What Happens If You Don’t Declare Currency Over $10K at Customs

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If you’re traveling with currency worth more than $10,000 USD you probably want as few people as possible to know about it. And who wants to go through the hassle of extra paperwork and regulations coming in on an international flight. I’ve never traveled with that much cash, but always wondered what the penalty for not declaring it would be.

In the United States, it’s pretty stiff — they take it ALL.

The Washington Post just ran an article on $72,000 seized by Customs and Border Protection from 3 passengers in 3 days. Two of them had reported $10,000 but were carrying $29,660 and $20,435. The other man headed for Ukraine declared $15,000 but had $22,000. All of it was confiscated, except for $1,000 allowed to the Ukraine bound passenger because he would “need some pocket cash’ once there.”

None of them were charged with crimes and were allowed to continue their travels, but they’ll never get their money back. If distrust of the government is what prompted them to underreport their holdings, this will hardly change that perception.

“It’s not a great pleasure for us to take someone’s currency because in most cases it’s really hard-earned money,” Sapp said. “If you’re truthful with us, we’re not going to take your money.”

Losing everything because you didn’t fill out a form correctly is pretty severe, but good to know. There’s no guarantees they won’t confiscate your cash at customs even if you do declare, but at least you stand a chance of keeping it. And if you’re flying within the US, don’t carry cash, ever.

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  1. Thadeus

    July 8, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    They will count it @ RDU but are very nice. If you have a connecting flight they’ll usually stop counting and usher you to the front of security

  2. thehawk75

    July 8, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    It’s all a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario.

    Try asking any of the myriad motorists pulled over along Amerikan highways for routine traffic stops if declaring the cash they were carrying was worth it?

    I am of course referring to ‘civil asset forfeiture’.

  3. Mark

    July 9, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I once needed to declare but nobody at the security point had any idea of how to do it or what form to fill. They sent me to ask in a TSA office. No idea. They made me call a number. No answer. I finally went through because I was going to miss my plane, but I guess they should be more informed. I think the problem is that there is no customs officials when you are leaving the airport

  4. mell gacute

    August 14, 2015 at 2:17 am

    What will happen if you dont declare at the courier services that you put a money to the things you sent to your love ones in other country? Is it possible that the customs will hold it? And pay for a tax

  5. Jerry

    January 6, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Enjoy your articles, Keri. One small correction: it’s Ukraine, not the Ukraine. I have no idea why so many people tack on “the”.

    • Keri Anderson

      January 6, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Fixed! Appreciate the head’s up


    June 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    thats a bull shit those fuckers want take your mony fuck the goverment

  7. Gadelkareem Nassar

    June 22, 2016 at 3:13 am

    Dear Sir, Madam
    I appreciate if the information below still valid
    my girl Ukrainian girl friend will travel tomorrow from Kiev airport to meet me in Kuala Lumpur to got married
    she have been informed that she should go out of the country carrying cash or check with a value of $3000 to be allowed to travel
    she has returned ticket and hotel reservation
    Please reply me ASAP, because she is worried to go to the airport and my not allow her to travel
    Thank you for your help
    Customs Control: Leaving Ukraine
    When leaving Ukraine, you will have to fill the Exit Customs’ Declaration in to list the valuables you are bringing out of the country. Please, note that valuables not included in the Entrance Declaration will be subject to Customs taxes and fees. Below are things to consider when leaving Ukraine.

    It is allowed to carry out of Ukraine:
    Cash and travel checks totaling up to USD 10,000 and carried into Ukraine. If money you carry out exceeds USD 3,000 it should be declared in written form. However, it cannot exceed amount you carried in to the country.
    Ukrainian cash up to UAH 10,000. To be declared.
    Commemorative coins of gold and silver, nominal value of which is in UAH and does not exceed UAH 5,000. To be declared.
    Bank metals, which total weight is up to 100 grams per person, regardless of person’s age. To be declared.

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