tony November 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

I was travellin from North Carolina to Africa and had 25,000 dollars wit me. I had papers from my bank to prove the money was mine. I boarded the plane from North Carolina to Atlanta where i was to have an eight hours stop-over before leavin for Africa. At the check in point in Atlanta, i was never asked how much i had but when my purse was scanned and the 25,000 dollars was seen in it, I presented the security man who searched me wit the bank papers but i was arrested and detained till from about 10pm till the next day. My bank was called the next day to verify the papers i had and then i was released and my money given back to me but i was blocked from flyin and that has been my problem for almost 2 months now. I cant even fly within the united states. Pls how can i get my blocked lifted for me to make my trip.

Karl londn December 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm


Why don’t you just answer the questions insted of having people to call you back, I guess your answeres will help every one, if you just answer them.

Eve December 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Hello – My mother has about $30K in a bank account in South America which she is planning to bring back upon her return to pay off debts. Her concern is if after she reports it, will she have to report it as income when taxes are due or will there be any type of interest/fee/payment she will have to make eventually on that money?

Also, she also suggested since she and I are coming back together, I bring in $9,500 and she would bring in another $9,500. Would we still have to report it as if we were bringing in $19K together? or will we be ok to not report it as each of us (individually) would bring in under $10K?

Thanks for your response.

Cathy January 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Hi, I planed to travel from Taiwan to US and bring $19,000 back. I will travel with my mom (80 years old) and my daughter (18 years old). If we fill out 2 custom forms, one for my mom and myself, and one for my daughter, can we split the money on the 2 forms? Also my daughter has a different last name then mine.

Rusty January 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I will be traveling back to the U.S. with 25k in cash. The cash is for a manager I work for in Nigeria. He is wanting to start a “fun jump business” and wants me to purchase them in the U.S. and then ship overseas to him. Being the 25k is for him will this be a problem for me. I know I have to claim it and fill out the forms.

Peter Quinter

Jason January 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm
Max January 27, 2012 at 11:33 am

My mom wants to visit me here in US. She will stay here about 2 months. She will bring $9000 cash. Is this a problem for the U.S. Customs part? The amount she will bring is less than $10K.

zsyed February 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Please help! My mother, a US citizen, was carrying around $11,000 leaving the US via Houston this past week. Upon search the customs found that she had over 10,000 USD. She probably didn’t realize at the time that she had to declare the amount.

THey made her sign a document without giving her much opportunity to speak, so she was unable to determine what she signed. They did not seize the money and allowed her to depart.

We need to know what kind of document they might make her sign and if it would result in any future penalty? Will she be able to return without any issues?

GEVen February 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Hello Mr.Quinter,
My fiancée a US citizen got contracted out for an oil spillage and drainage in Malaysia. After completing the job he got paid with the Company’s check.
I had asked him to get the earliest flight back, he found one but had to depart from Singapore. Fallowing day I receive a blocked call from customs that they had detained my fiancée, and I was not able to talk to him till following day.
Once I got a hold of him, he informed me he needed to flight back to Malaysia, get a letter from the Oil Company that hired him and pay an attorney $3,500 to get a seal from Malaysia’s Court in order for customs to release his check.
His check is for more than $1 million dollars. I know now that he did not declared the check, which is why he got detained.
Would he be able to collect his check from customs after gathering the requested documents, and would he be requested to pay more money after that? Please inform me what are the real consequences that he is not telling me? Will he have problems with future flights?
Thank you for your time and for answering my questions, GEV

Eric Kolinakis February 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Mr. Quinter,

You state in your blog that ‘ There are no customs duties, taxes or other fees paid to U.S. Customs for the international transportation of the money; it is merely a reporting requirement to U.S. Customs.

My question is if an amount carried through customs over $10,000 will be reported to the IRS, just like it would be if it were wire transferred by a bank.

My situation is that I had lent $50,000 to a relative to build a house years ago, and now I’m planning to visit Europe to collect on the loan, and I’m wondering if I will be taxed by the IRS even though I lent the money interest free.

Would I be better off, having the money wire transferred to my bank by my relative in $9,500 increments, and how many times a year can I do this?

I’m very new at this, and I don’t want to have a problem with the Custom’s officer, nor the IRS.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter; I appreciate your help. By the way, you have an awesome blog, and you have been so informative to so many people.

Julio February 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Hi Mr.Quinter

I got a few questions, I just finished my studies as a pilot i got everything, and now i got a Job as a pilot, and my boss want to go to the united states, and my question is,
1.can we carry 10k cash dollars by person or 10k by plane?
2.if he want to get more than 10k he just have to fill the fincen form 105?,
3.he have to fill it up when we arrive at customs or have it ready when we arrive?
4.i saw that you said to someone that is better to carry less than 10k i would like to know why?
Im new at this and i dont want any troubles with the law.
Thank you.

Ann Holland March 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

I am an American citizen but because of my freelance international job, I travel and live abroad for many years, returning often to the States. I have an interest free bank account in Italy and would like to wire circa $20,000 to my account in the States. I have done this often over the years but usually for less amounts. Going from my Italian bank account to my American bank account, should I expect problems with Customs? Are they able to seize my money?

erin March 15, 2012 at 10:23 am

Hello, I have wired money from my Italian bank account to my American account in the past and I remember somtimes the sums were more than 10,000. It always arrived with no problem, was I just lucky? Because I need to send around Euro 15,000 = $20,000.

Thank you,

CL April 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm

What counts as traveling together. If I am traveling with friends and we each have our own entry form as we are not family surely what amount of money they are carrying has nothing to with what I am carrying?

The Dept of thr Treasury defines a “person” (which would be the answer to what counts as traveling together/and having to report together) that has to report as “Person—An individual, a corporation, partnership, a trust or esta te, a joint stock company, an association, a syndicate, joint venture or other unincorporated organization or group, an Indian Tribe (as that term is defined in the Indian Gaming Regulato ry A ct), and all entities cognizable
as legal personalities.” –

The requirement prevents purposefully avoiding the reporting requirements by splitting the currency amongst “friends.”

See http://fincen.gov/forms/files/fin105_cmir.pdf

zetto June 6, 2012 at 6:48 am

Just crossed thr us borders woth 2 friends from Canada.
When asked how much money we had I said 11k between the 3 of us.
I went through a lot of intimidatoon, but declared the money as mine and we left.

1 will this declaration be ttansmitted to canadian autorities? If so, do they do it immediately?
2 may I have problems with canadian customs?


george July 3, 2012 at 6:44 am

I am frequently asked by the Customs officer how much money I am bringing back to the US. Usually it is a trifling amount, this time I’d like to bring $9000. Do I have to prove the legal source of the money and what does that mean?

lionking July 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

i was headed to a car auction when i got stop in a traffic stop.. the constable ask if we had any drugs or guns and told him i have 15,000. cash. as soon as i said that he called in the k9 and DEA then he took my money saying that the dog smelled drugs and that was a lie. now they are asking me for proofs of where i got my money told him i have a safe at home where i keep my money cash where i take out everytime i go to the car auction. what can i do? what can i proofs show? is this legal? but, i always took cash and travel over other auction to buy vehicles.. i am so upset.

Luis Andrade July 24, 2012 at 7:47 am

Hello, I’m planning to sell my house in Ecuador hopefully this year to refinance my house in the US from a 30 year mortgage to a 15. I’m hoping to get 75K from my house in Ecuador. How can I get this amount over to the US without having to pay more taxes than I would already pay for selling the property in Ecuador? I guess my question is how people transfer large amounts of money between two countries legally.


ANSWER – You need to get a tax attorney involved to answer tax questions. For U.S. Customs purposes, when traveling internationally, assure you have great records with you to substantiate the legitimate source of the funds.

sherine August 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

Hi, I’m travelling with my son to the states very soon. He has been accepted in a school , over there.Well, we have to pay school fees in cash and we don’t have traveler cheques in our country. would you please advise me what to do ??

Mindy Howard August 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm

My finance is moving to the US and he is wanting to send me a cashiers check from Malaysia worth $800,000.00 USD. He wants to mail it to me, but the check will be in his name and remain uncashed until he enters in USA. Should he report this to CBP before he mails me the check?

Mike August 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

Jennifer Diaz – 305-724-3281

Ihu August 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I came in as a visitor because I always do business in US. I had $10,207 which I declared when leaving the United State but I forgot $500 which I usually put in a small purse for emergency purposes. Honestly it skipped my mind or I would have declared it because I did declare the whole amount and another $500 would not have made a difference. CBP searched me, found that out. They returned my money and I paid a fine. Now I am being denied visa at the consulate based on the incident. What to do. I have goods that are still in US that I need to come in and prepare for shipment and also need to come in and purchase some other goods for my business. Please advice.

Asad September 2, 2012 at 1:35 am

I am a UN volunteer.I work With UN peace keeping mission in Haiti.
It will be my first time to go back on vacations. From Haiti I have a transit flight through JFK-New York to Doha, Qatar.
Thanks in advance

Sara Falahati September 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Dear Sir/Madam,
I am a US citizen who was born in the U.S and just been living in the United States for the years 2003 to 2005 as a student.
On September 25, 2012 when I came back to the US with my family after a long journey of 20 hours, I was asked to declare how much money I had with me at the customs, so as roughly remembered and already stipulated on the form I said $30,000.
Then he started searching our entire luggage and saw my jewelry out of which some were gold coins. He counted them and said it is illegal to carry gold coins in to the US according to the law and said that there are two options for you, either to be seized by the police or abandon all your gold coins for the government. He explained that under no circumstances they will be handed to me even if I hire an attorney.
Now I am feeling totally depressed and emotionally hurt to see that all gift gold coins which I have received by my beloved parents, friends and my husband’s family on different occasions as my wedding ceremony, my birthdays, and my son’s birthday have been taken away from me just at the time of my arrival to the US.
Now I would like to know if there is chance of getting our gold coins back and how?

Your time and attention is of my great appreciation.
Sincerely yours,
Sara Falahati

juststopbychance November 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

still not fully understand what “monetary instruments” is.

if a blank checkbook treated as monetary instruments?
if an ATM card treated as monetary instruments?
if passbook for saving accounts treated as “monetary

Pnay November 29, 2012 at 9:14 am

What is the maximum amount for a family of 2 to declare at the customs coming to the USA? My husband and I will be carrying $8,000.00 each from the sale of a property we have in the Philippines, do we have to declare it?

Orsika617 December 3, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I would like to get more information about maximum cash we can export as a family.
Me and my husband would like to carry $10,000 each for my parents to Hungary. My dad works in Africa, getting his salary is USD and I live in the US, so for not to lose money with currency changes, he gets his salary for my account and saving it for retirement. But slowly, I would like to bring it for him to Hungary in cash.
After reading the comments I’m really afraid now that we’ll be stopped by officers although we’ll both carry the maximum amount which is not declarable.
I’ve read there is a special rule for families. Could you please let us know what is that? And do we need any supporting forms where did we get this money, etc?
Thank you very much in advance!

Jen Diaz January 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm

juststopbychance & Pnay & Orsika617 – Check out my new post, it defines “monetary instruments” and discusses families splitting up currency and recent seizures — http://www.customsandinternationaltradelaw.com/2012/11/articles/cbp-3/dont-let-your-currency-be-seized-when-traveling-internationally-top-tips/

Pinku January 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Hi, While coming into the US, I had a pre-loaded corporate debit Card (having approx 4500$).While coming into US, I didn’t declare this. While going back to my home country – I will be taking about 3000$ in cash.Will it cause a problem at US customs ?

Rob May 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Before customs returns a percentage of money seized for failure to report at the border, does customs check to see if the owner of the money owes back taxes?

vijay pinge May 28, 2013 at 10:14 am

We are family of 5 – me, wife and 3 kids (6yr,10yr &16yr old). Is the declaration limit $10k per person or per family?

Jen Diaz May 28, 2013 at 10:45 am

Hello Vijay — Check out my new post, it discusses families splitting up currency and recent seizures — http://www.customsandinternationaltradelaw.com/2012/11/articles/cbp-3/dont-let-your-currency-be-seized-when-traveling-internationally-top-tips/

George Siffin July 5, 2013 at 11:56 am

I know a family of 4, two parents and two kids. they are coming to the US with an immigrant visa. what is the allowed cash money can carry? is it $9999 per person or per family?


GW Scott July 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I Plan on taking a trip to the cayman islands soon and i was going to be carry about 5 million iraqi dinar. Current value is about 5000 dollars in US money. Will i have a problem with customs at the airport?

GW Scott July 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I Plan on taking a trip to the cayman islands soon and i was going to be carry about 5 million iraqi dinar. Current value is about 5000 dollars in US money. Will i have a problem with customs at the airport?

Don't Let Your Currency be Seized When Traveling Internationally - TOP TIPS | Customs and International Trade Law Blog October 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm

[…] Here are your top tips to assure you get it right, and you’re not screaming "Help – U.S. Customs Took my Money at the Airport".  […]

Pathum June 24, 2016 at 10:23 am

From the info sheet on FinCen105

(1) Each person who physically transports, mails, or ships, or causes to be
physically transported, mailed, or shipped currency or other monetary instruments
in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time from the United States to
any place outside the United States or into the United States from any place outside
the United States, and
(2) Each person who receives in the United States currency or other monetary
instruments In an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time which have been
transported, mailed, or shipped to the person from any place outside the United States.

ritu kapoor August 18, 2016 at 7:33 pm

what documents is required to show in court / customs to return our siezed money back

plzzz help

Jennifer Diaz October 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm

That’s more complicated! Every case is different (in terms of documentation I recommend providing) but, typical standard is legitimate source and intended use. Contact me at info@diaztradelaw.com and we’ll see how we can help!

joe January 3, 2017 at 12:02 am

those problems are only coming INTO the US.. if you don’t tell them and they find it as you come INTO the US then you have problems, I have traveled OUTSIDE of the US into another country with way over 10k and never reported it and it was never an issue because they never looked for anything.

Jennifer Diaz January 4, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Actually that’s incorrect. We have many clients who have funds seized when LEAVING the U.S. The law requires you to report BOTH when entering AND exiting the U.S. You have just been lucky.


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