CBP Bill Notice of Debt

Why Did I Receive a Bill From CBP?

Frequently, we are contacted by people who receive a bill from Customs by mail. By this, they literally mean a bill, with a spot on the bottom that you’re tear off and return with payment like your utility bill. Here’s an example:

CBP Bill Notice of Debt

As you can see, this is different from the notice of penalty or liquidated damages. A penalty or liquidated damage notice invites the recipient to file a petition for remission or mitigation. Here, there is no such offer; the debt is due, and you are given little time to pay.

Why did I get a bill from CBP?

Well, it means you owe money to CBP. It could be because of failure to pay duties for merchandise imported (regular duties, or anti-dumping or countervailing duties), or you failed to take action after receiving a penalty notice/liquidated damages notice by either not paying the mitigated penalty timely, or by not responding at all.

You can usually figure out what the nature of the debt is by looking carefully at the bill, even if it’s not easily determined at first glance.

If you have no idea why you’re receiving the bill from CBP, it may indicate you did not receive notice of the debt. It may also indicate you are a very, very inexperienced importer that is definitely in need of an education.

Notice of Penalty or Liquidated Damages Inccured by CBP

Failure to Report Arrival or Advance Electronic Cargo Information Penalty

U.S. Customs & Border Protection enforces many laws and regulations that concern arriving at the border, presenting merchandise to Customs, filing advance cargo information, and unloaded merchandise or off-loading passengers without authorization.

For instance, 19 CFR 123.92 requires advance cargo information for commercial shipments from Canada and Mexico be sent to CBP electronically 30 minutes or 1 hour prior to the “carrier’s reaching the first port of arrival in the United States, or such lesser time as authorized . . .” even if the carrier is just transiting through the United States.

Similarly, 19 USC 1433 requires that any vessel, vehicle, and aircraft report their arrival, and present all person and merchandise for inspection to a customs officer.

What happens if fail to report arrival or violate CBP’s entry regulations?

If you fail to report arrival, present false documents or paperwork, violate regulations regarding the entry and arrival of vehicles, or discharge passengers or merchandise without Customs authorization, you are liable to a penalty of $5,000, and possibly seizure of the conveyance and the merchandise stored in it.

If you have a prior offense, the amount can increase to $10,000. In the case of an unreported or improperly entered conveyance, Customs can impose the value of the merchandise (or if they conveyance itself is the merchandise… the value of the conveyance) in addition to the $5,000 or $10,000 standard penalty.

If receive a penalty for these failures under 19 USC 1436, we can file a petition for mitigation and you can expect your mitigated penalty to be reduced. The reduction varies on the type of violation, who committed, and the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.

Coming Reforms to CBP Regulations

A few weeks back, the Commercial Customs Operations
Advisory Committee (COAC), met in Washington DC. COAC is a 20-person committee that was established by Congress, and it “provides advice and recommendations to CBP and the Department of the Treasury on the commercial operations of CBP and trade-related interdepartmental functions.”

The press release for the event gives us some insight into the ongoing work to reduce and simplify the regulations used by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. The end-result could be 35% reduction to the text of the regulations:

Updating the regulations was a collaborative effort. “We had subject matter experts go section by section through the regulations and identify the pain points, the problems, the language, whatever the difficulty was,” said James Swanson, director of cargo, security and control in CBP’s Office of Field Operations. “This was a big effort. But it was important to industry and quite frankly, it was important to me. It makes it easier to enforce and easier to identify what the regulations are. We expect to reduce the overall size and text of the regulations by about 35 percent,” he said.

They also issued a regulatory reform issue paper, that goes into a little more detail on non-public regulation reforms:

  • Revenue modernization
  • Modernizing the vessel arrival process to be automated and streamlined
  • Updating the regulations to account for eBond functionality in ACE
  • Free Trade Zone modernization (also a COAC working group)
  • Advance Electronic Data for international mail
  • Export manifest modernization
  • Changes to the in-bond process (also a COAC working group)
  • Bonded warehouse modernization
  • Liquidation process modernization
  • Updating regulations for ACE functionality

ACE is among the most exciting things to happen with CBP for a customs practitioner in a long time; it streamlines (i.e., makes paperless) the protest filing process. That, coupled with the online publication of the bulletin notices of liquidation, makes life much easier and much more efficient for us customs lawyers.

Updating the regulations for ACE functionality and liquidation modernization should prove to be the most enticing changes to the regulations for practitioners.

Image of Canadian and US cash seized by CBP at Massena NY by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Officers at Massena Seize $24,000 in Unreported Currency

Customs officers seize cash at land-border crossings just like they seize cash at airports; whether air, land, or sea, Customs has authority to seize unreported, structured, or smuggled cash. It happens at large ports (like San Diego-Tijuana), but also at smaller, sleepier, less densely populated ports, like the Massena Port of Entry in New York (pop. 12,883).

Here’s the full story, with my comments in red, from CBP:

On September 27, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers at the Massena Port of Entry seized approximately $24,000 from a Cambodian citizen who violated the federal currency reporting requirements.

During a secondary examination, the traveler was asked if they had any currency to declare and stated they only possessed pocket change.  [That it was secondary inspection means they already had a chance to declare the cash, but did not.]During the vehicle inspection, a large amount of currency was discovered in the center console of the vehicle. Additionally, it was revealed that the traveler had also concealed more currency within their front trouser waistband. [Combined with a failure to report, the cash being concealed within the console and wasitband will allow Customs to presume it was hidden with intent to smuggle it.]The undeclared currency was a combination of U.S. and Canadian funds and totaled approximately $24,000 U.S. dollars after currency conversion.

“This currency seizure illustrates the importance of travelers complying with all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting regulations, and also highlights the consequences of noncompliance,” said Port Director Robert Dwyer.  “Currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continued commitment to enforce all U.S. laws at our nation’s borders.”

The undeclared currency was seized pursuant to Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5317 for violation of Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5316, failing to declare over $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments. [No mention of 31 USC 5332, the bulk cash smuggling statute. But, often these news releases are not as precise as the actual notice of seizure]. The traveler was subsequently refused admission to the U.S. and returned to Canada. [The traveler is lucky s/he did not also get arrested, as concealing and not reporting cash is punishable as a crime, in addition to seizure of the cash itself.]

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States. Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments to declare this to a CBP officer at an airport, seaport, or land border crossing where they enter or leave the country.

Have you had cash seized by Customs in New York?

The process of getting seized cash from Customs in New York back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If CBP seized cash from you, you can learn more about the process from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

USMCA; United States Mexico Canada Agreement

The re-negotiation (and renaming) of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is one step closer to completion, and will go forward to be finalized by the governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

The newly renamed agreement is the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMC Agreement), and the full text of the agreement is now available. The United States Trade Representative’s office has posted a series of fact sheet with key points of the new agreement.

The White House issued its own fact sheet: President Donald J. Trump Secures A Modern, Rebalanced Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico

President Trump held a news conference on the topic of the trade agreement. You can watch the conference by following this link on C-Span.


A September 28 2018 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Detroit Metro airport.

Detroit Metro Airport Customs Money Seizure; September 28 2018

Today Customs published a notice of all property seized by Customs that is currently pending administrative forfeiture proceedings, as they do each week on forfeiture.gov.  Some weeks, the forfeiture notices for Detroit Metro Airport are uninteresting; some weeks they are interesting, but don’t involve cash.

But this week, the notice is not necessarily as interesting as last week’s 3-days-to-forfeiture post last week, but it is nevertheless loaded with 4 separate cash seizures with a total value of $90,138.36. In fact, it only has cash seizures. Have a look:

DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: November 27, 2018


2018380700090101-0001-0000, Seized on 04/30/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 202; EA; Valued at $15,127.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316

2018380700090101-0002-0000, Seized on 04/30/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; EURO RETAINED; 7; EA; Valued at $263.36; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316

2018380700118001-0001-0000, Seized on 07/14/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 395; EA; Valued at $34,042.00; For violation of 31 USC 5332(c), 31 USC 5332(a), 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(A)

2018380700121501-0001-0000, Seized on 07/23/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; US Currency Retained; 193; EA; Valued at $19,300.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(A)

2018380700125701-0001-0000, Seized on 08/07/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 235; EA; Valued at $21,406.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(B)

All these cases are from seizures that occurred between April and August, 2018. That probably means that someone has tried, and failed, to get the money back by filing an administrative petition. Some people (some of them lawyers), think it’s very easy to get seized cash back from Customs at Detroit Metro airport.

And it can be, if you know what you’re doing. But if you’ve had cash seized by Customs, I can gaurantee you that you don’t know what you’re doing. A customs cash seizure is totally avoidable. So if you’ve had it ceased, you really should not try to help yourself.

Have you had a customs money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport?

If you have a customs money seizure at Detroit Metro airport, don’t do it yourself. Cash seizure cases are often packed with with difficulties and unforeseen challenges. Instead of risking forfeiture and the total loss of your money, do the smart thing and call us for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of the free customs money seizure legal guide we publish on this website.

Pile of cash totaling more than $600,000 seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Brownsville, Teas

Brownsville CBP Seizes $644,285 in Cash

Everything — including CBP cash seizures — are bigger in Texas. Case in point: Last week, CBP officers in Brownsville, Texas, seized more than a half-million in cash from two forty-ish year old U.S. citizens who were heading to Mexico.

The facts in these cases always lead me to believe the currency was being moved as part of the illegal drug trade, and that the men moving the money were likely mules just moving the cash from the sale of drugs made by others, back to the shippers in Mexico. The men picked are likely picked because they do not arouse suspicion, and so CBP should get all the more credit for making a huge seizure such as this.

Here’s the full story (original here) on this mega-cash seizure from Brownsville CBP.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge Port of Entry seized $644,285 in unreported bulk U.S. currency and more than $17,000 in cocaine in separate, unrelated enforcement actions.

“Our CBP officers did an outstanding job in taking down this significant load of bulk currency . . . ” said Port Director Tater Ortiz, Brownsville Port of Entry. “Their vigilance and experience were key factors in their successful interceptions.”

The . . . seizure took place on Wednesday, Sept. 5, when CBP officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 42-year-old male United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas, and a 40-year-old male United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas, and a passenger in the same vehicle who were selected for a routine outbound inspection.  With the aid of a non-intrusive inspection system and canine unit, CBP officers discovered multiple packages of bulk U.S. currency totaling $644,285 hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the currency and narcotics, arrested the travelers and turned them over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Has Brownsville CBP taken your cash?

If Brownsville CBP has taken your cash, please call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

$100 Dollar Bills Slider

ICE arrests reggaeton singer for bulk cash smuggling

No one is exempt from the requirement to report more than $10,000 to CBP upon entering or leaving the United States, and other customs territories (which includes Puerto Rico). Earlier this year, Customs seized $51,802 from a reggaeton singer who goes by the stage name Farruko. Not only was the money seized, but the Farruko was arrested.

Basically, Farruko flew via helicopter from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico with more than $50,000. Upon his arrival in Puerto Rico, he completed the standard customs form on which he denied traveling with more than $10,000. However, CBP searched his bag and found cash, including some hidden in “the soles of his shoes.”

Presumably, the money was seized the same day (though the story does not so state); the next day, HSI agents obtained an arrest warrant and also arrested the singer for, presumably, bulk cash smuggling and failure to file a currency report.

The full story, originally HERE, is as follows:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A reggaeton singer was arrested Tuesday in Bayamon for failure to declare transportation of monetary instruments more than $10,000 and for bulk cash smuggling into the United States. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On April 2, Carlos Efrén Reyes-Rosado, aka Farruko, 27, traveled by helicopter from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. When Reyes-Rosado filled out the CBP 6059B customs declaration form, he indicated that he was not carrying more than $10,000.

HSI special agents initially detained him at the Isla Grande airport in San Juan after a search of his bags revealed that he was carrying approximately $51,802 in U.S. currency in his luggage and in the soles of his shoes in his bags.

On April 3, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin authorized a criminal complaint and issued an arrest warrant against Reyes-Rosado. HSI special agents arrested him the same day.

Reyes-Rosado had his preliminary hearing before McGiverin Wednesday.

[ . . . ]

Assistant U.S. Attorney María L. Montañez oversees the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendant faces a fine of no more than $250,000; five years in prison, or both; and forfeiture of the property involved in the offense.

Have you had bulk cash seized?

The process of getting undeclared currency seized by CBP back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If CBP seized bulk cash from you, you can learn more about the process from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

CBP San Juan Seizes $844,000 Smuggled in TVs

This year, United States Customs & Border Protection officers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, made a staggering cash seizure of $844,000 that being exported from the Puerto Rico (a territory, therefore, within the customs territory of the United States).

Though the story is lacking in many details, it appears the vehicle was being exported from Puerto Rico to destinations unknown, when Customs officers became suspicious about it for some reason. They pulled the vehicle aside for closer examination, and discovered 16 smart TV boxes.

After imaging the boxes, they opened them up and “bundles containing US currency appeared.” That’s how the story puts it (was the cash hidden inside the boxes like a jack-in-the-box?).

Otherwise, the story – though published through another media outlet and available for reading here — appears to hew closely to the standard CBP news release narrative, including a disclaimer that it is OK for travelings to carry more than $10,000 into or out of the country, but it must be reported. This is confusing, especially because the story makes no factual assertion that the money was carried by a traveler.


CBP Officers Seize $13,000 in Arizona

Customs seized $13,000 in money, and arrested, a Yuma, Arizona resident. The man was traveling on a shuttle from Phoenix and was leaving for Mexico.

Because the man did not declare the money as required by 31 USC 5316 (reports of currency), Customs seized the money from the man. As we strive to explain on this customs law blog, importing and exporting more than $10,000 in money is not illegal if the money is reported (preferably on form FinCen105) to Customs prior to attempting to enter or leave the country.

The story, quoted below, does not indicate the man was arrested (although he could have been, as not reporting cash is a crime), but only “turned . . . over to” HSI agents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a Yuma resident after seizing more than $13,000 in undeclared currency Friday.

Officers performing outbound inspections of an arriving shuttle from Phoenix referred a 24-year-old man for further inspection when a search of his luggage led to suspicion. Officers discovered multiple envelopes inside of a backpack with a cash count of more than $13,200.

Customs and Border Protection officers seized the currency, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Have you failed to report money to Customs?

If you failed to report money to Customs and had the cash seized, your rights may have been violated and you can try to get the money back. In most cases, filing an administrative petition for relief or a CAFRA seized asset claim to initiate judicial proceedings is the best way to get your seized cash back from Customs. For more information, reading our customs money seizure legal guide and give us a call!