Dulles CBP seizes $11k from couple traveling to Vietnam.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, CBP officers seized $11,882 from a couple traveling out of Dulles on February 6, 2018.

During inspections of travelers leaving the US, CBP stopped a couple boarding a flight to Vietnam. When stopped by CBP, the couple initially told CBP they had $4,000. CBP officers then read the reporting requirements to the travelers who then claimed they possessed $7,000. Upon further questioning, the travelers wrote down they had $9,000. After searching the traveler’s belongings, CBP found additional currency in the male passenger’s pants and and a purse belonging to the female traveler. A total of $11,882 was seized by CBP.

CBP does not limit how much money travelers can carry, however, CBP does require reporting of any currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more. A common misconception we hear at our law office is that the amount of money being carried will somehow be subject to a tax, which is not true.

As the couple was traveling to Vietnam at the start of February, I believe the large amount of cash was to be used during the celebration of Tet which falls on Friday, February 16th this year. Hopefully the couple will return in time to respond to the seizure notice that will inevitably be mailed to their address on file.

If your hard-earned money was taken as part of the $289,000 seized on average by CBP daily,  call David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com, we are here for you!

 

 

 

Flying back to the US after the holidays? Be wary of these items that are prohibited from entering the U.S.

pexels-photo-123013.jpegTraveling overseas is a great opportunity to take a break from work, visit family, or just visit and explore what the world has to offer.

After a nice trip abroad, it is easy to forget about the many prohibited items U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not allow to enter the US. Here’s a summary of some prohibited items from CBP’s most recent revisions as of December 8, 2017:

Please note, that all passengers carrying fruit, vegetables, meat and/or poultry products still must declare these products to CBP for inspection – regardless whether or not it is allowed into the US.

Prohibited:
1. Muraya or “orange jasmine” is used in the construction of alters. Orange jasmine greenery may carry the Asian Citrus Psyllid, an insect that carries citrus greening disease.
2. Oranges, Grapefruit, Tangerines, Sour Oranges, Sweet Limes, Guavas, Mangoes, Peaches, Pomegranates from Mexico are prohibited.
3. Most fruits from outside the US.
4. Cut flowers with berries.
5. Kinder eggs, they pose a choking hazard and are illegal for consumption in the US.
6. Moon cakes containing egg, beef, poultry or pork NOT from Canada. If CBP officer can not confirm the filling of a non-Canadian mooncake, it may be denied entry.

Allowed:
1. Fruit from Canada with proof of origin.
2. Cut flowers (does not include dried, bleached, dyed, or treated plants, filler, greenery, fern fronds.
3. Ethrogs, also known as Citrus medica is allowed after inspection. Travelers will need to open the container and unwrap it. In the event insect stings or pests are found, the ehtrog will be prohibited from entering the US.
4. Twigs of myrtle and palm fronds require inspection.
5. Gift baskets may be allowed after inspection by FDA, CBP and USPS (if mailed)
6. Baked goods (bread, cereal, crackers, cakes).
7. Moon cakes with verified Canadian origin.

Safe travels everyone! If you or anyone you know has had property or currency seized by CBP, give us a call for a free consultation at 832.896.6288 or dhsu@givensjohnston.com

CBP seizes $110,000 in money from travelers going to Taiwan.

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According to a CBP Public Affairs release on December 12, 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (IAH) seized over $110,000 USD from a couple flying from Houston (IAH) to Taipei (TPE).

International travelers leaving or entering the US can carry an unlimited amount of money must report any currency (checks, cash, money orders, etc.) in any denomination (USD, Euro, Yen, RMB, NTD, etc.) over $10,000.

The travelers subject of the December 12th press release reported $50,000 to CBP but a subsequent search resulted in a total finding of $110,204. The money was seized by CBP and the travelers departed to Taiwan.

The press release also indicates that CBP seizes approximately $289,609 in undeclared or illicit currency each day at the various air, land, and sea ports of entry into the United States.

If you or anyone you know has had money seized at any airport, border crossing or seaport while entering or leaving the US, contact David Hsu at 713.932.1540 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com for a free consultation.

FinCEN Form 105 FAQ

Currency Seizure

We get a lot of inquiries from travelers who were requested by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to complete and sign the FinCEN Form 105, so we thought it would be helpful to post a short Frequently Asked Questions page about Form 105. Please note the information can change at anytime so it’s best to always check the official Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

What is FinCEN Form 105?
FinCEN Form 105 is a form you must complete to report that you are carrying more than $10,000 in currency while entering or leaving the US.

What is considered currency?
The FINCEN definition of currency: The coin and paper money of the United States or any other country that is (1) designated as legal tender and that (2) circulates and (3) is customarily accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance.

Do I only report coin and paper money?
CBP says all travelers are required to report “negotiable monetary instruments” which includes currency or endorsed checks valued more than $10,000.

What are “negotiable instruments”?
-Coin or currency from US or other countries;
-Gold coins (excludes gold bullion);
-Travelers checks;
-Checks;
-Promissory notes;
-Money orders;
-Checks or money orders made out to someone else;
-Checks or money orders endorsed without restriction (for deposit only);
-Incomplete checks that are signed even if the “To” line is blank
-Securities or stocks in bearer form

What if I fail to declare currency in amounts more than $10,000?
Customs will seize the currency. The seizure process at the airport takes time and you will be delayed and/or miss a connecting flight.

I’m a foreign visitor to the US, do I still have to fill out a FinCEN Form 105?
Yes, anyone entering or leaving the US is required to report their currency.

What if I have a layover in the US on my way to another country, do I still have to fill out a FinCEN Form 105?
Yes, a layover in-transit to a foreign country at a US airport is still considered entering the US.

If I report the currency, is there a duty on the amount I report?
No, CBP does not collect duty on any currency.

What does the form look like?
The most recent version of Form 105 (July 2017) can be found here:
https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/shared/fin105_cmir.pdf

Is the form available in other languages?
Unfortunately the form is only available in English. If you need the FinCEN form translated in Chinese, I can help out.

My currency was seized, what should I do?
Contact me soon as there are time requirements on getting your seized currency returned to you.

I have more questions, can I contact you?
Feel free to email me at dhsu@givensjohnston.com or 832.896.6288.

 

What happens after a Customs currency seizure?

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In my blog post yesterday, I discussed what happens after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) seizure of items and merchandise. Today’s post is along the same line but will focus instead on currency (cash) seizures by Customs.

Most of our clients report seizures of currency and cash while they are either entering or exiting an airport or at a border crossing. At the time of seizure, Customs will give you a receipt of the seizure. This is form 6051S and is officially known as the “Custody Receipt for Seized Property and Evidence”. It is important to keep this receipt as it will contain the identification number of your seizure for tracking purposes and is your only proof of the money seizure. If you do receive this form, be sure it is properly filled out and contains how much money was seized, the officer seizing the property, and contact information.

Following the seizure, Customs must send you a CAFRA Notice of Seizure that further details the seizure (why it was seized, date, location seized, and additional facts). You will get the seizure notice in the mail and it will be sent certified mail (you sign the green card, or you will receive a notice to pick up the certified mail letter at your local post office).

Once you receive the notice, you have to respond by 30 days from the date of the notice (not the day you physically receive the notice).

Your response to the seizure notice requires you to complete an “Election of Proceedings” form that will be included with the seizure notice. Customs will not easily return your seized currency and there are many nuances involved – contact me for a free consultation regarding your currency seizure.

 

What happens when U.S. Customs seizes your items?

Customs Currency Seizures

We are often asked what happens after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) seizes your merchandise. While there are many different scenarios and factors that influence the client’s specific seizure case, here’s our effort to summarize what typically happens.

At all the ports of entries into the U.S., Customs will stop, examine, search, detain and or seize merchandise from persons entering or leaving the U.S. or merchandise being being exported or imported to and from the U.S.

Customs officers are entrusted to enforce the hundreds of laws for the over 40 government agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). Customs’ job is to assist these agencies in ensuring unsafe and prohibited items are not allowed to enter the U.S.

A typical Customs officer may search for items such as counterfeit merchandise, illegal drugs, food or drugs not approved by the FDA or items from a country in which the U.S. has an embargo. The list of prohibited items is exhaustive and our clients are often surprised their items were seized.

Items and merchandise held by Customs are sent to a Centralized Examination Station (“CES”) to “maintain control and accountability of merchandise imported into the United States” (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP Directive No. 3270-007A). Customs has 35 days from the time of arrival of the items in the U.S. to detain the items for examination. At this time, Customs will also notify the importer, customs broker or attorney with an explanation for the detention.

After 35 days has passed, the cargo must be seized or released. However, as previously mentioned, the amount of various government agencies involved and associated bureaucracy may cause a delay of 60 days or more.

If it is determined that a violation did occur, the merchandise will be seized by Customs and then transported to a Seized Property warehouse. Once the items arrive at the warehouse, it will remain there until it is authorized to be released by Customs. The paperwork regarding the seized items will then be sent to a Customs Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Office (FP&F). At the FP&F, a paralegal reviews the file, prepares a written Seizure Notice and mails the notice to the party responsible for the items.

The Seizure Notice identifies when and where the cargo was seized along with the basis for the seizure.

It is important to seek immediate assistance when you receive a Seizure Notice as Customs only allows 30 days to Petition Customs for the release of the seized items. A Petition is a written explanation to persuade Customs to release the seized items. Not timely filing a Petition may result in the seized items being destroyed or disposed of.

Customs may grant the petition and release the items or Customs may deny the petition. In the event the petition is denied, you have the option to file a Supplemental Petition or Offer in Compromise.

As each seizure case is different, contact me at dhsu@givensjohnston.com to discuss your specific case at no charge.