I will be leaving for USA in a little while, and I plan to carry around USD 12,500. I will be visiting my son there, and I will hand over that cash to him then.

As I understand, if the amount is more than USD 10,000 you must declare it, using this form.

However, it states

Each person who receives currency or other monetary instruments in the United States shall file FinCEN Form 105, within 15 days after receipt of the currency or monetary instruments, with the Customs officer in charge at any port of entry or departure or by mail with the Commissioner of Customs, Attention: Currency Transportation Reports, Washington DC 20229.

After I have handed the money over to my son, will my son need to declare it? Also, what other documentation would I be needing if the cash exceeds USD 10,000?

I have already searched through this link, and haven't found what I am looking for.

  • 2
    If you get any further questions, it will be very useful if you have documentation that indicates the source of the cash and can demonstrate that it comes from legal activities. Apr 8, 2016 at 23:42
  • 3
    I've needed to transfer rather larger sums of money into the USA, and used electronic funds transfer. Have you considered doing that? Apr 9, 2016 at 0:52
  • 1
    @PatriciaShanahan yes, i tried doing, thrice, and my wire was rejected thrice. Since I am going anyways, i thought i should ask if taking the bany by hand would be legal :)
    – debuggerpk
    Apr 9, 2016 at 9:58
  • 1
    Why dont you just issue a check, if you are wire transfers are not going through. You can also carry the check rather than cash!
    – pbu
    Apr 9, 2016 at 12:58
  • 1
    @pbu Checks need to be declared too so that doesn't really change anything.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 24, 2016 at 22:37

9 Answers 9


The form instructions state that the declaration only needs to be made once. You don't need to do it twice.

An additional report of a particular transportation, mailing, or shipping of currency or the monetary instruments is not required if a complete and truthful report has already been filed.

Your son does not need to file a report anyway, since he is not the person importing the currency or causing it to be imported. You are importing the currency, so you will file the declaration.

  • 1
    "Your son does not need to file a report anyway, since he is not the person importing the currency or causing it to be imported": paragraph b under "who must file" says recipients must file, and makes no mention of whether they've caused the currency to be imported. The only basis for not filing as far as I can see is the passage you have quoted. If the son were to receive the money without knowing whether the father had filed, he would need to file.
    – phoog
    Apr 8, 2016 at 23:46
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    @phoog He may be receiving currency, but he is not importing it. That is the important part. Nothing here is relevant to someone who isn't importing or exporting currency or instruments. If he had had it shipped to him by FedEx or something, then he would be the importer and the recipient in this context. Apr 9, 2016 at 0:00
  • I don't think this is correct. See my answer
    – Hilmar
    Apr 9, 2016 at 18:38
  • @Hilmar You haven't posted an answer! Apr 9, 2016 at 18:42
  • @MichaelHampton you can't ship currency or currency instruments using FedEx Apr 10, 2016 at 6:53

Travelling in the United States with such a huge amount of cash is extremely dangerous because civil forfeiture. Your money can be taken at the airport, by the security at the airport a routine traffic stop and practically anywhere else. Once the cops seize the cash they will not charge you (often they won't have anything to charge you with) but the money itself and you will have a lot of difficulties getting it back.

  • 3
    Carrying cash is inherently risky. Is there any evidence that the risk of legal seizure is significantly higher than other inherent risks (loss, accidental destruction, theft)? If not, it seems excessive to call out this specific risk among others. (And after all, at least in principle, money seized in this way can be recovered by legal means, unlike cash accidentally destroyed or stolen). Apr 9, 2016 at 2:38
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    I'd say most people are acutely aware of such problems and will prepare accordingly -- money belt etc but this is a much more obscure (especially for someone not living in the US) danger.
    – user4188
    Apr 9, 2016 at 2:42
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    I would be curious to see statistics on this "extremely dangerous" action. How many travelers (what percentage) have been effected by this? Isolated incidents do not equate to a risk factor, rather they only contribute to paranoia.
    – user13044
    Apr 9, 2016 at 4:28
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    Being careful to have less that $20 on you when going through a US airport is an act of paranoia. All three stories you link to involve people carrying unusually large amounts of cash, which is what sparked suspicion. That's highly relevant to this question but there is zero reason for anybody to worry about carrying a couple-few hundred dollars in cash through an American airport. Apr 9, 2016 at 6:09
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    Carrying less than $20 USD when going through a USA airport is the most risky behavior. You never know when an airline will lose your luggages, or delay you by a day or two, or charge you $10 USD for a small bag of peanuts (that used to be given out for free). And yes, credit cards will work in most cases, but cash still reigns supreme when the infrastructure is down because of a blizzard, or if your credit card got temporarily deactivated because your bank thinks you were acting suspicious by traveling to a different country. Apr 9, 2016 at 19:32

If you send the money by a bank wire to your son, then the banks will file the proper notification paperwork at both ends.

If you carry it into the country in cash, then you need to declare that fact and fill out FinCEN Form 105 for your trip, as you have noted. But you are not "importing" it rather you are "carrying" it in. - https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/195/kw/more%20than%20$10000%20cash/

The "receiving person" details mentioned in your post would apply if you sent the money by courier or other means where the responsible party is not physically moving the money. It also applies to bank wires, but the banks usually handle the declaration paperwork for their customers automatically.

There maybe restrictions or declarations in your country of origin to consider as well.

If your son deposits it into his US bank account, then the bank will have to declare that deposit as it is over $10K. But that again is paperwork the bank will handle automatically, with perhaps a few questions for your son.

  • Large gifts are taxable to the donor (!), not the recipient. irs.gov/uac/Eight-Tips-to-Determine-if-Your-Gift-is-Taxable Apr 9, 2016 at 5:41
  • 1
    Answer edited. But ultimately, we don't know what the money is for (gift, loan, living expenses, etc) or what its source is (wages for remote work, dad's bank account, etc).
    – user13044
    Apr 9, 2016 at 6:00

I would be very careful in the United States with cash, due to Asset Forfeiture.

It's hard to say how high the risk or frequency, but there seem to be many incidents of this occurring. Of the cases I have followed where there is no justifiable cause, most have been unable to get any of their money back even after long legal processes. In some cases the asset owner has been able to negotiate return of a small percentage.

The frequency seems to be higher with local law enforcement, but also exists with state and federal. These cases are kept quiet and charges are rarely levied.


If this is useful, I've entered the USA twice with way more than $10,000 in traveler checks (but not in cash). The procedure is the following: you mark it on the Custom declaration, go to Customs, they check your declaration and send you to the secondary desk. There you are given a simple form, fill it up and give it to them. After that you're done. They didn't ask to see the traveler checks or count them, and generally looked completely uninterested and unexcited about the whole process.

No unusual questions were asked by the Customs, but my bank (where I deposited it), asked whether I declared it to the Customs. I said "yes" and they didn't have any further questions.


WHO MUST FILE: (1) Each person who physically transports, mails, or ships, or causes to be physically transported, mailed, or shipped currency or other monetary instruments in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time from the United States to any place outside the United States or into the United States from any place outside the United States, and

(2) Each person who receives in the United States currency or other monetary instruments In an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 at one time which have been transported, mailed, or shipped to the person from any place outside the United States.

It looks like you both must file since the last word in the first paragraph is "and". While it is perfectly legal and can attract a lot of undesirable attention from the authorities such as the IRS or the department of homeland security. We did this once as a young white couple with three small children in tow and still got subjected to intense questioning.

First: I would NOT use cash because of risk of loss and high currency exchange fee. If you need a cash-like instrument, use travelers checks. These can be replaced if stolen and typically just have a 1% flat fee. They still are subject to declaration.

Electronic transfers are safer, cheaper, and easier on the paperwork. I use http://www.xe.com/xetrade/ to send money to kids abroad. Many banks these days have direct partnerships with other banks in different countries for mutual use of ATMs and low overhead transfer. For example Bank of America works with Deutsche Bank in Germany, Santander in Mexico, China Construction Bank, Westpac in Australia/NZ etc. I recommend talking to your local bank or finding a Bank in your country with ties to the US.

  • 1
    I agree with you regarding who must file - the instructions clearly indicate both the person physically transporting it and the recipient must file. The question, I believe, is whether two reports have to be filed based on the subsequent statement about an "additional report" being unnecessary if one was already filed for a "particular transportation" - does the filing for transport across the border suffice to cover the recipient receiving it too? Or are those two separate incidents under the regulations?
    – tubedogg
    Apr 13, 2016 at 3:53

I am writing this because of "J Bergen"s poor answer. Bergen gives some bad advice.

  1. You can bring as much currency into the country as you want, as long as you declare it. Otherwise, there will be penalties
  2. NEVER STRUCTURE YOUR MONEY: i.e. bring in amounts under $10,000 multiple times. That's as bad as not declaring, and could see your visa revoked.
  3. Western Union is not good
  4. If you are unsure if the total amount of money (in any currency) you have anywhere (in your bags, pockets, shoe, etc) is equivalent to US$10,000 or more, DECLARE

The USA is a country with an effective, reliable banking system that does a good job serving consumers with virtually no graft or theft. As such, the only people who handle large quantities of cash are:

  • fools
  • criminals

This may differ dramatically from your country. The US government is primarily concerned with the second, and cares less about the property rights of the first. "A fool and his money..."

So it may be standard practice in your country to deal in cash, but in America it will get a frosty reception because of these prejudices. With an underlying assumption that more likely than not, it is in America's best interests to separate you from your money. There will be a mechanism by which you can appeal for its return, but this could cost a big chunk of $12,500 in lawyer costs.

The way America expects you to do this is via the trusted, western banking system. For instance have your friend generate an invoice on PayPal for the goods or services, and pay them via PayPal. If for some reason you can't do conventional electronic transfers, you need to fix why that is.

Bringing in cash because electronic transfers don't work is just the kind of thing they're on guard for. Customs will know the reasons your wire transfers were disallowed, and will be wary of cash moving on the same route. Effectively you're circumventing the normal way of doing this.

That isn't structuring, but they have a lot in common.

The upshot is that bringing large blocks of cash is a fool's game, and you should expect problems.


Don't do it! Also check how much the Country you are going to allows you to come in with! It is a scam in many places. America allows you $10,000 do not be a penney over that amount even in change or they will steal it from you! Or tie you up so you miss your flight. Some Countries do to exchange rate allow a little less than that. So on arrival they will steal it from you! As you are over there amount to bring in. 3rd world Countries are good for this scam! Set up a Western Union acount & wire yourself the money to were ever. If they have Western Union there. Then bring in $6,000 at a time on 2 transfers.

  • 2
    You can bring as much money into the US as you want, you just have to declare it. If you don't declare it, you get penalized, with a penalty of from $250 to complete forfeiture, depending on whether you have documentation for the money or not. If you declare it, they have you sign a form, and you're good Feb 27, 2018 at 22:12

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