Tag: preclearance

CBP Seizes $18,000 in Abu Dhabi, UAE

CBP seized about $18,000 from a set of travelers traveling to the United States from the United Arab Emirates.

That’s not unusual but might be surprising to some, because most seizures occur on U.S. soil either at the time of departure, or at arrival. CBP operates “preclearance” centers in a few spots around the globe. The idea of the preclearance center is to do the customs work before the person ever steps on U.S. soil, so that upon their arrival, they do not have to go through customs at all, because it was already done in the country of departure.

It’s not too unusual, because since October 1, 2018, CBP has seized more than $2 million from passengers at pre-clearance centers for violations of the currency reporting requirements.

The Wikipedia article says that CBP officers operating on foreign soil do not have the full power of search and arrest that they enjoy in the United States, and so most things must be done with the consent of the passenger:

Since CBP does not have legal powers on foreign soil, passengers can be detained for local laws only by local authorities. Passengers can choose to abandon their flight and refuse search, and unlike in the United States, officers cannot search them. Most preclearance facilities have a sign explaining so.


The particulars of these case, beyond the fact that it happened in the UAE, are not different from situations we usually blog about. So, on to the story:

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Abu Dhabi Preclearance seized $18,357 in unreported currency, Feb. 18. 

A U.S. couple and another family member were traveling to Wisconsin and Iowa respectively when CBP officers working at the Preclearance facility asked the family for a currency declaration.  The family reported carrying $8500.

When CBP officers requested the family complete the required FinCEN Form, the family group amended the currency amount to $17,000.  However, during the baggage examination, CBP officers discovered the U.S. couple was carrying $18,357. 

“International travelers can carry an unlimited amount of money into or departing from the U.S., but they are required to report traveling with currency over $10,000,” said CBP Preclearance Director of Field Operations Clint Lamm.  “Those who refuse to comply with the federal reporting requirements risk having the currency seized.”

The travelers were given multiple opportunities to truthfully report the amount of money they were carrying.  CBP officers seized $17,357 and the group was allowed to continue their travel.

In FY 2019, CBP Preclearance has seized nearly $2 million in unreported currency from travelers refusing to provide a truthful declaration.

Stacks of $100 bills in row after a customs currency seizure in a story about reporting currency in the Caribbean.

Reporting Currency in the Caribbean (CBP Reminder)

U.S. Customs (CBP) has issued a public reminder on reporting currency in the Caribbean to travelers to when either entering the United States or at their preclearance facilities in Nassau or other foreign countries. This is might be connected with the recent Caribbean traveler who did not report $45,000 in currency that we blogged about.

Here’s the reminder from CBP on reporting currency in the Caribbean directed at travelers:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seen a recent spike among Caribbean travelers who are not reporting the required currency amount to CBP officers at ports of entry upon entering or departing the United States.


Stacks of $100 bills in row after a customs currency seizure in a story about reporting currency in the Caribbean.
Reporting currency in the Caribbean is a requirement when entering or leaving the United States and at CBP preclearance centers.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., but if it is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP using a Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network FinCEN Form 105.


If travelers have someone else carry the currency or monetary instrument for them, they must file a currency report for the entire amount with CBP. Failure to report [cash] carries serious consequences.


“It is important for all travelers to make an accurate declaration of all monetary instruments,” said Jeff Mara, CBP port director for Nassau Preclearance. “Upon a failure to do so, they not only face the possibility of a penalty or seizure of all their funds, but they also face potential criminal prosecution.”

This reminder on reporting currency in the Caribbean should not fall on deaf ears. In our legal roadmap of a customs money seizure we provide a detailed explanation of the consequences of traveling with money and not report that money to CBP, and why you should be extraordinarily careful in what you do and say in trying to get the money back.

We have been trusted by over 130 people, as shown in our case results section, to help get their seized currency returned.

CBP Seized $45k cash in Nassau

CBP has preclearance centers which are basically the same as customs in the United States, but just located in a foreign country; this is to facilitate travel and enforcement of the laws. One such law enforced at preclearance centers is the requirement to report more than $10,000 being transported into the United States. CBP has pre-clearance in the Bahamas.

Over the weekend, Customs seized $45,000 in Nassau from one or more people for failing to report currency over $10,000, and tweeted a picture of the seizure:

This was responded to by a tweet that made me smile: “What are you going to do with it?” Classic! CBP has not responded (in fact, they may have deleted the tweet?). But here’s our answer so you will know what customs does with seized cash. I went ahead and explained that customs does not always keep seized currency if the person can prove it came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use by responding to the notice of seizure

Which caused another person to ask:

I responded that the best answer is is probably “Sometimes” and that the reporting requirement is actually “more than $10,000” not $10,000. Remember, I say sometimes because even if you make the an accurate report the money is still subject to seizure for other reasons, such as a suspicion that it is connected to money laundering or some criminal activity.

I suspect this Nassau customs cash confiscation of $45,000 is the result of more than one currency seizure for failure to report. That’s because the picture cash in the picture does not appear to add up to $45,000, but somewhere around $30,000 (assuming each stack is $1,000).

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