Travellers with NZ$10,000 or more cash must declare

Travellers with NZ$10,000 or more cash must declare

Venkat Raman
Auckland, December 30, 2019

The new Financial Crime Unit has specially trained dogs to detect drugs and cash (Picture Supplied)

New Zealand Customs that travellers from and to New Zealand carrying NZ$10,000 or more or its foreign equivalent, should declare before their travel.

“This is to ensure that they are not unintentionally left out of pocket,” Customs Acting Group Manager (Border Operations) Jamie Bamford said.

He said that the number of instances and the volume of such cash at New Zealand’s international airports increased this year.

In 2018, Customs detected undeclared cash on almost 400 occasions, and seized almost $675,000. In just the nine months to September 30, 2019, undeclared cash was detected on more than 550 occasions, with seizures totalling almost $974,000, he said.

Not illegal but disclose

While carrying NZ$ 10,000 or more or its foreign currency equivalent to and from New Zealand is not illegal, it must be declared according to the law.

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.

Mr Bamford said that the total amount should include any traveller’s cheques, bearer bonds, money or postal orders and bills of exchange. 

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, he said.

The money trail

“By following the money trail, we are able connect smuggled cash with other criminal activities such as illicit drug smuggling, so that 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,” Mr Bamford said.

The government accepts that travellers may have good reasons for carrying large amounts of cash, but it must ensure that that such cash is legal.

“Please declare it and fill out a Border Cash Report – we’d rather not be the Grinch this holiday season,” he said.

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 (0800-428786) in confidence, or CrimeStoppers on 0800-555111 anonymously.

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