Tag: CBP

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.

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.

CBP Seizes $559,000 in Arizona

CBP seized more than a half-million dollars from a 37 year old Mexican man who had hid the cash in the spare tire of his truck when crossing the border from the United States to Mexico, CBP reports. Hiding the cash is bulk cash smuggling. The contains a somewhat odd and misleading statement about how the government brings criminal charges, more on that below this story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Arizona’s Port of San Luis arrested a Mexican national after seizing more than $559,000 in undeclared currency.

Officers performing outbound inspections referred the 37-year-old man Thursday afternoon, when a search of his Chevy truck led to the discovery of packages inside of his spare tire. A count of the cash totaled more than $559,290.

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

Federal law allows officers to charge individuals by complaint, a method that allows the filing of charges for criminal activity without inferring guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The last paragraph contains the odd statements. Federal law does allow the use of complaint to file criminal charges, but without “inferring guilt”? My dictionary tells me “inferring” means to “deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements”. That doesn’t make sense; I think what they meant to say was that a complaint can be filed, and by the filing of the complaint, the subject of the criminal investigation is “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

The statement goes on to say that, sort of, but instead of saying “until proven guilty” it says “until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” The problem here is that evidence must be not only presented, but it is up for the jury to make the determination that the evidence is enough to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And I’m not sure about the use of the term “competent” evidence; generally speaking, for evidence to even be submitted to a jury it must be relevant and issues of “competence” would, to my mind, only apply to individuals giving testimony. If someone is not competent to testify (due to insanity, minority, etc.), they would not be allowed to testify and therefore not have that testimony heard by the jury.



A CBP officer conducts a primary inspection at the SENTRI lane at Hidalgo International Bridge.

CBP seizes $11,00 from Trusted Traveler participant

Recently, CBP in Texas seized almost $11,000 from a “trusted traveler” who hid the money in her purse, in what sounds like it might be a bulk cash smuggling violation. I get several clients who have had money or undeclared goods seized, and who are members of trusted traveler programs, and are upset to find out that they are losing their trust traveler privileges. CBP has recently published a compilations of reasons people have been denied or had Global Entry revoked available here.

As this article somewhat explains, participation in these programs is a privilege, not a right; it is based on CBP’s determination that you are a low risk. If you demonstrate that you are no longer a low risk by not declaring goods or cash, then you will lose the privilege. The full story is available here, but it is edited for clarity by yours truly, as follows:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) at the Hidalgo International Bridge recently seized $10,652 in unreported U.S. currency from a Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) member utilizing the trusted traveler lane.

On March 2, CBP officers at the Hidalgo International Bridge conducting inspections at the SENTRI lane selected a 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe for further inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 40-year-old female United States citizen from Pharr, TX. During the secondary search, officers discovered a total of $10,652 in unreported U.S. currency concealed throughout the woman’s purse.

CBP OFO seized the currency and revoked the woman’s SENTRI privileges. The case remains under investigation by Homeland Security Investigations special agents.

“CBP would like to remind the traveling public that SENTRI is a trusted traveler program, and any violations of program rules, such as non-declaration of currency in excess of $10,000, can lead to permanent revocation of SENTRI privileges,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “SENTRI members have demonstrated that they are low-risk travelers, and should be reminded that they are not exempt from inspection and more importantly, that violations of customs, immigration, agriculture laws and federal currency reporting requirements can lead to suspension from the program.”

SENTRI is a trusted traveler program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. via a dedicated lane. Participants must undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., however, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they will need to report it to CBP. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

Have you had cash or goods seized by CBP?

If you had cash or goods seized by CBP and are a trusted traveler, you will lose your trusted traveler status. However, you might still be able to get the seized cash or goods back if you act quickly; contact Great Lakes Customs Law for a consultation to learn what you can do to get your cash and goods back from CBP.


Trucks line up for inspection at Peace Bridge Port of Entry, Buffalo, N.Y.

CBP Buffalo Seizes $144,733 Cash

During fiscal year 2017, CBP in Buffalo reports they seized cash from a total of 10 people, and a total amongst those 10 of $144,733. I didn’t have any clients among those 10 last year, but I have handled cash seizure cases in Buffalo in the past.

In years past, we’ve commented on the annual fiscal year report from CBP in Buffalo.

  • FY 2015: CBP Buffalo seized $267,323 in a total of 22 currency seizures;
  • FY 2014: CBP Buffalo seized over $450,000 in a total of 23 currency seizures;

Here’s the breakdown of all Enforcement and Traffic incidents at the Port of Buffalo from October 2016 through October 2017:

Enforcement Statistics Traffic Statistics
Narcotic Seizures


Port of Entry

Personal Vehicles




Currency Seizures

10 Totaling: $144,733




Merchandise Seizures

1,564 Totaling: $2,133,393






Trout River



Agriculture Pest Interceptions


Alex Bay



Trade Seizures

1,331 Totaling:

$1,712,599 DV




Intellectual Property Rights Seizures

1,230 Totaling:

$1,576,944 DV




Note: DV refers to domestic value

Have you cash seized by CBP in Buffalo?

If Buffalo CBP seized cash from you can learn more about the process from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

An image of a traveler's with $10,000 sewn into his pants which was seized by uscbU.S. Customs & Border Protection

Boston CBP Seizes Cash Sewn into Pants

CBP officers at Boston’s Logan airport seized nearly $30,000 from a man who was returning from Israel. The story, detailed below, reveals that the money reported traveling with $14,000; CBP inspected his bags, discovered another $4,000 which led to a more intensive search. It was at this point that they discovered $10,000 sewn into the lining of his pants. CBP seized the cash.

The bulk cash smuggling law states:

Whoever, with the intent to evade a currency reporting requirement under section 5316, knowingly conceals more than $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments on the person of such individual . . . shall be guilty of a currency smuggling offense . . . . the concealment of currency on the person of any individual includes concealment in any article of clothing worn by the individual . . .

Sewing it $10,000 into your pants is classic, along with not reporting the full amount you are carrying in other places, is classic bulk cash smuggling. Here’s the full story from CBP

BOSTON – On January 18, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Logan International Airport intercepted an inbound traveler found with a stack of concealed currency sewn into the lining of his pants.

The subject, a 51-year-old male, U.S. citizen arriving on a flight from Israel, reported to officers that he was carrying $7,000 and an extra $7,000 for a family friend. During a baggage examination, the subject presented approximately $18,000 however, further inspection revealed an additional $10,000 sewn into the pockets of his pants. In total, CBP officers discovered and seized more than $29,000.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States. Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form. None of the currency is taxed.

“There is no limit to how much money a traveler can carry, but it is important to honestly declare the total amount to CBP officers during inspection,” said Boston Area Port Director Clint Lamm. “This seizure exemplifies that violating currency reporting laws can have serious consequences.”

According to NECN, “During a baggage examination, officers found another $4,000 in his luggage. An additional $10,000 was found sewn into the pockets of his pants, a discovery the department is referring to as ‘hot pockets.'”

Have you had cash seized at Boston Logan airport?

If you’ve had cash seized at Boston Logan airport, you can learn more from our trusted legal guide to a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.
Stacks of cash that Houston CBP seized from travelers leaving the country

Houston CBP Seizes $100K Cash from Travelers

It’s been almost a year since CBP reported on Houston airport cash seizures (the last story is here), even though CBP taking cash at Houston airport is pretty common. As with all CBP money seizures, the money is most typically taken by CBP for a failure to report it, structuring it, or smuggling it. In this story, a couple was carrying $110,204 to Taiwan — but only reported $50,000. Here’s the full article:

HOUSTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized over $100,000 Dec.7 after travelers made repeated inaccurate reports about the amount of money they were carrying.

“International travelers can carry an unlimited amount of money traveling into or departing from the U.S., but are required to report currency over $10,000,” said Houston CBP Acting Port Director Steven Scofield. “Those who refuse to comply with the federal reporting requirements face the risk of having the currency seized.”

Two passengers, both U.S. citizens, traveling from Houston to Taiwan were selected for a baggage inspection. The travelers were given multiple opportunities to truthfully declare the amount of money they were carrying. The couple reported carrying just over $50,000, however, CBP officers found $110, 204 in the travelers’ respective wallet, purse, backpack and jacket.

The currency was seized by CBP as the travelers failed to properly report the money as required by U.S. law. The travelers were released to continue on with their travels.

Too bad, and so sad. This cash seizure could have been complete avoided by properly reporting the cash to customs before (or even at the time of) departure.

Was your money seized at Houston airport?

If you’ve had money seized at Houston airport by CBP you can learn more 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 Seizes Guns & Money to Mexico

Guns, money, and and lawyers; the first two items are what this disjointed story from CBP is about, and the last is what the 3 people involved in this cash and firearm seizures by CBP will need. Customs seized $20,000 outbound to Mexico which resulted in an arrest, another $38,000 that probably (but not certainly resulted in an arrest), and a a cache of guns and ammo.

It reminds me of the song, “Lawyers, Guns & Money” (the Hank Williams, Jr. cover of the song is a bit more lively…. ). The total amount seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection was $58,000 cash. Anyway, here’s the story from CBP:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested two Mexican nationals Tuesday after finding unreported U.S. currency, weapons and ammunition in separate seizures.

Officers referred a 27-year-old Mexican man for a further search of his Dodge sedan Tuesday night and found more than $20,000 in unreported U.S. currency within the vehicle’s center console. This is the second unreported currency seizure this week.

On March 11, Lukeville officers prevented $38,000 from being smuggled into Mexico.

At about the same time, officers referred a 43-year-old Mexican woman for a secondary inspection of the Dodge truck she was driving. That search turned up multiple firearms and associated accessories to include several assault rifles, a handgun, multiple ammunition magazines, two weapon scopes and approximately 6,000 rounds of ammunition.


Bulk cash hidden in the vehicle panels seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes Money Going into Mexico

20 stacks of new U.S. currency seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for smuggling and failure to report cash to customs
CBP in Lukeville Arizona seized $38,000 of concealed currency heading into Mexico.

Here’s a quick story about a money seizure that happened when someone was going into Mexico earlier this week.CBP seized almost $40k in cash that was hidden in the interior panel of a van in Lukeville, Arizona. The driver was a 31 year old Mexican man. Here’s the brief story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a 31-year-old Mexican man Saturday after finding $38,000 of unreported U.S. currency concealed in a quarter panel of his Ford van.

Officers seized the money and vehicle, and turned the driver over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Every once in a while a seizure like this is not connected to the drug trade. I’ve represented people who’ve had cash seized crossing the border with Mexico who hid it in the vehicle just to keep it safe. In a case like this, even if the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use the person involved is still responsible for a bulk cash smuggling violation. The consequences of that include forfeiture (permanent loss) of all the money, fines, and jail time. The best case scenario would be no criminal charges, and a return of most of the money.

Have you had money seized going into Mexico?

If you had money seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection going into Mexico 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.