Important changes in the reporting of international transportation of monetary instruments

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a bureau of the US Department of the Treasury that collects and analyzes transaction data to help safeguard our financial system from money laundering, terrorism and other illicit use.

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FinCEN carries out its mission by exercising regulatory functions under the Bank Secrecy Act. In August of 2014, FinCEN issued guidelines for common carriers of currency to correct deficiencies and enhance compliance related to the filing requirements of FinCEN Form 105 (titled “Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments,” this form is sometimes referred to as a Currency and Monetary Instrument Report (CMIR).

More recently, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a circular to refresh public understanding of the law and regulations enforced by FinCEN, and to clarify how FinCEN Form 105 should be used by carriers that transport monetary instruments1.

Now you must file a FinCEN Form 150:

  • If you are a common carrier that transports, mails, ships, or receives more than US$10,000 cash or other money instruments into or out of the United States (31 CFR § 1010.340).
  • If you are the common carrier, shipper, consignee, currency originator, currency recipient, or another party involved in the physical transportation of monetary instruments.
  • If you have someone else carry the currency or monetary instruments for you.

It is now not necessary to file a FinCEN Form 150:

When monetary instruments made payable to a named person are not endorsed, or bear restrictive endorsements.

In the case of credit cards with credit lines of over US$10,000.
When transferring funds of US$10,000 or more using an ATM or online banking system.
On imports of gold bullion, [where reporting monetary instruments does not apply].

Carriers engaged in the cross-border transportation of currency or other monetary instruments that aggregate US$10,000 or more must complete a separate CMIR for each delivery within the same shipment, even if any or all of those individual separate deliveries are less than US$10.000.

It’s important to keep in mind that information provided on Form 105 may result in other significant legal consequences. For example, there has been an increased focus by the government on international tax-related issues. If the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, or other government agencies learn that a significant amount of money is now or has been transferred or transported overseas without proper reporting, the government could pursue sanctions such as fines and penalties, or even criminal prosecution.

When in doubt, file

Ignorance of reporting requirements is not a defense to a seizure by CBP of monetary instruments. In the absence of proper reporting, even criminal prosecution is possible. Therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution.

Exemptions to FinCEN Form 105 reporting requirement

FinCEN’s CMIR regulations include a limited exemption from filing for common carriers of currency. However, it applies only when all the following conditions are met (31 CFR § 1010.340 (c)(9):

  • The transportation consists of currency or other monetary instruments imported to or exported from the United States.
  • It takes place overland.
  • It’s between a bank or a broker or dealer in securities on the US side, and a non-US person or the foreign side.
  • The shipment is picked up or delivered at the established office of the bank or a broker or dealer in securities on the US side.

Be aware that a common carrier of currency cannot apply this exemption to itself. Furthermore, the CMIR regulations include a number of exemptions that apply to other parties.

Where and when is the FinCEN Form 105 filed?

  • If you are a recipient of a monetary transfer, you are obliged to file FinCEN Form 105 within 15 days after receipt of the currency or monetary instruments with the CBP officer in charge at any port of entry or departure, or by mail with the Commissioner of Customs (currency Transportation Reports, Washington DC 20229).
  • If you are a shipper or mailer, and if currency or other monetary instruments do not accompany the person entering or departing the United States, FinCEN Form 105 may be filed by mail on or before the date of entry, departure, mailing or shipping with the Commissioner of Customs (currency Transportation Reports, Washington DC 20229).
  • If you are a traveler, you must file FinCEN Form 105 at the time of entry into the United States, or at the time of departure from the United States, with the Customs officer in charge at any Customs port of entry or departure.

    What information does the form require?

It includes personal information about the person transporting the currency or monetary instruments, the date of export or import, and the type and amount of currency being transported.

A common carrier of currency engaged in the cross-border transportation of currency or other monetary instruments must file a CMIR:

  • Identifying itself as the one shipping currency or monetary instruments on behalf of another.
  • Identifying the city and country of origination and destination, and the date the transportation took place.
  • Including the consignee’s name and address.
  • The name and address of the currency originator (if known by the common carrier of currency).
  • The shipper’s name, address, and type of business.
  • The currency recipient’s name and phone number.
  • A full description of the type and US dollar equivalent amount of currency and monetary instruments transported.
  • It must be signed and dated by the common carrier of currency, or a person they have duly authorized. 

Penalties for not filing a FinCEN 105

Failure to file a report, filing a report containing a material omission or misstatement, or filing a false or fraudulent report can result in civil and criminal penalties, including, under certain circumstances, a fine of not more than US$500,000 and Imprisonment of not more than 10 years. In addition, the currency or monetary instrument may be subject to seizure and forfeiture (see 31 U.S.C.5321 and 31 CFR 1010.820; 31 U.S.C. 5322 and 31 CFR 1010.840; 31 U.S.C. 5317 and 31 CFR 1010.830, and U.S.C. 5332).

1. As the gatekeeper of the nation’s ports of entry and exit, CBP partners with sister federal agencies whose responsibilities extend to the movement of goods, or in this case monetary instruments, in or out of the country, to ensure compliance with the other agencies regulations.