How Much Money Can I Bring on a Plane? [2022] (TSA & Foreign Laws)

2023-01-08 02:56:28 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

You have a large sum of money and need to ship it across the country or around the world. But how much cash are you actually allowed to bring with you?

As a frequent traveler, I've learned a lot about the ins and outs of bringing cash with me on the road and in the air, and I'm going to

I'll also go over a few things to keep in mind before passing through TSA with cash or traveling internationally.

How much money do you have to take with you?

There are no restrictions on how much money you can bring with you on a trip, but there are important factors to think about.

When traveling within a country, keeping your money safe should be your top priority.

It's important to remember to declare any cash or valuables worth more than $10,000 when traveling internationally, as forfeiture is a real possibility if you forget to do so. You'll want to read on to learn more.

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Carrying large amounts of money on a trip can be difficult. Check that you have a complete picture of the difficulties

Possibilities of getting into trouble for transporting cash

TSA's focus is on stopping potentially lethal threats like explosives, not on enforcing the law. (Because of this, they do not conduct a warrant check. )

There is no reason for other passengers to be concerned that your cash money could cause harm on the plane.

On the other hand, there have been cases where TSA agents have confiscated cash from passengers on the suspicion that it was obtained illegally or was intended for use in illegal activities.

Consider the role of drugs, weapons, and organized crime in your thoughts.

The section of the United States Code governing forfeitures, Title 21, subsection (a)(6), can be used to seize money.

It says you have no legal claim to:

All proceeds traceable to any exchange of a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter; and (6) all moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical; and any securities that were used, or were intended to be used, to commit a violation of this chapter

If a TSA agent notices a large amount of cash on you or in your bag, especially if it's in a lot of smaller bills like $20s, they may contact law enforcement on your behalf (i.e., confiscate the cash). e , Drug Enforcement Administration) for questioning of some sort

The government could look up your name on a watch list, but even if they don't find anything suspicious, they could decide that your cash is forfeitable and take it all.

You can find yourself in this position even if you have never been convicted of a crime.

A lot of money has come into contact with illegal drugs, and some airport patrol dogs have a nose for cash.

Actually, in 2009, researcher Yuegang Zuo from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth found that about 90% of banknotes contain traces of cocaine. Cash has also been tested and found to contain traces of other drugs such as codeine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.

That raises the possibility of "false positives," which could be used as additional evidence of your illegal activity (dogs reportedly have trouble detecting such trace amounts).

The process by which your money was seized should allow you to appeal and get it back.

It's an unusual court case in which the defendant is your money: "United States of America v. The equivalent of US$50,000 in cash ”

That's significant because it means the court only needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (in a civil case) that you were guilty of wrongdoing.

It's possible that submitting a petition won't be a lot of fun, could take a long time, and could end up costing you a lot of For instance, you might have to hire an attorney, which could end up costing as much as you have at stake.

It's possible that your rate of success is quite low as well.

As reported by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General in March 2017, the DEA only returned funds in 8% of cases over a 10-year period.

Even if you do get your money back, it is likely that any taxes or judgments will have to be paid before you see a dime.

Given these considerations, I would try to bring no more than a few thousand dollars in cash through TSA.

Two hundred dollars is the most money I'd ever consider carrying on me at any given time.

People who want to gamble or buy a car with cash at their destination may find this difficult, so they are advised to make other arrangements to receive their cash once they arrive.

Money-saving advice for domestic trips

Here's what I'd tell you to do if you want to pass through TSA with cash in hand:

Reduce it to the minimum required

To begin, try not to bring more than $2,000 in cold hard cash. That's significantly less than the six-thousand-dollar threshold I've seen for forfeiture, so it shouldn't raise eyebrows.

Also, avoid using $20 bills because they are commonly exchanged for drugs.

Immediately inform a member of the TSA

If you must travel with cash, you may want to ask a TSA agent at the front of the line about the possibility of a private or secondary screening.

A TSA agent may give you a more relaxed screening if they see that you have TSA Pre® Check, but this is not a guarantee that you will not be stopped for questioning.

It's important to remember that even when people voluntarily alert a TSA agent, cash has been seized in some instances.

In addition, it goes without saying that you shouldn't try to hide the money on your person by, say, strapping it to your chest, since full-body scanners will detect it right away.

Keep your bags unchecked.

You shouldn't put the money in your checked luggage, even if that's what you're thinking.

One, you won't be around if the cash was spotted, so you might be taken by surprise when the DEA comes to question you.

Second, an unethical TSA agent might just take your cash if it's spotted.

Lastly, cash is almost always excluded from baggage insurance policies, so you'll lose it if your luggage is lost.

Don't forget your proof!

If you are transporting a large sum of money in order to buy a car or take care of some other transaction, you should have all the necessary paperwork with you in case you are questioned.

If you are caught transporting cash and can't provide a foolproof explanation, the money could be confiscated on the spot.

Don't carry anything that looks suspicious

In order to avoid giving the impression that you're involved in illegal drug activity, it's best not to transport items like marijuana alongside your cash.

Even if the state from which you are departing has legalized marijuana, this remains the case.

Take into account your criminal record.

Finally, if you have a criminal record, especially one involving drug offenses, you have a greater chance of having an issue with forfeiture.

That's because they'll have an easier time arguing that you deserve punishment. Keep in mind that we are discussing the burden of proof in a civil court, not a criminal court.

If this describes you, you should probably rethink bringing a large sum of money.

Currency in excess of $10,000 is subject to declaration requirements and the international

You may bring "any amount of currency or other monetary instruments into or out of the United States," as stated by US Customs and Border Protection. ”

The only catch is that if the total value of the currency or equivalent exceeds $10,000, you'll need to submit a FinCEN Form 105 ("Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments") to the U.S. Treasury. S Border Patrol and Customs Administration

This is a short form that essentially just needs the following details filled in:

  • Information such as a passport number and a contact phone number
  • Importation and Exportation Data
  • Include shipping details if relevant.
  • Particulars about the money in question
  • Signature

U.S. Customs and Border Protection ( accepts either electronic or paper submissions of the FinCEN Form 105 CMIR.

As an added precaution, visitors to the United States are required to report any cash or other monetary instruments in their possession that exceed $10,000.

A Customs Declaration (CBP Form 6059B) and a FinCEN Form 105 are both acceptable places to make this declaration.

Do not ignore this rule or you risk having your money confiscated and facing serious criminal charges.

Keep in mind that you must comply with the regulations of the country you are visiting if you plan on bringing any cash with you.

Instrument of currency exchange

In the context of the FinCEN Form 105, the term "monetary instrument" may be unfamiliar to you unless you spent three years studying law.

In the words of US CBP, it means:

  • Currency
  • Money orders or other types of traveler's checks
  • All forms of negotiable instruments (including but not limited to personal checks, business checks, official bank checks, cashier's checks, third-party checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are in bearer form, endorsed without restriction, made out to a fictitious payee, or otherwise in such form that title passes upon delivery.
  • Incomplete instruments (including but not limited to personal checks, business checks, official bank checks, cashiers' checks, third-party checks, promissory notes, and money orders) signed but missing the payee's name
  • Bearer securities or stocks in which the transfer of ownership occurs automatically upon delivery

The term "currency" is used throughout this piece to refer primarily to cash. ”

In particular, 19 Code of Federal Regulations Section 1010 The term "currency" is defined in Section 100(m) as coins and paper money issued by the United States or any other country and that:

  • bills that (1) are recognized as legal tender, (2) are in circulation, and (3) are widely used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance  
  • Money in the United States Dollar S I.O.U.s, U.S. S Banknotes, Federal Reserve Notes, and Other Notes  
  • Foreign banknotes that are legally issued and universally accepted as payment for goods and services abroad are also considered currency.

The most important thing to remember is that this ban affects currency from the United States and other countries.

Whether you are transporting British Pounds, Euros, or any other major world currency, you can rest assured that it will meet all of the aforementioned specifications.

Don't forget that different currencies and financial instruments have different values. That means you're over the limit if you have ,000 in cash and a $5,000 traveler's check.

All members of a household entering the United States together must file a joint or family declaration, and they must disclose if their combined assets exceed $10,000.

As an example, a married couple with a combined total of $10,000 (the husband's $4,000 and the wife's ,000) would be required to file.  

Things that can't be used as money

Even though not all forms of currency are considered legal tender, you may be required to report certain items as "merchandise" ”

Silver and gold coins, for instance, are not "monetary instruments" or "currency" because they are not issued by a central bank. ” 

But if you buy precious metal coins from another country, you must report them as merchandise.

Gold bullion, gold bars, and gold jewelry are not "monetary instruments" or "currency" either. ”

If these items are purchased internationally, however, they must also be declared as merchandise.

In addition, they have a list of prohibited items that includes:

  • Bills of lading and warehouse receipts
  • Checks, drafts, and money orders that are payable to a specific individual but are either not endorsed or bear restrictive endorsements
  • Cards such as credit and prepaid debit
  • Bitcoin and other virtual currencies

So, you can go about your travels worry-free if you have a credit card limit of more than $50,000 or a substantial amount of cryptocurrency stashed away.

Do not forget that the regulations here apply equally to US dollars and other currencies.

Spending money on things like meals and sightseeing is almost inevitable when traveling. For a variety of reasons, it is wise to pay for such purchases with a credit card that offers valuable travel rewards.

Making it through Checkpoint Charlie

You'll have to go through security with your bag full of cash at some point. Locations like airports, train stations, and bus terminals are examples.

Above, we discussed the potential consequences that would arise if a screening agent discovered that you were carrying large amounts of cash in a bag.

Peril of theft

Bringing cash on a trip, or leaving it in your hotel room, is a risky proposition.

There is always the risk of being robbed if you are out and about with money. Someone like this might try to steal money or valuables from you by rummaging through your pockets or bag.

On the other hand, it could be someone who threatens you with a weapon and demands money from you.

It is wise to bring both a real wallet and a fake one if you plan on carrying cash while traveling. To make your fake wallet look real, you should put some fake cash, fake credit cards, and fake identification in it.

If someone were to steal your real wallet, the fake one would limit the amount of money or other valuables they could get away with. This would allow you to conceal your true cash reserve.

You should also exercise caution if you decide to keep any cash in your hotel room. You should not put all of your cash in the hotel safe. It's possible that you'd be better off just concealing your money in an inconspicuous location within the room.

Whatever your plans may be, you should think carefully before leaving the house with a large amount of cash.

Safety nets for your vacation

Using a solid travel credit card to fund your trips and adventures is one way to obtain insurance coverage.

Therefore, if you buy a hotel room or tour and then have to cancel because of illness or another covered reason, you will be refunded the full cost of your reservation. This could potentially save you thousands of dollars.

However, if you paid for an expense like your hotel with cash, you may be completely out of luck and must bear the loss.

It could be difficult to even pay for some of your trip, like a rental car, in cash.

Currency exchange rates

There will always be a fee associated with exchanging cash into a foreign currency, and the rate you receive may be less than ideal, especially at those kiosks.

There are ATM cards that charge minimal fees for withdrawing local currency, but a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is the most convenient way to shop while abroad.


Purchases made in a foreign country can earn you valuable rewards with a travel credit card.

It's not hard to find a credit card that rewards you more heavily for everyday purchases like airfare, hotel stays, and even activities like concerts and sporting events. The Amex Gold Card makes it simple to rack up bonus points at restaurants, both at home and abroad.

You won't be able to take advantage of any of these perks if you pay with cash.

Final word

Carrying a large sum of money around while traveling is dangerous because criminals frequently do so.

If you absolutely must bring a large amount of cash, you should do your best to back it up with as much documentation as possible and be ready to answer questions and possibly engage in legal battle with the government in order to get your money back.

Daniel Gillaspia

UponArriving was founded by Daniel Gillaspia. com and the brains behind the WalletFlo credit card app He's a lawyer-turned-full-time credit card rewards/travel expert who's used his miles to see the world. Since 2014, his writing has appeared in prestigious periodicals like National Geographic and Smithsonian. This page contains his complete biography.

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