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Traveling with Cash: Problem at Customs?

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I know that if you want to enter (or exit) the US with cash it has to be declared if it's over $10,000. But my question is what about if you enter the country with a large amount of cash (8000-9000) that is under $10K. Is it at all advisable?

I ask because I've heard horror stories about US customs seizing cash on the flimsiest pretext. Thus even though this is my money, legally earned, and I like to keep it cash because it's more convenient for me to travel this way, I fear that US customs will invent some reason to seize it from me. I've heard they do this to people under civil forfeiture laws, and then it's very hard to get back.

I've also noticed that they're very aggressive every time you come into the country, asking all kinds of questions, and in particular asking about cash that you carry even under the declaration limit. Needless to say I am wary of this. I'm afraid from the things I've heard that they won't respect the law and will do whatever they have to in order to seize cash or valuables.

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with this or advice to give, and if it is indeed a bad idea to carry cash even under the 10K limit.

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