I will be flying between two, both EU and Schengen-area countries.

Can I take on-board large sum of cash (more than 10k euros) in my hand luggage? I know I need to declare this cash at customs but do I need to pay any fee for that? Can the airline have any regulations that would prohibit flying with large sum of cash?

  • 14
    You can carry it, but why do you need to carry so much cash? It's far safer to transfer the money using a bank, transferring Euros around Europe is trivial, and you don't risk losing or being quizzed by customs.
    – user105640
    Oct 1, 2020 at 8:54
  • 6
    @Arthur'sPass You can usually only open a bank account in the country you are resident, so if OP lives in one EU country and needs cash himself in another EU country, transferring the money is not a trviial solution. Perhaps he wants to buy something valuable in another EU country, does not trust the seller enough to transfer the money to an unknown person and therefore wants to pay cash when picking up whatever he has bought. Oct 1, 2020 at 10:01
  • 17
    The reason why is not the part of the question. I have no intention to do anything illegal.
    – kukis
    Oct 1, 2020 at 10:28
  • 7
    IMO, if someone asks about how to do something illegal, we tell them it is illegal, and that's it. If someone is going to do something not illegal, but unwise, we tell them it is unwise and perhaps give alternatives. WHY they want to do that thing is not our business to determine.
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 1, 2020 at 13:42
  • 26
    "the reason why is not part of the question" -> and your logic is that if you're snippy with us about your privacy, we won't enquire further. That's great, awesome... but That will not work at the customs desk. They have the liberty and the duty to assume you're up to something nefarious. You will have limited ability to rebut that. Since you don't want help crafting that rebuttal, lotsa luck. Oct 1, 2020 at 19:45

5 Answers 5


Cash must be declared even within Schengen countries.

No fee is due on declared cash. That's your own money! You must call a customs officer at the departure airport and ask to declare money for >10000€ in cash.

The reason is fighting money laundering and tax evasion. The declaration form contains your personal identification data, and your EU individual tax code. You are free to move your own money across countries as soon as you declare them.

Tax authorities will collect declarations and may use them against you in case of income verification or investigation. Basically you are leaving a trail that you own large amounts of money and that you are moving that money in cash (untraceable) from country A to B.

Tax authorities can already monitor traceable payment methods, and they do use big data computing to find anomalies and investigate potential tax evaders.

Conclusion: it is perfectly legal and allowed to bring cash abroad, but you must declare it.

Source: I work in a financial RegTech company and I am familiar with these kind of operations (e.g. compare income, property and expenditures after data submitted by financial operators)

I haven't answered for the part about airlines. You may want to check directly with them with their travel conditions. I would suggest to (passively) read their ToS than calling them. We are still speaking about a lot of money.

Anyway it's the security attendants who will see all that cash in the xray machine for the first time. Airlines don't check luggage themselves.

  • “Tax authorities... do use big data computing to find anomalies...” - do you have evidence for this? It sounds a rather modern activity for a government to be using, especially given how old the banking systems often are.
    – Tim
    Oct 1, 2020 at 22:51
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    @Tim there's a reason why some governments are pushing for things like large deposit declarations and automated exchange of banking information between countries, especially from tax heavens or similar jurisdictions. Government can be very innovative when there's money to be collected. ey.com/en_gl/tax/… opentext.com/file_source/OpenText/en_US/PDF/…
    – xngtng
    Oct 1, 2020 at 23:54
  • @Tim even if governments aren't, the banks certainly are, as part of their own internal fraud detection and due diligence. My source on that is a former PhD student who got hired by one of the companies the work gets outsourced to.
    – origimbo
    Oct 2, 2020 at 10:55
  • @origimbo partially correct. Banks enforce AML because they are required by the law, not because they like to fight laundering as a sport (unless they care about their reputation more than money). @Tim Examples or European inter-agency exchanges are FATCA/CRS (where CRS is a derivation of US FATCA), DACx (most recent version is DAC6), VIES and some invasive "expenditure-o-metre" to the IRS (Italian Revenue Service) with regards to every individual's e-invoices (from gym to utilities). But that's more of a "personal finance" topic Oct 2, 2020 at 11:06
  • 4
    In the US, there have been many instances of large amounts of cash being taken from people using "civil foreiture" as the reasoning.
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 2, 2020 at 14:04

Since you seem to be travelling entirely within the EU you will need to check with the customs offices of the countries you leave, pass through and enter what the arrangements are, since this hasn't been fully harmonised. As you state in the question, it's likely (but not absolutely guaranteed) that you'll need to fill in a national declaration form, but unlikely for there to be any fee involved.

Unless it involves discrimination law, airlines are usually able to make up their own conditions of carriage, so in theory one could ban the carrying of high value monetary instruments, however I'm not aware of any which go beyond "don't do anything illegal, don't put money in your checked baggage and it's at your own risk as much as we can legally say that".

  • I don't see how an airline would know. Oct 1, 2020 at 19:46
  • 1
    @Harper-ReinstateMonica Random or pseudo-random security spot checks at the gate aren't totally unknown. Not to mention being seen by flight attendants, etc.
    – origimbo
    Oct 1, 2020 at 21:04

Can I take on-board large sum of cash (more than 10k euros) in my hand luggage?

This may depend on the specific countries involved, bu in general the answer is yes. It is legal to carry as much cash as you want. That DOES NOT MEAN that you are allowed to bring the cash into the country. See the next point:

I know I need to declare this cash at customs but do I need to pay any fee for that?

Typically there is no fee. HOWEVER, you will get questioned and whether you are allowed to bring the cash in and/or enter the country yourself will depend on the quality & credibility of your story and is up the indivudal customs inspector. You better have a good story and some documentation to back it up.

Can the airline have any regulations that would prohibit flying with large sum of cash?

They can, but the typically don't. If in doubt, check with the specific airline.


The point is that you might be allowed to carry the cash. Or not. The salient word here is "might".

The border police is required to ask you both where the money comes from and what you are planning to use it for. As we all know, using cash is a way to sever the trail of money and is often used as part of money laundering. And this means that the border police will be, rightly, very suspicous.

Especially the last few years, as SEPA payments are by "European law" required to work both fast and at low cost within EU+, what would the reason be to carry cash.

Purely, as an example, assume that you are planning to buy a car for 20.000 Euro and the seller requires cash. Your part of the transaction might be fully legal, say saved money. But what happens at the other end? Will the seller rightfully declare the money and pay the necessary taxes? Did the seller acquire the car legally? Will the seller use the cash for illegal purposes?

So, the border police might give you the choice of either board the plane or stay and explain the money. You will of course get a receipt and will be able to get the cash back. But are you willing to take the chance?

  • 2
    Do note that paying 20.000 euro in cash (no matter what you bought) may not be legal in the final country.
    – Ángel
    Oct 2, 2020 at 23:06
  • @Ángel Indeed. And what I missed in the answer is that there are two border police forces ( making things simple here, there is both police and toll ) that a traveler would have to convince. One in each country.
    – ghellquist
    Oct 3, 2020 at 8:02
  • What the seller does with the money is not OP's business. But to stay in your example: OP needs a proper invoice for the car (for warranty, registration, possibly selling the car again later, ...) and that means that it will have to enter the seller's books like any other [small] cash payment. Also, e.g. in Germany, while it is legal to buy a car for 20 k€ in cash the seller would have to do anti money laundering paperwork of an extent that most car selling businesses won't accept such large cash payments. Oct 3, 2020 at 21:39

As opposed to checked baggage? On your person is better, certainly never in checked baggage. The airlines prefer this too.

10,000 Euro is not a lot of money, neither is 20,000. Perhaps we are just poorer than we think we are. It can be hard to find an ATM in many countries. Is Paris still using GPRS for taxi payments? How a city with such a low skyline gets such poor coverage I will never understand, maybe a lack of towers... Better to have a bit of excess than be caught short. You need to share the joy.

A million may be a problem. Do your homework, but again, not in the checked baggage, never. Do not split it across your companions either, that does not go down well.

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