Crossing the border with cash

Crossing the border with cash

Within the framework of the combat against money laundering, the EU has had rules since 2014 that oblige you to declare the 'liquid assets' that you carry with you when you cross the border. Declaration is mandatory as soon as you have more than 10.000 in cash with you. The existing regulation was further tightened in 2021.

Entering or leaving Europe

We must distinguish between roaming within the EU and crossing the EU's external borders (such as from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the US, …).

When you cross the external borders of the EU – regardless of whether you enter or leave the EU – you must complete a 'cash declaration' as soon as you have 10.000 or more in your pocket. This does not only concern cash in the form of euro notes, but also its equivalent in other currencies, bonds, shares or travellers' cheques.

Customs is authorized to check you at the border and, in the event of non-declaration, to take the liquid assets found into custody.

On 3 June 2021, the rules became even stricter.
Firstly, the concept of 'liquid assets' was expanded. From now on, you must also submit a 'cash declaration' if you transport valuable objects with a value of 10.000 or more when entering or leaving the EU. After all, since 3 June, the declaration obligation applies to:

banknotes and coins (including expired currency that can still be exchanged at a financial institution)

banknotes and coins (including expired currency that can still be exchanged at a financial institution)

bearer negotiable instruments, such as cheques, travellers' cheques, promissory notes and money orders

gold coins with a gold content of at least 90%

gold bars or nuggets with a gold content of at least 99.5%.

Secondly, Customs can ask you to submit a 'cash release declaration' if they discover that you have sent 'unaccompanied cash' worth 10.000 by post, freight or courier. That declaration must be made within 30 days by the recipient, the sender or an appointed representative of both.

Finally, Customs can now also intervene if there are indications that the cash is related to criminal activities. Even if the traveler carries less than 10.000.

Crossing the Belgian borders

Even when you stay in the EU, you may have to file a declaration. If you enter Belgium or leave Belgium from or to another EU Member State, you will now have to declare liquid assets as from a value of 10.000 if requested by customs. So-called 'unaccompanied liquid assets' (for example by post) must also be declared if requested by customs.

However, this obligation to declare only applies to cash and bearer negotiable instruments. Gold should not be declared.

Just like when crossing the external borders of the Union, Customs can also request a declaration if the value of the liquid assets is less than 10,000 when there is a suspicion of criminal activity.

Violations can lead to the confiscation of the money, but this confiscation can only last 14 days.

The new Belgian scheme is applicable as from 4 September 2021.