If you’re visiting the United States or leaving the United States and have more than $10,000 cash or equivalents, you must report it to CBP or risk having it seized for failing to report it (or worse yet, risk fines and jail time). A case in point comes to us from CBP at Dulles Airport from “from two South Africa-bound U.S. citizens on [September 22] for violating federal currency reporting violations“:
During an outbound inspection, the man and wife declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that they possessed $17,500; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $27,378 on their person and in their luggage. The officers seized the $27,378 and advised them how to petition for the return of the currency. The travelers were then released to continue their journey.
So after the cash was taken, the couple was detained, questioned, and the cash counted, they were released to continue their journey.
What is a CBP detention like after cash is taken?
Typically after cash is taken by CBP, the seizure and detention takes long enough that the traveler’s cannot continue on their journey until the book a new flight (and pay re-booking fees). If husband and wife are traveling together, most of my husband-and-wife clients report that they are separated from each other and independently interrogated about the source of the cash and their intended destination, and what they intended to use the money for.
This interrogation can be done by a CBP officer or by a Homeland Security agent, depending on the situation. Customs’ is required to report the currency report violation to the U.S. Attorney’s office who is charged with determining whether or not they wish to press criminal charges, and thus determine if the violators should be arrested.
The encounters with CBP range from polite and apologetic to demeaning, rude, and aggressive; and everything else in between.
Did CBP take your cash?
If CBP took your cash, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.