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Traveling with over $10,000 cash

By The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien

December 11, 2023

Traveling with over $10,000 cash

Are you traveling internationally and need to bring in more than $10,000?  Perhaps you have been told that it is illegal to carry that much cash when you travel. In actuality, it is legal, although it may not be the safest decision. However, if you plan to travel internationally with cash in excess of $10,000, one of the first things that you should do is consult with a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney like Brett V. Beaubien to get all of the legal information necessary about your specific travel plans, rights, and options. 

Contact us now for an initial consultation and to learn about your rights. 


To summarize up front: no, you are not restricted to traveling with sums of $10,000 or less. In fact, you could travel with a checked bag stuffed to the brim with cash — as long as you declare the amount beforehand. However, this doesn’t mean that you will not end up talking to officials about why you have the cash, and answering questions about how you obtained the money in your possession. If you work with Brett V. Beaubien, Attorney At Law, prior to your trip, you will be equipped to have these conversations without feeling intimidated by the officials or concerned about the seizure of your legally-possessed funds. 

To reiterate: 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.  Still, on an average day in Fiscal Year 2015, CBP seized $356,396 in undeclared or illicit currency. 

How to Legally Travel with More than $10,000

If persons traveling together have $10,000 or more, they cannot divide the currency between each other to avoid declaring the currency. For example, if one person is carrying $5,000 and the other has $6,000 in cash, they have a total of $11,000 in their possession and must report it. 

If you fail to report the cash you are carrying in excess of $10,000, the penalties and repercussions can be severe. If you are stopped by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and more than $10,000 are found on your person or in your belongings, and this money was not declared, you run the very real risk of CBP taking all of the money you were carrying and keeping it. Failure to report the international transportation of money is serious business. Not only could you lose your money forever, but you may also be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

When to Contact a Lawyer about Carrying Cash Internationally

If you are set on carrying cash instead of using an international bank account, making a wire transfer beforehand, or using a travel credit card, then make sure that you contact an attorney who can help you understand the procedure you will need to go through in order to properly declare these funds. Losing a substantial amount of cash due to no reason other than an administrative error or omission can be devastating, so make sure that you are equipped with all of the information you need beforehand. 

Contact Brett V. Beaubien, Attorney At Law to make sure that you have all of this information and that you are ready to go. In addition, if you have had money seized by CBP or another agency, contact our firm as soon as possible to speak directly with an experienced legal professional about your options for recovery. 

Reporting Requirements Are Not Strictly for Cash

On a side note, reporting requirements are not limited to cash dollars. The same requirements apply for various monetary instruments, including foreign currency, traveler’s checks, domestic or foreign banknotes, securities, or stocks in bearer form. If you are uncertain of whether or not you will need to declare the monetary instruments that you plan to travel with, contact Brett V. Beaubien as soon as possible to get a clearer understanding of your rights. 

If you failed to report your funds and CBP has seized your money, your best bet is to contact an attorney such as Brett V. Beaubien who is knowledgeable and experienced with these matters. There is an administrative process by which you can attempt to access your funds with the assistance of a skilled attorney. This is key to maximizing your chance of getting your money back and minimizing your chances of exposing yourself to civil and criminal fines, which can add to an already costly forfeiture.

Categories: Rhode Island Laws

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