I’m travelling to Cambodia and have to bring $2000 USD in cash to pay for the quarantine facility. Immigration are adamant that I have to bring brand new crisp US currency (no tears, marks, creases etc). This has been corroborated by embassy officials and numerous experiences of people on visa forums (and my friends who have been through the process). Yes it says I can pay by card, but numerous people report the card machine being faulty… and then being turned away because they hadn’t had a cash alternative. Anyway I’m not taking any chances.

I’ve asked many money changers here in London and they can’t guarantee that they can do that for me. Where can I obtain these new notes - any leads appreciated

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    – user4188
    Sep 7, 2021 at 10:01
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    The official page repeatedly states the requirement for the 2000 USD deposit, but I don't see any reference to "brand new crisp US currency (no tears, marks, creases etc)". They also state that the deposit can be make using a credit card: "Then they must make a deposit (by cash or credit card) of 2,000USD (two thousand US dollars) with a designated commercial bank at point of entry". What's the source for that requirement?
    – jcaron
    Sep 7, 2021 at 10:53
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    @jcaron Likely the bank he is intending to deposit the money with. I mean, it is very common in Asia and Africa that banks and money changers only want pristine dollar bills, mainly because of how easy they are to forge and how difficult it is to detect good counterfeits. I don't understand why that rings any warning bells for you. Sep 7, 2021 at 11:06
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    @jcaron It might be too much for you, but that is a common custom in many countries, dating back to older bill series. Even if newer series, at least the higher denominations, have some up-to-date security features, US dollar bills are still relatively easy to counterfeit and they are at a very high rate. To quote this page: "Cambodia likes its US Dollars crisp and clean, and they’ll even reject your payments if they don’t like the looks of your bills." - peopleplacesandthoughts.com/home/2019/8/13/… Sep 7, 2021 at 13:03
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    @jcaron yeah they do accept card but it is according to the whims of whether the machine works on that particular day. Unfortunately it’s very much not a scam, corroborated by Cambodian embassy officials and my friends and family who have gone through the process also had to do the same. On visa forums many people have attested to being turned back to their last port because they couldn’t come up with quality notes. I think it has to do with the money counting facilities they have at their airport. The same goes for Turkmenistan, for eg, as stated in official gov.uk guidance Sep 7, 2021 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


In my experience, banks will sell foreign currency, especially when arranged in advance. If you have an account with a major bank in London, contact them to ask about buying US dollars, and ask if they can get new bills for you.

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    And how sure are you to get new crisp notes? I think that is unlikely, they will just hand out what they have.
    – Willeke
    Dec 14, 2023 at 14:35
  • As I wrote, one can ask the bank about obtaining new bills. Especially in a major banking center such as London, many banks have U.S. affiliates as well as buy and sell foreign currency themselves. Banks in the U.S., and some overseas banks, buy currency from the U.S. Treasury. Within the U.S., banks obtain newly-minted bills and introduce them into circulation. Overseas banks, especially in a major banking center, may do the same and/or have their U.S. partner do it.
    – jetset
    Dec 15, 2023 at 15:16
  • In answers to other questions on this site, and comments, I have read that most banks do not give out new crisp notes even when you ask for those. In many cases they are not even giving out the value of the notes you request, giving a mix of $20, $50 and $100 rather than only the one you asked for.
    – Willeke
    Dec 16, 2023 at 6:35
  • jetset nit: actually, currency distribution in US is handled by the Federal Reserve Bank System which is legally separate from the Treasury Department. Notes are printed by the BEP (in Treasury), and backed by the government but actually issued by FRB. In contrast coins are struck and issued by the Mint (also in Treasury) and sold at face value to FRB for distribution. But none of that affects dealing with retail customers by banks. Dec 16, 2023 at 15:04
  • @Willeke, that may be the case for casual retail bank transactions, such as withdrawing $100 from one's account. But the topic here is purchasing U.S. currency while overseas.
    – jetset
    Dec 17, 2023 at 13:29

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