I'm confused after reading this article: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/much-money-can-bring-united-states-100169.html

In the first paragraph, it states: "You may bring up to $10,000 in currency, coin and certain monetary instruments without reporting it to customs."

But later on, it states: "You must report all coins, including gold coins, and currency from the United States and other countries.", which would seem to indicate that you must report any cash amount, even below $10,000.

By reporting, I'm talking about the form you have to fill for customs.

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    Good thing there are always Bitcoins. Hahaha! Aug 24, 2016 at 19:22
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    My last time returning through immigration at SFO (july 2016, I am a US citizen) I was asked how much cash I had on me. The (true) answer of $80 US and $200 Singapore satisfied the agent...
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 24, 2016 at 19:44
  • @VerbalKint No need for a digital currency to cross borders with you, is the better approach to that situation. Aug 24, 2016 at 20:49
  • @VerbalKint are you referencing: "We found bitcoin in your bag and need to check" story?
    – ʰᵈˑ
    Aug 26, 2016 at 8:44
  • @VerbalKint Not prsently in China :-( Sep 29, 2021 at 9:35

3 Answers 3


It would plainly be ridiculous to require all travelers to declare the small change in their pockets, yet allow undeclared paper money up to $10,000.

What the second part tries to say is that all kinds of currency, whether coins or banknotes, and whether US issue or not, count towards the $10,000 threshold. (And if you do hit that threshold, then in principle you must declare all of what you've got, including pocket change).

  • What about Litecoin or Bitcoin? Does it matter if you keep them on your laptop vs. in the cloud?
    – user987234
    Aug 25, 2016 at 0:17
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    @user987234 IIUC Bitcoin/etc. is not considered 'money' by the IRS, but rather something of value - so it would be declared as a thing-of-value not cash. See for example cryptocoinsnews.com/… .
    – Joe
    Aug 25, 2016 at 0:48
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    @Calchas: I think Ant was implicitly arguing that a bitcoin wallet is more like a bank password than it is like currency (and therefore shouldn't be declared). Technically it is very hard to argue for any definite physical locations of bitcoins -- where they "are" is in the blockchain, which is a replicated database that has copies all over. What the individual user carries around is just a cryptographic key that enables him to spend the bitcoins of his that the blockchain cointains. Aug 25, 2016 at 20:32
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    Under the new rules (2012), prepaid access devices count as "monetary instruments". A bitcoin wallet might be such a thing. Perhaps a bitcoin wallet is more like a prepaid credit card -- money that can be spent by anyone who bears the instrument. The key difference is that someone else having my bank password doesn't given them any money, it just makes it easier for them to steal it. Having access to a bitcoin wallet gives you the bitcoins. Aug 26, 2016 at 4:13
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    @Joe it doesn't much matter that the IRS thinks about bitcoin; the relevant agency is customs and border protection.
    – phoog
    Aug 20, 2017 at 11:50

The form you have to fill out on landing asks

I am (we are) carrying currency or monetary instruments over $10,000 US or foreign equivalent

And you can choose Yes or No

It does not ask you to fill out that you have $73.87 with you. What the article is saying is that when you answer that question, you must include your foreign bills, foreign coins, solid gold collector coin worth $5000 each, and various cashlike things such as money orders. You can't later say "oh! I thought you just meant US cash!" or "oh! I didn't count these Krugerrands they aren't money really!"

Any regular watcher of Border Security will observe people who say "no" to that question, have tens of thousands of dollars with them, and say things like "well I have $9000 US (or Canadian) and the rest is Chinese money so it doesn't count." It counts.

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    I'm intrigued as to where the lines are drawn with gold objects. A Krugerrand has a face value in an existing currency, much less than its value as gold. A Roman Aureus has face value only in a long-extinct currency. Its value as a collectible above its value as gold scrap would be hard to ascertain without both assaying it and selling it in an auction. A gold blank, a ring, or a gold dental crown(!) has no face value in any currency. Could a rich man with expensively repaired teeth get into trouble?
    – nigel222
    Aug 24, 2016 at 17:33
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    the key, according to help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/322/~/…, is whether it is used as coin somewhere. The teeth and jewelry are not, nor are the Roman artifacts. I don't believe the Krugerrands are either. None the less you are supposed to tell the officer about gold coins.help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/332/kw/coins/session/… says that gold bullion isn't a currency, but should still be declared (I guess under "value of goods with you") Aug 24, 2016 at 17:42
  • @Kate: I think that officially, Krugerrands are legal currency in South Africa. They just aren't used as currency for the reason you say: their face value is much less than their metal value. I suspect many other mints issue coins with the same feature (the UK certainly does, although as collectables rather than as bullion). Perhaps not in the same volume or consistent form as made the Krugerrand internationally popular. Aug 25, 2016 at 9:23
  • ... The definition you link to does say that it has to be "customarily accepted" -- I certainly wouldn't want to try arguing with a customs official that Krugerrands are not "accepted" since they're never offered, despite the fact that if offered I expect they'd be very gratefully accepted. I don't know the detailed definition of "in circulation", though. Maybe you could somehow argue that since the mint doesn't sell them at their face value, they aren't "really" in circulation even if they are designated legal tender? You'd have to have your lawyer with you. Aug 25, 2016 at 9:26
  • in case of doubt, declare. There is no duty on gold coins, so arguing about acceptance is pointless. Declare. Aug 25, 2016 at 10:38

If you have various undeclared kinds of currency, (whether coins or banknotes, and whether US issue or not), that, when added together, superede the $10,000 threshold, you need to select


and declare it.

New rules passed in 2012, you need to submit fin105_cmir Form.

Prepaid access devices count as "monetary instruments" like bitcoin wallet, prepaid credit card (money that can be spent by anyone who bears the instrument) need to be declared.

More Info US Gov Declaring currency when entering the U.S. in-transit to a foreign destination

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