International money movement and the $10,000 reporting requirement

Any time you travel with, send or receive $10,000 or more across Australia’s border, you must declare it to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), who seeks to ensure that international money movements do not constitute money laundering.

You may face penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for not reporting when legally required.

There is often confusion about what needs to be declared, the specific rules for carrying and declaring money, and potential penalties for non-compliance. This article aims to clear up this confusion, presenting the key points outlined by AUSTRAC.


When must the movement of money be declared?

You must declare cash and non-cash forms of money in Australian and foreign currency if the combined value is AUD10,000 or more when you:

  • Travel into or out of Australia with it,
  • Send it overseas, or
  • Receive it from overseas.

Examples of how money may be sent or received include by mail, courier, air or sea freight.

You cannot avoid legal obligations to declare money by sharing money between travellers in a group or having children carry the money. This is called “structuring” and it is against the law.


What forms of money must be declared?

Cash and non-cash forms of money that must be declared if the combined total is $10,000 or more include:

  • Physical currency or cash, and
  • Bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs) including:
    • Cheque.
    • Traveller’s cheque.
    • Money order, postal order or similar order.
    • Bill of exchange.
    • Promissory note.
    • Bearer bond.
    • Other negotiable instruments not covered above.

A BNI often includes an instruction “pay to the bearer” – the person in possession of the BNI. Even if a payee is not specified, however, the BNI must be declared.


How to make a declaration

If you are travelling into or out of Australia with $10,000 or more you must complete this form before you pass through customs when arriving or departing Australia. AUSTRAC recommends saving a copy of your submission receipt, as you may need to show it to an Australian Border Force or police officer.

If you are sending or have received more than $10,000 internationally, you must complete this form. AUSTRAC advises that if you are sending money, complete the online form before you send it. If you have received money from overseas, complete the online form within five business days of receiving it.


Do any money transfers not need to be declared?

You don’t need to declare money that you transfer overseas or receive from overseas through a bank or a remittance service provider (money transfer business).

You also don’t need to declare bullion or other precious metals to AUSTRAC.


Key takeaways

You are legally required to declare to AUSTRAC the movement of $10,000 or more across Australia’s border, except where money is transferred overseas through a bank or a remittance service provider or where the movement relates to bullion or other precious metals. Failure to comply with reporting requirements may result in fines and imprisonment. The appropriate forms should be completed, and procedures followed, to ensure that you comply with your obligations.

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in cases involving the movement of large values of money, including where there is alleged money laundering.

Contact us if you require assistance.