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Customs reminds travellers to declare cash

02.53pm 20 December 2019 | News

Customs is reminding everyone travelling internationally these holidays to declare if they are carrying more than NZ$10,000 or its foreign equivalent, to ensure they aren’t unintentionally left out of pocket.

There has been an increase in the undeclared cash detected and seized at New Zealand’s international airports this year. In 2018, Customs detected undeclared cash on almost 400 occasions, and seized almost $675,000. In just the nine months to 30 September 2019, undeclared cash was detected on more than 550 occasions, with seizures totalling almost $974,000.

It isn’t illegal to arrive or depart New Zealand with more than NZ$10,000 or its foreign equivalent, however it must be declared. This can be done by completing a Border Cash Report, which is available either from a Customs officer at the airport or by downloading it from the Customs website where it is published in different languages.

The total amount of cash being carried should include any traveller’s cheques, bearer bonds, money or postal orders and bills of exchange. 

Customs Acting Group Manager Border Operations, Jamie Bamford, says organised crime groups are known to move illegal profits in and out of the country using smuggled cash and trade based money laundering – making these key focus areas for Customs.

“By following the money trail, we are able connect smuggled cash with other criminal activities such as illicit drug smuggling, so we keep a very close eye on cross-border movements. Customs has a newly-formed financial crime unit that specialises in this complex field, and our detector dogs are dual trained to detect both drugs and large quantities of cash.”

“Travellers may have good reasons for carrying large amounts of cash, but we just need to make sure the money is legal. Please declare it and fill out a Border Cash Report – we’d rather not be the Grinch this Christmas,” says Mr Bamford.

Travelling internationally with more than NZ$10,000 or its foreign equivalent in undeclared cash can also result in prosecution.

If you have suspicions about someone smuggling large quantities of cash, call either 0800 4 CUSTOMS (0800 428 786) in confidence, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously.