Customs in Philadelphia Seizes $27k in Unreported Currency

Another news release from customs demonstrates why you should make a truthful declaration to customs when carrying over $10,000 to avoid a customs money seizure. In this instance, a husband and wife were travelling together and between each of them, they possessed over $27,000 in various currencies located in different envelopes. After verbally reporting $6,000, he later reported $16,000 in writing. It’s important to remember that the currency declarations and requirement to report travelling with more than $10,000 applies to all currencies, both foreign and domestic.

As with most cases of this type, it involves questions of potential structuring violations (dividing money up between multiple people to avoid the reporting requirement), bulk cash smuggling (customs will often try to say that concealing the currency in anything shows an intent to smuggle, even if it’s just in an envelope in your luggage in different locations). In order to get their money back, they will need to demonstrate a legitimate source and legitimate intended use and they can do this by filing  a petition.

The story:

Philadelphia – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $27,000 from a Ghana couple Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport after they failed to truthfully report the total currency they possessed.

Neither was criminally charged.

The couple arrived from Germany and was referred to a secondary inspection. The man verbally reported possessing $6,000. After CBP officers explained federal currency reporting requirements, the man then wrote down that he possessed $16,000. During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered multiple envelopes that contained U.S. currency, British pounds, Swiss francs and Ghana cedi. Officers verified the total currency as $27,431.30. Officers returned $500 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and seized the remaining $26,931.30. Officers released the couple to continue their visit.

There is no limit to how much currency that travelers can bring into, or take out of the United States. Travelers are required to formally report amounts of $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars, equivalent foreign currency, or other monetary instruments.

“CBP derives no great pleasure from seizing travelers’ currency. However, there are consequences for failing to comply with U.S. currency reporting laws,” said Tarance Drafts, acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “We hope that all travelers are honest with CBP officers and truthfully declare the total currency they possess or other things that they are bringing from overseas to the U.S.”

If you have had money seized by customs 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 nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures