It is common for ministries to transport U.S. dollars internationally for ministry work. When doing so, it is important to follow the U.S. laws that relate to transporting of cash and monetary instruments.
An individual can legally carry or mail any amount of money into or out of the U.S., but you must report it to U.S. Customs and Border Protection using this form. If this reporting isn’t done, the traveler is at risk having the funds confiscated and potentially not getting them back. In addition, criminal and civil penalties may apply.
People who travel with money will be asked if they are transporting more than $10,000 in cash or monetary instruments. If they answer yes, then they must complete this form. After this document is completed, the inspector may choose to verify the funds. If the form was completed accurately and truthfully, the form is accepted and the traveler is free to depart. However, if the inspector finds additional funds, then all the money will be seized and the traveler will have to petition U.S. Customs for its return.
It is important to note that these laws apply to cash or monetary instruments that are mailed or shipped. They also apply if your ministry receives cash or monetary instruments that have been mailed or shipped internationally. (Note: The term “monetary instruments” includes foreign currencies, traveler’s checks, and checks or money orders which are in bearer form or from which the name of the payee has been omitted.)
A transfer of funds through normal banking channels, such as international wire transfer or international ACH, which does not involve the physical transportation of currency or monetary instruments, does not need to be reported.
If your staff or volunteers travel with, mail or ship cash or monetary instruments, provide them with this Currency Reporting Flyer from U.S. Customs, which includes good summary information and requirements to ensure that you’re in compliance.