Visiting the US for 2 weeks (15 days). During the immigration interview I'll be asked how much money I am bringing, for example £1000 is roughly $1300 ($1264) Do I have to say the exact figure dollars and cents or will saying $1300 be fine? My apologies, I should've mentioned I'm not bringing any cash. It'll be on a pre paid card or bank card ect...

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    The only thing they're really asking is whether you're bringing $10,000 or over, since this must be declared. Feb 12 at 17:58
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    What is the actual concern? Either way, why not just say the exact amount? If you're concerned about exchange rates on the day just go with whatever rate you last had access to. Or care less ... Feb 12 at 19:54
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    I have never been asked this question at immigration. You have to declare in the customs form if you are bringing more than $10,000 but I don't think you need to give any number at all if it's less.
    – jkej
    Feb 12 at 20:25
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    You've also confused "immigration" and "customs". If you have an immigration interview, they will want to know how much money you have in the bank. If you have a customs declaration, they want to know how much cash you have with you.
    – david
    Feb 13 at 8:13
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    Note that cards are not cash. Don't confuse matters by saying your are bringing $1000+ in cash, when all your money is in some kind of electronic format! Having said this, I would bring about $50 in literal cash, just in case your bank decides to block your card on your first transaction and it takes you a couple of hours to unblock it. Feb 13 at 15:00

5 Answers 5


Just say you're bringing approximately 1300 USD, this way your statement is accurate.

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    now i want to see case law about the maximum distance one can be from the approximation
    – OganM
    Feb 12 at 20:59
  • @OganM: As explained in Jason Patterson's answer, they are not likely to care unless your statement is on one side of the 10000 USD limit and the actual amount is on the other side. Note that anyone bringing that much money into the US is already required to fill out a form anyway, so they will bust you for it whether or not you speak to an agent.
    – Kevin
    Feb 13 at 7:43
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    @OganM If you’re referring to the Customs declaration, since the threshold is US$10,000 in theory the maximum distance above that would be 99c. Official exchange rates are published here CPB daily foreign currency exchange. If you’re referring to Immigration, you can be precise (”I have $220 in cash plus a credit card(s)”), I would say rounding up or down to the nearest $10 should be ok if you have a relatively small amount of cash.
    – Traveller
    Feb 13 at 10:17
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    This is totally correct. Last time I entered USA, to the question of how much cash I was brining in, I answered "about USD $2000" - they were happy with that.
    – Aleks G
    Feb 13 at 14:02
  • Accuracy required is over/under. Under the no-declaration limit or over it.
    – Therac
    Feb 13 at 15:03

In my experience you don't have to provide exact figures. My usual answer is: "I have about xxx dollars (rounded to 100) and a credit card". No further questions were asked.


There are two possible reasons you can be asked about the money you bring in:

  • Because you have to declare cash above $10K
  • As one piece of evidence that you have funds to support yourself while in the country

Unless you actually have more than $10K, you don't need to be precise.

For the first reason as long as you are under $10K the exact amount doesn't matter.

For the second reason it's just a matter of showing that you're not destitute and can pay for your lodging, food, etc, and will not need to work (which you are not allowed to on visitor visas/VWP), or worse, resort to stealing or panhandling. Most people don't actually have any cash or very little, and will use payment cards. Depending on your appearance and country of origin, it's more than likely they will not even wonder about that, they start asking those questions when they already suspect you are not a genuine visitor. So again, the exact amount doesn't matter.

In any case, if you haven't yet exchanged it for USD, you don't know the exact amount. Exchange rates can vary quite a bit.

By the way, while having some cash (especially one dollar notes) is vital in the US (for the sacrosanct tips you need to shell out every other minute), most people don't bring that much cash and use cards (in some cases like most mid-to-high-range hotels you will even have a hard time checking in without a card). It's usually a lot safer and more practical. Just make sure before you leave that your card issuer is aware of your travel and that you checked the fees for foreign spend, withdrawals, and currency exchange from your card issuer: they can vary a lot from one to the other.

  • There is an official exchange rate converter here although not all currencies are included.
    – Traveller
    Feb 13 at 10:20
  • If someone deserved a tip and I gave them a dollar, they'd be offended. Restaurants, private travel, and food deliveries are the only places where tipping is really expected for normal people, and all of those are done electronically. I guess if you're staying in a fancy hotel or have people carrying your bags around at the airport and such... Feb 13 at 11:20
  • @JasonPatterson Even the people managing the taxi queues at hotels get tips (though it's probably less "expected" there than in other places).
    – jcaron
    Feb 13 at 12:54
  • @jcaron Again, that's a nice hotel in a major city (likely NY). While that is a very common tourist destination, it's not the norm for the US. Feb 15 at 13:31

Just an approximation, and get the values in US dollars (do not expect immigration officers know the exchange rate of all currencies).

As a side note: last time I entered in US I was more precise: I tell them "I have 3 dollars": it was a last minute travel: and usually I prefer to use ATM on destinations (and it was a short stay, on US government research office). The immigration officers was not so surprised or impressed, he just ask me if I had also credit cards, and it was all fine. But as usual: it depends a lot on the country where you come from.

I suspect the question is more about statistics, because we use a lot of cards (and in US it is necessary to do so). GDP data requires some estimates of currency which enter the country, and US dollar is used a lot also in other countries (as physical paper), so it just gives some estimates, which will be compared to economist estimates.

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    Asking incoming travellers how much money they bring has nothing to do with econometrics and statistics. It's purely about filtering out indesirable persons. Feb 12 at 9:24
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    @Johnnyjanko: how? Visa process already screen it (with real data). Custom filter smuggling money (money laundry). The amount of cash you have has little meaning over the means you have to spend in US. In fact it is difficult to spend cash in US. Feb 12 at 10:02
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    I sort of agree, but that doesn't mean it's for economics and statistics. Feb 12 at 12:27
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    Contrary to popular movements and ideas, @GiacomoCatenazzi, it's still not difficult at all to spend cash in the US. It's difficult to spend it online, to be fair, but there is still a significant amount of face-to-face transactions made and I'd be willing to bet that 99% of them can be made with cash. Even the legal ones.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 12 at 17:44
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi There are a (relatively few, but likely varies by location as well as type of business) types of businesses that don't want to have much cash on hand, though plenty of businesses have ways to handle that (e.g., cashier required to deposit into a safe that only the manager can open whenever they get over 'x'$ in the register). But commonly grocery stores, hardware stores (Home Depot, etc.), convenience stores (7-11, etc.) and many others have absolutely no problem with cash. I have seen a tendency for medical offices to prefer cash only if exact - and most people going in to Feb 12 at 17:51

When entering the US you need to declare cash or other monetary instruments exceeding a total of $10,000. You might be asked if you have over that amount, but it would not be typical to be asked how much money you have in general. As noted in comments, it is possible that you might be asked if you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay. In either case, if you were asked, I would politely say that you didn't bring any cash, and that you'll be using your bank card to support yourself.

Travelers bringing more than $10,000 into the US are required to declare their assets on a FinCEN Form 105 at customs. The instructions for this form define what is included in "monetary instruments." I've included that definition below, and it does not include a bank card any more than it includes blank checks that could draw on a foreign account valued at more than $10,000. This is because the primary purpose of this limit is to make money laundering and tax evasion more difficult. It focuses on monetary instruments whose value is transferred immediately upon handing them to another party.

(1) Coin or currency of the United States or of any other country, (2) traveler’s checks in any form, (3) negotiable instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders) in bearer form, endorsed without restriction, made out to a fictitious payee, or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery, (4) incomplete instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are signed but on which the name of the payee has been omitted, and (5) securities or stock in bearer form or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery. Monetary instruments do not include (i) checks or money orders made payable to the order of a named person which have not been endorsed or which bear restrictive endorsements, (ii) warehouse receipts, or (iii) bills of lading.

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    that is not the only reason they ask about money. It's common to ensure that people are really vacationing (rather than coming to work) by asking if they have spending money to last them through the trip. Feb 12 at 21:54
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    @KateGregory But in this case, that is EXACTLY the reason they are asking. It has nothing to do with whether they can afford the vacation. Customs doesn't care about that and the $10k limit is quite high for vacation spending money in any case. Note also that other countries have the same or similar questions. Going into Japan they have similar question and while the current exchange rate is rather high, with more normal exchange rates is approximately US$10k in yen. (The limit is yen, I'm just mentioning that the limit is a similar amount)
    – chadbag
    Feb 13 at 6:07
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    @chadbag the question about having enough money to support oneself could come up at border control rather than customs, for different reasons indeed. But most people will indeed present a payment card for that. I believe there have been extreme cases (not necessarily in the US) when officers asked for confirmation that there were enough funds/credit on the card, but when they get to that point you're already in trouble...
    – jcaron
    Feb 13 at 9:21
  • @KateGregory Fair enough, added a line about that in the opening paragraph. However, the primary purpose of the $10k limit remains money laundering/tax evasion. Feb 13 at 11:12
  • yeah, this answer --- the OP may be confusing the question of how much they are carrying in through customs versus how they are supporting themselves on a long stay. But the original question seems rather to be the former, and that is about physical money
    – Mike M
    Feb 13 at 12:11

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