Updated for 2019
Many Canadians, at certain stages in life, contemplate living abroad. Maybe you are already doing so. Though it is getting easier and easier to access your money electronically from anywhere in the world, it is still important to know how much cash you can bring with you. This is especially true if you are planning on living in a country which doesn’t have the most up-to-date technology, or not enough ATMs. It’s also especially true if you fear the consequences of the ceaseless move from paper currency to electronic payments. Either way, you need to know how to bring cash on your travels. This article will tell you:
- What you have to declare
- How to Declare
- What happens if you don’t declare
- Why are these rules in place
But first, a general rule to follow. For most countries, you can bring in 10,000 per family per trip, either in the local currency or in USD, depending upon the country.
If you are exiting Canada with more than CAN$10,000 – or if you are returning home with the same amount – then you need to declare it. For the purposes of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), this money must be declared or if it is the form of “monetary instruments.” Monetary instruments include:
- travellers’ cheques;
- ‘bearer negotiable instruments’ (promissory notes, bills of exchange, treasury bills, bank notes, cheques);
- ‘bearer investment securities’ including
- bank notes, bonds, debentures;
- forwards, futures, stock options, swaps;
- bank drafts
- money orders
- and any similar ‘instruments’.
Electronic transfers of any kind of more than $10,000 are reported by your financial institution to the government of Canada in order to comply with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, so you only have to worry about reporting the above yourself.
Outside of Canada
Bringing cash and monetary instruments to or from the United States.
The United States has the equivalent rule as Canada: currency and monetary instruments being moved into or out of the country valued at more than USD$10,000 must be declared. Since the US and Canadian dollars are rarely the same, use the calculator below to figure out how much Canadian that is right now:
Mexico uses the same standard as the United States: if you are carrying or shipping anything above the equivalent of USD$10,000 you must declare it.
If you are travelling to Cuba for tourism or business purposes, you can bring in up to $2,000 Cuban Pesods, without having to declare it.
There are strict rules about bringing money out of Cuba: You cannot take Cuban Convertible Pesos out of Cuba at all, and you can only take out up to $2,000 Cuban Pesos. (However, banks outside of Cuba cannot sell Cuban Pesos so they will not exchange your money.)
The United Kingdom
You have to declare any cash you are bringing into the UK – on your person or shipping separately – in excess of €10,000. Please note that you cannot use your family members to increase your personal limit; the limit applies to individuals and to families.
In the UK, cash means:
- currency and coins;
- bankers’ drafts;
- cheques of all types.
The limit is the same across the EU, so the limit for France is the same as the UK: 10,000 euros. However, in France, the limit is tallied per-adult, so you could theoretically bring in more than 10,000 euros undeclared if you are travelling with another adult. (We do not recommend this.)
The Dominican Republic
You must declare the cash you are bringing into the Dominican Republic, but there is no limit on how much you can bring in. You may be forced to convert a minimum of USD$100 to Dominican Pesos upon arrival, though this rule is rarely enforced.
When you are leaving, you can only bring out the same or less than what you declared and brought in, provided it is under USD$10,000. You are not allowed to bring out more than USD$10,000.
You cannot import or import or export Dominican Pesos, however, so all money must be in another currency. If you have Dominican Pesos left over and you have failed to convert them prior to departure, you can get about 30% of the value back at the airport before departing.
Upon entering China you must declare any cash in excess of the equivalent of USD$5,000, or 20,000 Yuan, but you can bring in an unlimited amount.
You cannot normally bring out more than you brought in, without a permit. Further, if you are bringing out between USD$5,000 and $10,000 you will require a permit. If you are bringing out more than USD$10,000 you will require a special “warrant” from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. The warrant may cap you at USD$50,000.
As with the EU countries above, you must declare any money you are bringing into Italy above 10,000 euros.
As with the EU countries above, you must declare any money you are bringing into Germany over 10,000 euros.
You can bring as much or as little foreign cash with you to the Bahamas and take it out again.
However, you are not allowed to exit with more than B$200, as the currency is restricted.
Carrying the money with you.
If you are carrying the funds on your person, you need to report them at the port of entry. You can print off a copy of the E667 Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report here.
Mailing the money
If you are mailing money out of Canada, you must complete the same form and you must affix a Universal Postal Convention Label to the outside of your package.
If you are mailing the money to Canada you must complete the form, make a copy, and include the original with your package and mail the copy to the nearest CBSA office near you. (You can also submit the copy in person.) CBSA offices include both border crossings and other CBSA offices at airports, marinas and the like. (To see a complete list of the over 1000 CBSA offices throughout Canada, click here.)
In both cases, additional restrictions may apply; contact Canada Post for more information.
You can also find the nearest office to you by contact CBSA’s helpline:
- Within Canada: 1-800-461-9999
- Outside of Canada: 1-204-983-3500
Couriering the money
If you are sending the money by courier, you must complete the E667 form mentioned above and the courier must complete an E668 Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report. Both forms must be attached together and submitted to a CBSA office.
In the US, it depends on your relationship with the money and how you are sending it.
- If the money is already yours, and you are travelling with it you must submit FinCEN Form 105 to US Customs at the port of entry either upon entry into the United States or upon leaving. As long as US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) deems the report truthful, you have nothing left to do.
- If you are couriering or shipping the money, you submit the same form ahead of either your arrival in or departure from the United States.
- If you are receiving the funds from someone else, you have 15 calendar days to submit the same form to CBP.
You can submit the form at any US Port of Entry or by mail to
Commissioner of Customs
Attention: Currency Transportation Reports
You must declare your money at the port of entry, whether it is accompanying you or if you are shipping it.
You must declare any money over USD$5,000 you are carrying with you or shipping in – $2000 if you are a resident – on the declaration card upon arrival in Cuba.
Upon departure, you must be able to show you declared the money on entry, or that you have been authorized by a Cuban bank to take the money out of Cuba.
The United Kingdom
In order to declare money over 10,000 Euros, you must complete a Revenue and Customs Cash Declaration at the port of entry. You can find this form here or at the port of entry. If you complete the form ahead of time, you need to make a copy. If you complete it at the airport, the form makes a carbon copy. Hand over one copy to customs; the other must be placed in the appropriate dropbox at the port of entry.
You must declare your money in excess of 10,000 Euros upon arrival in France at the port of entry.
The Dominican Republic
All cash must be declared upon arrival or departure at a DR port of entry.
You must complete a Customs Declaration form in duplicate and you will need to hold on to your copy until you leave the country. You must present any permit or warrant you have when leaving if you are exporting more than USD$5,000.
You must declare any cash in excess of 10,000 euros upon arrival in or departure from Italy.
You must declare any cash in excess of 10,000 euros upon your arrival in or departure from Germany.
You do not have to declare your money when entering or leaving Bahamas, unless of it is Bahamian dollars.
If you do not declare your more than $10,000 in cash or monetary instruments and you are caught, you may be subject to fines ranging from as little as $250 to as much as $5,000 (depending on the amount you are importing or exporting). Additionally, the funds can legally be seized and you may have to forfeit them, depending on the results of any investigation the government takes.
If you fail to report your more than USD$10,000 and you are caught you could face fines up to $500,000 and, in the most serious case, a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
If you do not declare your more than USD$10,000 and you are caught you will be
- fined 20%-40% of the total value if the amount is between $10,001 and $30,000
- put in jail if the amount is greater than $30,000.
If you are a repeat offender and the amount is less than USD$30,000 you may still face jail time. If convicted, sentences range from 5-15 years.
If you fail to declare the money upon arrival or departure and you are caught, the money will confiscated in total. Additional penalties – such as imprisonment – may apply if the amount is high enough.
The United Kingdom
If you get caught not declaring funds in excess of 10,000 euros, you can face fines up to £5,000. Customs may also seize your money; they can seize the money for 48 hours after which time they may only continue holding it with a court order.
The European Union allows each country to determine their own penalties for failure to declare in excess of 10,000 euros. In France, your money will seized until you can provide proof that it is yours and was acquired legally.
The Dominican Republic
If you fail to declare your money or you attempt to export more than USD$10,000, your money will be subject to seizure and you may face additional penalties, such as jail time.
Failing to declare the more than USD$5,000 you are bringing into China can result in the seizure of your money and perhaps more serious penalties, such as fines or imprisonment, depending on the amount of undeclared cash. The fine could be up to 100% of the value of cash you did not declare.
If you are caught with cash in excess of 10,000 Euros, which you have not declared, you may be subject to fines up to 200% of the value of the money you snuck into – or out of Italy – or even stricter penalties if the cash is discovered to be from a criminal source.
If you do not declare your cash in excess of 10,000 euros and you are caught, you could be subject to a fine of up to 50,000 euros. Jail time is also a possibility with sentences of up to 5 years being imposed if smuggling the cash into or out of Germany is deemed criminal. Sentences of up to 10 years may be handed out if additional criminality is involved in the offence.
The only currency regulations concern Bahamian dollars: attempting to export more than B$200 will result in the seizure of that money and possible additional penalties including fines and imprisonment, depending on the amount being smuggled out.
These rules represent international efforts to curb money laundering – the process of making money acquired by criminal activity look like it came from legitimate business activity – and the financing of terrorism.
In the past, many countries imposed restrictions on exporting their own currency for various economic- and fiscal-policy related reasons and restricted the importation of stronger international currencies to prevent the devaluing of the national currency. These policies have been actively discouraged by international political and economic organizations because they hamper trade – though a number of countries still restrict their currencies.
But the rules that try to end international money laundering and terrorism-financing are relatively new because the practices themselves are not that old. It is only over the last few centuries that people have been able to travel around the world easily and money laundering with completely unusable currencies that could not be exchanged made no sense. Global money laundering only makes sense in a global economy with plane travel and the ease of electronically transferring money or transporting money by plane or ship. International terrorism is only a recent historical occurrence and international funding of terrorism is less than 100 years old. And it is only recently that governments have created the means to demand the declaration of currencies and monetary instruments. (For example, imagine a Canadian border officer trying to discover what amount of Saudi riyals a visitor or immigrant was trying to import before the existence of the internet.)
In Canada, the above rules were created post-911, which is the case with the rules in most of the above jurisdictions as well – the EU, for example, put its laws into place a few years after Canada. However, the United States has had such provisions since the 1970s in order to combat both organized crime and drug trafficking.
Declaring cash when you travel is a modern reality that cannot be avoided. No matter how you try, governments will try to track your money. So you have two choices when moving or travelling abroad and bringing large sums of money:
- declare, or
- do not declare and risk the consequences: fines or imprisonment.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.