Out of Pocket
An unexpected expense of international travel: having CBP seize your cash
by Peter Quinter, guest columnist
Below is a picture of a United States Treasury check. Not just any check, but a check payable to a client whose money was seized by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials of the US Department of Homeland Security.
The seizure occurred as the client, an international passenger, arrived in the US at a border crossing in California, and was stopped and questioned by Homeland Security officers regarding the source of his money. Because he lacked an adequate explanation, CBP officers took the business traveler’s cash.
The client originally hired another attorney at a different law firm without success. Only then did he seek a customs law expert both knowledgeable and experienced in seizures by CBP. After I went through the petition process of the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeiture Office of CBP, including a face-to-face meeting between my client, me and the CBP team (an FP&F Officer, an assigned Paralegal Specialist in the FP&F Office, and the local CBP legal counsel), the money was returned in full.
Having filed over 1,000 Petitions with CBP all over the US, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to get seized merchandise returned to my clients.
Here are five rules for international passengers carrying over $10,000 in cash:
1. Properly complete and submit to CBP officers the “Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments Form” (Fincen 105).
2. Have an adequate explanation for the source and intended use of the money if questioned by Homeland Security officers.
3. Do not sign any affidavits or declarations allegedly “required” by the Homeland Security officers.
4. Do not wait for CBP to send you a formal, written Seizure Notice before taking action.
5. As soon as your money or other property has been seized, immediately contact a customs lawyer who is an expert in handling Homeland Security matters, especially seizures by CBP.
Please call or email me with any questions or comments at [email protected] or (954) 270-1864.
Copyright © 2012 GrayRobinson
Datamyne Blog contributor Peter Quinter is a Shareholder in GrayRobinson’s Miami and Ft. Lauderdale offices and Chair of the Customs & International Trade Law Group. Mr. Quinter principally represents persons and companies involved in international trade and transportation. He is editor of the GrayRobinson Customs and International Law Blog.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views or Descartes Datamyne. In addition, this article is for general information purposes only and it’s not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind and my not be used for professional or commercial purposes. No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely on this article without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.
Date posted: November 28, 2012