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Is there a limit to the money I can carry with me (in my suitcase) at the San Francisco, California, United States of America airport?

If so, which is that limit? I will depart from SF.

  • Are you going to San Francisco, or flying from ? – blackbird Aug 2 '16 at 16:46
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    Are you asking if there is a limit on cash you can take into or out of the United States, or a limit on cash that you can physically bring onto the grounds of San Francisco International Airport? The U.S. imposes no limits whatsoever on how much cash you can carry, but you must declare your cash to customs when entering the country if it exceeds $10,000 or its equivalent foreign value. – choster Aug 2 '16 at 16:48
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    Possible duplicate of Cash limit counting in traveling to US – Karlson Aug 2 '16 at 17:36
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    @Karlson Clearly not a duplicate of that question. That question is asking about circumstances under which two related people get to have separate allowances; this is asking about one person. – David Richerby Aug 3 '16 at 0:18
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    @Karlson No, it's neither. That's a question about whether the recipient of large sums of cash needs to declare it in the US. "Duplicate" means "the same question", not "another question about a related subject." – David Richerby Aug 3 '16 at 7:55
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There is no limit to the amount of cash you can carry in the United States. However, some caveats apply.

First, if you (where you is either a single person or a group of people traveling together) are carrying more than $10,000 USD in currency (including foreign currency) or negotiable monetary instruments in or out of the United States, you must declare it. Remember that this rule applies both entering and leaving the United States; even though you probably will not see a US Customs officer when leaving, the declaration is required and you must go to the Customs office. There are harsh penalties for failure to declare currency, so it's important to follow the procedures.

Second, civil asset forfeiture is, while not incredibly common, something that can happen. If the police believe that your cash, even if less than $10,000, could be associated with crime, often with little to no evidence, they can seize it and you'd have to go to court to try to get it back. Since most legal business doesn't involve carrying that much cash around, traveling with significant amounts of money could arouse suspicion. While there are a number of ongoing efforts to reform these laws and police procedures, it is a risk, and not carrying large amounts of cash is a way to address that risk. If you must travel with a significant amount of cash, the authorities may want to know where it comes from, so carrying documentation that demonstrates its lawful origin may be helpful.

Lastly, there's the risk of theft or loss. Americans don't typically carry large amounts of cash; we often use bank transfers, electronic payments, and even plain old fashioned paper checks. If possible, I'd recommend leaving the money in the bank and transferring it as needed.

Also remember that the country you are bringing the money to may have restrictions or declaration requirements, and that any country you are transiting through may also impose requirements. You'll need to comply with any relevant laws in the US, transit countries, and your destination.

  • I was thinking to take the money with me because when I will be back to my country, I will have to withdraw them and undergo the taxes of the bank here in USA. I had to withdraw money from my country from here and I payed many extra costs, so I am trying to think of a way of avoiding that! But yes, I don't use cash either! – gsamaras Aug 2 '16 at 17:18
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    US Banks do not charge significant fees for a withdrawal. Sometimes there is an account-closing fee, maybe $25. Withdrawal by check is $1 or $2 more. I strongly dis-recommend carrying cash of tens of thousands of dollars, for security reasons. – Andrew Lazarus Aug 2 '16 at 18:47
  • @AndrewLazarus you should have tagged me, I hadn't see your valuable comment! Yes there is a closing fee. However, what are you saying is that while I am going to be in my country, I will go to the bank and do what exactly instead of going to the ATM or the cashier to get the money in cash? – gsamaras Aug 2 '16 at 20:03
  • @gsamaras My first recommendation would be that you take in cash a reasonable amount for travel expenses (that might be on the order of $500) and have the bank wire the remainder of the money to your bank account in Home Country. (If Home Country == Iran, I don't think this works.) For this, you would have a closing fee and also a wire fee of $25-30. If we are talking in the $10,000+ range, $50 to avoid theft and loss issues is worth it. Depending on the type of account, you could also leave a token $100 here in the USA. (continued) – Andrew Lazarus Aug 2 '16 at 21:42
  • @AndrewLazarus my country is Greece and the bank here is one of the biggest around.. – gsamaras Aug 2 '16 at 21:43

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