How Much Money Can You Take On A Plane?

Whether we’re traveling for business or for pleasure, most of us are used to bringing some cash for small expenses. But have you ever wondered how much money you can take on a plane?

Today, paying for purchases is a breeze. Scan your phone, swipe your card and you are good to go. However, having cash “just in case” is always a good idea, especially when traveling.

Traveling with money and cash comes with its challenges. There are many rules and guidelines to follow when flying with cash in hand.

How Much Money Can You Take On A Plane?

In the US, you can carry up to $10,000 USD cash on domestic flights. When traveling internationally, the cash limit is $10,000 USD. Although TSA can’t take money, they might try to seize it for civil asset forfeiture.

The $10,000 limit applies to both solo and group travelers. For instance, if you have four people traveling together, each of them must declare $30,000 as a tax liability. Usually, the best way to keep cash in your carry-on is to put it in the bag and secure it with a TSA-authorized lock.

Although it’s not illegal to have large amounts of cash, it can be very risky for law enforcers to keep it. If it turns out that the money was proceeds of illegal activities, they can seize it and try to seize it through a forfeiture action. Failure to report transactions involving over $10,000 can result in fines and even lengthy prison sentences. This is because the law requires banks and financial institutions to submit reports when dealing with large cash transactions.

Carrying Cash When You Travel in North America

As per the laws, you can carry any amount of money traveling in North America. You can also mail a high sum without worrying about restrictions. However, report the amount to U.S. Custom and Borders Protection if carrying more than $10,000.

North America

In the United States, Canada, and Mexico, you must make a formal declaration if you are carrying anything more than USD 10 000. That includes any form of shipping. 

Most of the North American countries adopt the same principles on the amount of cash that is allowed to be on your person while using air travel. 


In Canada, this applies to those who are both entering and exiting the country. The authority on this in Canada is the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which states that all monetary instruments include: coins;currency; travelers’ cheques; ‘bearer negotiable instruments’ (promissory notes, bills of exchange, treasury bills, bank notes, cheques); ‘bearer investment securities’ including bank notes, bonds, debentures; stocks; forwards, futures, stock options, swaps; bank drafts money orders and any similar ‘instruments’.

Close attention is also paid to those who make electronic transactions going into and exiting the country. They cannot exceed $10 000 either, without being declared. 

Hiding money discretely while flying can be a challenge, but there are plenty of solutions out there. Hiding it in checked luggage is not the right answer. Money should always stay with its owner. Perhaps the best location to conceal money while traveling is in secret compartments/hidden pockets inside carry-on bags, cross body bags, pants, jackets, etc. A multitude of products to aid in hiding money can be purchased. Also, remember to place money in multiple locations when concealing it. This is so if a hiding spot is compromised, you always have cash in reserve.

TSA does not have the right to seize any money, even if it is a large sum. However, they do have the right to notify law enforcement if they suspect the money to have criminal involvement. Law enforcement unlike TSA does have the right to seize money under certain circumstances.

On domestic flights in the United Kingdom, there is no cap on the cash total that can be carried by one person. There is also no limit for import and export when traveling between countries in the European Union.

There is technically no legal restriction on how much money can be with you when flying domestically in India. Generally, it is recommended by authorities to carry no more than approximately 2 lakhs which is equal to about USD 3,000.

Just like the US and the previously mentioned countries, the total amount of cash you can have on you when traveling on domestic flights within Australia is unlimited. There are also no limits when traveling to and from fellow members in the European Union either.

Can I Carry Cash In My Check-in Baggage?

You can put money into your check-in baggage but it is ill-advised. The problem with putting any valuable items into your check-in baggage is that this baggage can get lost. That would naturally create somewhat of a predicament for you. 

What Not to Do

  • Avoid putting electronics, medication, travel documents, keys, or jewelry in your check-in baggage. 
  • Do not put money into your check-in baggage. All of those items should be kept with you and in your carry-on baggage. 

The rule you should always apply in this context is that only disposable items should be packed in your check-in baggage. You know, things that can be relatively easily replaced if and when you reach your final destination. 

Can The Airport X-ray Machine Scan Money?

If the airport X-ray machine is high-quality, it will detect money within your bags. Meanwhile, a low-end device only shows cash in heavy stacks. So whether the machine can scan money or not depends on the item’s quality and brand.

Airport X-ray is Not Consistent with Scanning Money

A recent report by ABC news revealed that screeners, their equipment, and the procedures adopted by United States transport authorities failed most of the time. 

This follows a series of mock tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, which exposed the deficiencies that existed within the system. 

According to the ABC, that report was classified and they relied on information provided in a leaked memo from an internal source. 

Money Smuggling is Not TSA’s Primary Focus

The competence of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States has been called into question, which is probably encouraging for those who do plan to smuggle money into and out of the United States. 

There are reports that recommendations are being made to improve the quality of airport security but there is also scant detail on that, given that this is also classified information. 

TSA is Focused More on Dangerous Items

It should be noted that the focus of this report was on dangerous items. There are some doubts on whether the same kind of headway – if any – is being made on detecting the smuggling of large sums of cash. 

It has been reported that most customs authorities are heavily reliant on stop and search routines and that a large component of that is heavily reliant on hunches and suspicions. 

Cash Amount You Carry Through Airport Security

You can carry any amount of cash in your pocket when entering or leaving an airport in the US. The TSA has no right to seize your money at the premises. However, you must inform the customs when carrying more than $10,000.

Although it’s not illegal to carry cash in the US, airport security officers may ask passengers who are carrying a large sum of money to account for it. If you’re traveling with cash or monetary instruments, you can carry them on board without being asked to prove your identity.

X-ray machines can detect traces of money in luggage. If it’s large enough to warrant suspicion, the government confiscates it. When an X-ray machine scans a bag, it shows a dense mass. If it’s large enough to warrant suspicion, the traveler is taken to the airport.

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