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Rules for Declaring Money at Customs

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency doesn't restrict the amount of money you can mail, take out or bring back into the United States. But, if the amount of money is $10,000 or more, including mailing money into or out of the country, you must first report it on the correct Currency Reporting Form to the U.S. Customs agency. Failure to report money is a violation of the U.S. Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act. When you don't report money on the proper form of this amount or above, your money will be taken from you and it may be several months before it is returned, if it is returned at all.

It's not enough to answer "yes" to the question at customs when asked if carrying amounts of $10,000 or more. A yes answer will begin a thorough examination of your luggage and personal items, and if you have more than $10,000 without the proper form filed with the U.S. Customs first, all of your money will be immediately seized. This includes you or any family members in your group bringing $10,000 or more U.S. dollars, or its foreign equivalent into the United States.

The U.S. Customs office defines this as cash, stocks, bonds, money orders, personal or cashier's checks, coins and cash. If you're declaring more than $10,000, have your copy of a FinCen Form 105, a document issued by the Department of Treasury, ready for the customs officials.

If the customs department seizes your money, a formal seizure notice will be issued by U.S. Customs. To get your money back, may require hiring a customs attorney and will require that you prove a legitimate source of the money and intended use. This also includes whenever you mail money outside of the country or receive it through the mail as well.

Money Declarations in Foreign Countries

In countries that recognize the euro, such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, Spain and the Canary Islands, Belgium, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Denmark, France, Germany, Estonia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania or Italy, you must declare any cash that equals 10,000 euros or more. This again applies to checks, money orders, traveler's checks, cash, coins, stocks and bonds. You must fill the Cash Declaration form.

Prepare for Travel in Advance

Check the cash equivalency amounts before traveling to ensure that you have the correct forms on hand if exceeding the amount required for declaration when traveling.

These aren't the only declarations that you need to make when traveling. Each country lists the items that must be declared including items purchased within the country or items you might be bringing in. For example, Mexico allows the free import of a carton of cigarettes, 50 grams of pipe tobacco, 12 rolls of film, photo and movie cameras, goods up to $300 in American dollars and a limited amount of perfume. Anything over these amounts must be declared. Most countries do not allow you to bring in food stuffs, soil, plants, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Each country usually has its own website with the needed forms you can download and fill out ahead of time to make your journey through its customs an easy and painless experience. Knowing the rules ensures you have an enjoyable experience when traveling abroad. When in doubt, check with the U.S. embassy in the country in which you are traveling, if you are already abroad.