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International Travel

Best PracticesCBPInternational TravelSeizuresU.S.Customs

Your Data is NOT Your Own at the Border

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 19, 2017 0 comments

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On November 15, 2017, DTL’s very own Jennifer Diaz, along with other experts, spoke at the AILA CLE Luncheon on travelers’ rights when encountering U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at airports and other ports of entry. As international travel continues to grow, coupled with increase national security efforts, it is imperative travelers know their rights when entering or exiting the U.S. Travelers enjoy taking their electronic devices with them for pleasure and/or work. Electronic devices hold considerable amounts of our personal or privileged information. 

What is CBP’s Policy? Continue Reading

Best PracticesBISCubaExportInternational TravelOFAC

Travel to the U.S. with an Unlimited Number of Cuban Cigars and Rum – Courtesy of New Revised OFAC and BIS Regulations

posted by Jennifer Diaz October 17, 2016 1 Comment

On October 14, 2016, President Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive on United States-Cuba Normalization to further ease travel and trade restrictions with Cuba. As a result, Monday, October 17, 2016, amendments to both OFAC and BIS regulations will take effect.

Below are the top changes from both OFAC and BIS:

OFAC is making additional amendments to the Regulations with respect to health, trade and commerce, civil aviation safety, travel and related transactions, humanitarian-related activities, and certain other activities. Below is a recap:

  • Health
    • Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are now permitted to engage in commercial and non-commercial joint medical research projects with Cuban nationals. (Section 515.547).
  • Travel and Related Transactions
    • Importation of Cuban merchandise: Not too long ago we alerted our readers that CBP was targeting Cuban Cigars at American Ports. We haveImage result for travel with cigars and rumBIG news for cigar and rum lovers… As of Monday, October 17, 2016, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are now able to return home from Cuba (or any other country where Cuban rum and cigars can legally be purchased) with an unlimited amount of rum and cigars. However, the number of cigars and amount rum must be for personal use and such merchandise must be imported as accompanied baggage and are subject to the normal limits on duty and tax exemptions. This is a huge step forward from OFAC’s initial limit of $400 or less (with no more than $100 of such merchandise consisting of alcohol or tobacco products). (Section 515.560(c)(3)). Continue Reading
CBPCurrency SeizureInternational TravelSeizuresU.S.CustomsUncategorized

International Travelers Beware – U.S. Customs WILL Seize Your Money…

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 13, 2013 4 Comments

Money given away

International travelers often contact me with the same distraught face as the man pictured to my left, after their money is confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as a result of not properly declaring currency on hand.

Declaration Form 6059B will look familiar to all international travelers as you fill it out when entering the U.S.  Many times, the rationale for seizure is that parties traveling together split their currency, and even though together they have over the $10,000 minimum, the travelers advise they are each carrying less then the $10,000 minimum requirement for reporting (in question 13 of Form 6059B), resulting in ALL of the currency on hand being seized. On a Typical Day in Fiscal Year 2015, CBP seized $356,396 in undeclared or illicit currency.

Recently, CBP seized $82,000 of currency, and arrested the female driver, after discovering three packages of bulk currency hidden within a vehicle as a female driver attempted to exit the U.S. and enter Mexico.

During this holiday season, this post will tell you what you need to know to assure it’s NOT YOU that has their currency seized when traveling internationally!

Continue Reading

Best PracticesExportInternational TravelOFAC

Ready to Travel to Cuba? OFAC Simplifies Process

posted by Jennifer Diaz April 29, 2013 1 Comment

On April 18, 2013, the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") announced its effort to streamline license processing procedures by accepting requests for licenses, license amendments, and interpretive guidance electronically. This will not only simplify the process for those that wish to travel to Cuba, this new electronic application program can also be used for applications to request the release of blocked funds and much more.

 

For those that are more "old school" – you still have the opportunity to submit applications by snail mail pursuant to 31 C.F.R. § 501.801.

 

The new electronic OFAC License Application Page will allow users to apply:

  1. to travel to Cuba (for many, though not all, categories of travel to Cuba);
  2. to export agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to Sudan or Iran pursuant to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000;
  3. for the release of a wire transfer blocked at a U.S. financial institution; and
  4. for a license or interpretive guidance in all other circumstances (referred to generally as Transactional).

For those wishing to travel to Cuba in a jiffy, you must first consult an expert to review and assure you understand the Comprehensive Guidelines for License Applications to Engage in Travel-Related Transactions Involving Cuba.  Once you know that you can apply to OFAC for your specific category of travel – the next step is reviewing the online application page.

Thus far, the electronic form may be used to apply for licenses to travel to Cuba in the following categories of travel, which are not generally authorized pursuant to 31 C.F.R. 515:   

  • Journalistic Activities
  • Professional Research and Professional Meetings
  • Religious Activities
  • Support for the Cuban People
  • Humanitarian Projects Activities of Private Foundations  
  • Research or Educational Institutes Exportation
  • Importation
  • Transmission of Information or Informational Materials
  • Licensed Exportations

The OFAC has stated that they intend to update the online application system in the future so that all the categories of travel (including family visits, educational activities, public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions) may be applied for using this streamlined online process.

 

If you want to travel to Cuba, want to export agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to Sudan or Iran, have funds blocked by OFAC, or want interpretive guidance from OFAC, assure you consult a regulatory expert so you have the best chance for success with OFAC.

International Travel

Follow Me To Quickly Clear U.S. Customs as an International Passenger

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 12, 2011 0 comments

Have you heard of the Global Entry program operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)?  If you are one of the 100,000 U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are members, then congratulations to you. If you are one of the millions of international travelers who do not like to wait in long lines at U.S. Customs when arriving at an airport in the United States after a long intercontinental flight, I have got a deal for you. 

Global Entry is a voluntary pilot program that streamlines the international arrivals process for pre-approved travelers through use of self-service kiosks located at 20 major U.S. airports.  For good reason, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin described the Global Entry program as "excellent"  in a December 27, 2010 press release.

Applications to Global Entry first must be submitted online at www.globalentry.gov . It costs only $100 for a five year membership.  I completed the on-line application in about 5 minutes, and was notified by email the next day that I was conditionally approved. Applicants must then complete an interview and fingerprint data collection in person at any of the 20 airport sites.  I am scheduled to be interviewed on February 22, 2011 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. 

Once enrolled in the pilot program, Global Entry members may proceed directly to the kiosks in the international arrivals area upon arrival in the U.S.  At the kiosk, members insert their passport or lawful permanent resident card into a document reader, provide digital fingerprints for comparison with fingerprints on file, answer customs declaration questions on the kiosk’s touch-screen, and then present a transaction receipt to CBP officers before leaving the inspection area.

From what I have heard from fellow frequent international travelers who use Global Entry, and from my friends at CBP, joining Global Entry appears to be the right choice.  I’ll keep you updated on my personal experience on Global Entry.

International Travel

10 Symptoms To Diagnose You as a Road Warrior

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog October 12, 2010 6 Comments

I have traveled way too much recently, and thought I would help you out with some simple test questions to identify if you too are a road warrior who needs a break.  If more than 5 of the below 10 test sample comments seem all too familiar, I recommend you slow down or go home.  Enjoy this blog post, and let me know the results of the test questions for you.

1. TripAdvisor.com becomes your most commonly used Internet site.

2.  You are daily checking your hotel points and frequent flier program balances.

3.  It is no problem to pack clothes and various accessories into a 22 inch carry-on for a 5 night trip.

4.  You travel with an iPod, Blackberry cellphone, Kindle e-reader, Bose acoustic noise-canceling headphones, and laptop, but still think you are forgetting to bring some electronic gadget.

5. You wander the Brookstone store at the airport, and realize you own a heck of a lot of the stuff on display.

6. You buy shoes, shirts, and get a haircut at the airport instead of  in your own home town.

7.  You know what city you are in, but not certain of the time zone, so you call the hotel front desk to find out.

8.  You tell yourself that a five or six hour, cross-country trip from Miami to Los Angeles is no big deal compared to the international flight you recently took to Hong Kong.

9.  You actually recognize many of the TSA screeners at the airport.

10. Someone asks you for your home phone number, and you have to really concentrate to remember it.

No matter where I go or how long I am gone, I always look forward to returning home to my family (and dog).  Maybe, I’ll reward myself and my wife and kids by taking them with me on a plane to some resort hotel far, far away. Or maybe not 🙂

International Travel

Frequent Flyer Miles Getting Harder to Use

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog May 16, 2010 0 comments

Are you also having a tough time turning in frequent flyer miles to travel internationally?  My wife and I will travel to the beautiful area of Tuscany, Italy, this summer. I wanted to fly non-stop on Delta or Continental, or their code-share partners, but their roundtrip frequent flyer mile minimum requirements were very high – 90,000 and 100,000 miles, respectively!   Instead, I turned in 60,00 frequent flier miles  on American Airlines to get each of the tickets, paid $80 in "taxes" for each, and am flying on American Airlines’ code-share partner, Iberia Airlines, through Madrid. 

In years past, I had used only 50,000 frequent flyer miles on AA, Delta, and Continental to fly roundtrip from the United States to many countries in Europe.  Now, airlines want me to use double the miles, and charge me $20 per ticket for having to bother them by telephone to book the trip.  Since I live in South Florida, where American Airlines is the dominant carrier at Miami International Airport, I still have the AA Mastercard, of course, but charge on American Express whenever I can.

Fortunately, I have long had the Starwood American Express card, which allows me (for free) to move 20,000 Starpoints to get 25,000 frequent flyer miles on most airlines.  This is by far the best credit card I have ever used (yes, even better than the AMEX Platinum credit card).  After all,  I need to start saving for next year’s trip to Vienna, Austria.

International Travel

Carrying Cash When Traveling Internationally

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog August 3, 2009 2 Comments

 

Jennifer Diaz, Florida Customs and International Trade LawyerThere are many reasons to be detained by an officer of the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when returning to the United States, but you wouldn’t think that one of those reasons would be because you have too much cash on you. CBP doesn’t come right out and say “show me the money”, but travelers are required to report monies over $10,000 and a supplemental form must be completed by the traveler. In speaking with many foreign travelers, the big misconception is that taxes, customs duties, or some other fee must be paid to the United States Government on the monies over $10,000. WRONG! 

Think about this, who travels with large amounts of money and for what? The most cash heavy travelers are gamblers attending Poker Tournaments, and tradeshow vendors/buyers that travel abroad to make their purchases. Do you really think that they pay customs duties on the cash- NO. On the merchandise possibly, but that’s another blog.

If you do not declare the cash you have and CBP finds it, you will not only forfeit all of your money, but you may also have to pay a penalty and possibly be criminally prosecuted.

In speaking with a few United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, CBP is more concerned about where the money came from and the reasons for carrying large amounts of cash than anything else. In today’s economy, could your average Joe Traveler just go to the bank and withdraw $10,000 and travel abroad? The answer is probably not. However, could the average Jane Buyer withdraw legitimate company funds, travel to a vendor’s factory and make purchases? Absolutely!

It basically comes down to these Do’s and Don’ts: 

  • Do advise CBP of what you have.
  • Don’t, under any circumstances, lie to CBP. 
  • Do declare the exact amount you are carrying.
  • Don’t try to hide money throughout your person and/or luggage with the thought that “They’ll never look there”, because they will. 
  • Do keep a record from where you withdrew the funds you are carrying.
  • Don’t try to pass off money to your traveling companion so the amount carried is less than $10,000. 
  • Don’t try to handle the matter without legal counsel familiar with these matters.

It’s not rocket science, but if you are willing to take a chance on CBP seizing your cash, the old adage comes to mind, “A fool and his gold are soon parted!”