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Last Updated on: 28th October 2023, 08:26 pm
Washington Dulles International Airport Money and Cash Seizure Lawyers
Traveling through Washington Dulles International Airport with more than $10,000 in cash or monetary instruments? You better report it to customs officials, or you could lose it all. That’s right – the government can legally seize any undeclared money you’re carrying, even if it was obtained 100% legally. Pretty crazy right? But it’s the law under the Bank Secrecy Act, which aims to combat money laundering and criminal activity. Still, even innocent travelers often run afoul of these little-known currency reporting rules. And getting your hard-earned cash back once it’s seized is no easy feat.
That’s why if you’re an international traveler carrying a large amount of cash, you NEED to understand your rights and responsibilities under U.S. currency reporting laws. And if your money does get seized, you’ll want to contact an experienced Washington Dulles currency seizure attorney right away. Keep reading this comprehensive guide to learn everything you need to know about currency reporting at Dulles Airport, including how to avoid cash seizures, get seized money returned, and fight back against unlawful confiscations.
Currency Reporting Laws at Washington Dulles Airport – The Bank Secrecy Act
Let’s start with the basics – what does the law actually say about bringing cash into or out of the U.S.? Well the main law is called the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), passed in 1970 to combat money laundering and other financial crimes. The BSA requires international travelers to REPORT all cash or monetary instruments over $10,000 when entering or leaving the country. Monetary instruments include things like cashier’s checks, money orders, stocks, etc. – basically anything that can substitute for cash.
To comply with the BSA, you must fill out a Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCEN 105). You’ll find these reporting forms at customs when you arrive in or depart from the U.S. It’s crucial you fill out the form accurately, reporting the total amount of cash/monetary instruments you’re carrying, even if split up among various bags or people in your travel group.
Here’s the catch – if you fail to properly complete the form, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can seize ALL your undeclared cash on the spot! This is true even if the money comes from 100% legal sources. And getting seized cash returned is an uphill battle, as we’ll discuss shortly.
No Limit on Amount of Cash You Can Bring
Importantly, U.S. law does NOT prohibit bringing any amount of cash into or out of the country. You can carry $1 million in cash if you want! The BSA only requires it to be reported. As CBP states: “There is no limit to how much money you may take out of or bring into the United States. However, if you carry more than $10,000, you will need to report it.”
Penalties for Not Reporting Can Be Severe
Now what happens if you don’t properly report your cash to CBP? Well unfortunately, the consequences can be severe:
- Your undeclared cash will likely be seized on the spot by CBP
- You may miss your flight or have travel plans interrupted
- You can face criminal charges for “bulk cash smuggling” in some cases
- It will be a long uphill battle to get the seized cash returned
CBP takes unreported currency very seriously. In 2022, CBP seized around $65 million in undeclared cash from travelers! And the numbers keep rising every year. Clearly, you don’t want to take any chances of having your money confiscated.
When Leaving U.S., Report Before Departure
One important tip – if you’re leaving the U.S. with over $10K in cash, you can actually file the FinCEN 105 form BEFORE your departure date. In fact, CBP recommends doing this whenever possible. That way there are no surprises or hold ups when you go through customs pre-departure. You can fill out and submit the form online here: CBP Currency Reporting Website.
Cash Seizures at Washington Dulles – It’s Happening Every Day
You might think unreported currency cases are rare. But the truth is, cash seizures happen on a daily basis at Dulles Airport. In August 2022 for example, CBP officers seized $95,000 in unreported cash from travelers in just one bust. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – Dulles CBP seizes millions in undeclared currency every single year.
Often times, the money is seized from travelers headed to Africa or Asia, where cash-based economies are more common. But really anyone leaving or entering the U.S. is at risk, especially if carrying envelopes, bags or boxes that could conceal cash.
CBP even uses specially trained currency sniffing K-9 dogs at Dulles, who can detect large amounts of unreported money. So simply stashing cash in your luggage won’t help if a dog flags it for inspection.
CBP Looks for These Red Flags
What exactly triggers cash seizures by Dulles CBP officers? Here are some common red flags they look for:
- Bags, boxes or luggage that could conceal currency
- Acting nervous or avoiding eye contact
- Providing inconsistent or illogical travel history
- Traveling to or from countries with cash-based economies
- Alert from a currency sniffing canine
But often times, no red flags are even needed. Dulles CBP simply inspects travelers’ bags and finds unreported cash. So you should never attempt to hide money or avoid reporting it, even if totally legitimately obtained.
Getting Seized Cash Back – Challenging CBP Seizures
Now what if CBP does seize your cash at Dulles despite your best efforts? Is there any way to get the money returned? Well yes, but it’s an uphill battle unless you obtain experienced legal help right away.
Here is the process to try recovering seized cash from CBP:
- File a Seized Asset Claim Form within 30 days explaining the lawful source/intended use of funds.
- CBP reviews your claim and evidence; may return cash if compelling proof it’s legitimate.
- If claim denied, file court challenge against seizure within deadline.
- Prove in court the seizure violated due process or was otherwise unlawful.
- If successful, CBP will be ordered to return your cash.
As you can see, the system is stacked against travelers whose money is seized. CBP sets a high bar for returning cash, and they have the upper hand in negotiations. An experienced attorney levels the playing field.
Proving Lawful Source and Use of Funds
The key when challenging a cash seizure is providing concrete evidence of the money’s lawful source and intended legal use. For example:
- Business receipts proving legitimate income or transactions
- Bank records tracing cash withdrawals or transfers
- Real estate documents for property sales/closings
- Records showing medical or family needs for the cash overseas
- Affidavits from credible witnesses familiar with the funds
Without proper evidence, CBP will likely refuse to return seized cash. But an experienced attorney knows exactly what documents and proof CBP looks for.
Fighting Unlawful Cash Seizures
In some cases, CBP’s seizure of unreported cash violates due process or is otherwise unlawful. Experienced lawyers can file a federal court claim against CBP challenging the legitimacy of the seizure in these situations. Grounds can include:
- Traveler was given inadequate notice of reporting requirements
- CBP denied opportunity to properly report cash before seizure
- Reporting violation was merely technical or harmless error
- Seizure was disproportionate to offense
- Money is unrelated to any illegal activity
With skilled legal advocacy, many unlawful cash seizures can be overturned in court, forcing CBP to return the seized funds. But you need to act quickly – there are strict deadlines for challenging seizures.
Avoiding Cash Seizures at Washington Dulles Airport
Now that you know getting seized cash back is difficult, here are some tips to avoid currency reporting issues and cash seizures in the first place:
- Know the reporting limits – You must report cash/monetary instruments over $10,000
- Report BEFORE departing U.S. – File FinCEN 105 form online prior to departure day
- Report at customs – Honestly disclose on forms how much cash you’re carrying
- Report aggregate amounts – Include cash split up among multiple people/bags
- Never lie or conceal cash – CBP can seize unreported money
- Save receipts – Proving legitimate source of funds helps get cash back if seized
The bottom line is – if you comply FULLY with currency reporting rules, you should avoid having any issues with cash seizures by Dulles CBP. But if they do seize your money despite best efforts, contact a lawyer immediately for help getting it back.
Washington Dulles Currency Seizure Lawyers – Let Us Fight for Your Money
Have your rights been violated by an unlawful currency seizure at Dulles Airport? Don’t let CBP get away with taking your hard-earned cash without a fight. The experienced Washington Dulles currency seizure attorneys at Smith, Jones & White Law Firm are here to help travelers like you recover seized funds and challenge improper confiscations.
We have extensive experience representing clients in currency seizure and forfeiture cases against CBP and other federal agencies. We know exactly how to build a strong claim proving your cash is 100% legitimate and that any seizure was unlawful. With aggressive and strategic legal advocacy, we can put maximum pressure on CBP to return your wrongfully confiscated money.
Don’t go it alone against the government – their army of lawyers will eat you alive. You NEED a seasoned legal fighter in your corner.