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I’m a first time international traveler going for a holiday in Spain for 10 days and I’ll be carrying with me 5k euros in cash. I’m worried I’ll be held by customs or questioned. I don’t know either if I need to declare the amount at customs, not just the Spanish customs. I will transit in Turkey and am unaware of all the procedures involved in different countries.

I thought about sending myself the cash through Western Union, but Western Union’s agents informed me that the cash may be held by other agents abroad (e.g, because of local legal policies) and I may not necessarily be able to collect it upon arrival.

I do not want my money to be seized by customs for whatever reason and at the same time I don’t want to give my money to Western Union and then failing to collect it. My credit card charges a high percentage for international transactions.

How do I get through customs without any problems while carrying this amount?

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  • Have you checked the traveller's cards offered by your local banks? they are usually cheaper and have an annual fee that you pay once and do not have to pay a per-transaction fee. Feb 25 at 16:41
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    You can check customs regulations for your itinerary here iatatravelcentre.com/… Typically, only amounts exceeding EUR 10,000 or more or the equivalent in another currency (incl. banker's draft and cheques of any kind) must be declared.
    – Traveller
    Feb 25 at 16:50
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    you know that discomfort and worry you're feeling about carrying cash? The risk you're facing of losing your cash? the hassle of trying to change your own currency into the currency of the place you're visiting, and what if you change too little or too much? That fee your credit card charges you is precisely a fee to remove all that discomfort and worry for you. They are offering you something of value. Why not buy it? Feb 25 at 17:56
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    @KateGregory The only advantage of credit card would be not carrying cash. But 3% x amount for each withdrawal is quite expensive. As long as I don't end up with problems in customs I'm pretty much comfortable with carrying cash.
    – Tune333
    Feb 25 at 18:20
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    You can afford a 5000 euro (plus plane tickets and whatever else you spent in advance) vacation, but balk at up to 150 (3% of 5000) in cc fees, when using your cc for everything would dramatically reduce a number of worries including customs confiscation? OK, but that doesn't seem sensible to me. Feb 25 at 18:25

2 Answers 2

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5000 EUR is under the limit at which you need to declare (10k EUR in Spain, 10k USD or its equivalent in many non-EU countries). For a developed country like Spain there is nothing to worry about here beyond whatever concern you'd normally have walking around with a bunch of cash.

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    At least in the UK, there are other regulations in play. Police may seize cash over £1000 (sic) if there are reasonable grounds to "suspect that it has come from or is intended to be used to commit crime" (link), and on those Border Force TV shows, can often be seen doing so. You're absolutely right about the near-global declaration rules on sums on the order of EUR10k, but I thought it worth pointing out that there are other rules about cash movement that the OP might also fall foul of. If OP would tell us his/her full itinerary, we might be able to help more.
    – MadHatter
    Feb 26 at 7:39
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Your issue with customs has already been addressed so I would focus on the costs here. My credit card exchanges money at a rate specified by Visa or Mastercard and then adds 2.5%. In general that rate is some sort of central rate. If I exchange money for cash Euro today I would need to spend 4270 GBP to obtain 5000 EUR. If I exchanged the 5000 back straightaway I would receive 3676 GBP. Obviously you will not be changing it all back but I assume you are planning to have a contingency reserve and hope not to spend 5000. You can therefore see that although the bank charges seem high exchanging cash is not cost free either.

(Rates quoted above valid 26/02/2022 from the Post Office in the UK.)

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  • You're right, I intend to keep cash in case of an emergency arises or sudden change of plans. I'll just keep some in my debit card and the other amount in cash to diversify risks and costs.
    – Tune333
    Feb 26 at 21:50

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