CBP Domestic Cash Seizures & Civil Asset Forfeiture

Can CBP seize my money on a domestic flight?

Domestic cash seizures (civil asset forfeiture) by Homeland Security Investigations and/or U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) happen to unsuspecting travelers, even on domestic flights from within the United States, going from state to state, never leaving the country!

Even though most of CBP functions are at the international border (or international airport), CBP is also given authority to seize or oversee the seizure of cash that is being moved within the United States, from one state to another.

Is it legal to travel with cash?

It is legal to travel with cash. If you are traveling domestically, there is no cash reporting requirement. If you travel internationally, you must report it if you have more than $10,000.

But if you are suspicious and are traveling with cash you cannot adequately explain, or which sounds suspicious, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and Customs can seize it. These seizures often happen after HSI agents are told by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Agents that they saw a lot of cash in someone’s baggage or on their body through an X-ray.

These seizures happen and customs has authority to dispose of them through seizure and forfeiture by authority of 18 USC 981, what some lawyers will call the “customs carve out” exception in civil asset forfeiture cases. The laws commonly listed on a domestic notice of seizure cited are 18 USC 1956, 18 USC 1957, and 18 USC 1960, and others, such as numerous laws that are called “specified unlawful activity.”

How much cash can I travel with?

If domestically, you can travel with as much as you want. But if you are suspicious (like you have a criminal record), it might not be a good idea to travel with cash but instead transfer money through banks. My advice is: don’t travel with more than you’re willing to have seized.

If you’re traveling with cash internationally, you can also travel with as much as you want. But you do have to properly report it to Customs before you depart or arrive with the cash. Otherwise, you might have your money seized by Customs for a simple reporting violation (read about that here).

Does CBP seize cash shipped through UPS, FedEx, and DHL?

Yes, CBP does seize cash shipped through UPS, FedEx, and DHL, even if it’s not leaving the United States (in other words, it’s being shipped domestically). The reasons for this are the same as for seizures which occur on domestic flights.

Should I ship cash through UPS, DHL, or FedEx?

You should not ship cash through UPS, DHL, FedEx, or the USPS. This is just a terrible idea and if it is not seized for being suspicious, it will probably be stolen by someone along the way. Just don’t do it.

Can you help me get cash seized domestically back?

We can help you get cash seized domestically back. We are very successful.