U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $43,000 from a Belgium-bound man on March 14 at Washington Dulles International Airport.
CBP currency detector dog Cato alerted as the man prepared to board his flight to Brussels. The man verbally reported to CBP officers that he possessed $15,000, then admitted to possessing $37,000 as officers prepared to examine his baggage. The man completed a FINCEN105 reporting $37,000. During that baggage exam, officers discovered a combined $43,409 in U.S. currency. Officers seized the currency and released the man.
Although there is no limit to the amount of money that travelers may carry when crossing U.S. borders, federal law [31 U.S.C. 5316] requires that travelers report currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the United States. During inspections, CBP officers ensure that travelers fully understand federal currency reporting requirements and offer travelers multiple opportunities to accurately report all currency and monetary instruments they possess before examining a traveler’s carryon or checked baggage.
Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, and potential criminal charges. CBP seized about $386,000 every day in unreported or illicit currency along the nation’s borders last year.
An individual may petition for the return of seized currency, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.