The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 20, May 19, 2013, Article 22
Kavan Ratnatunga forwarded this article about traveling with precious metals. Thanks! he writes: "If I had read this before returning to Lanka with my coin collection, I may never have done so." -Editor
Imagine you are docilely going through the long security line at John F. Kennedy International Airport, headed for your overnight flight to London Heathrow. As your carry-on bag goes through the X-ray, a burly TSA agent is called over to confer with the machine operator. He then looks at you and says: "Please come with me, sir."
As you are led to a small cubicle, you nervously try to think of what you might have done wrong. While you open your bag as instructed, the stern-faced TSA agent points to a small package and demands to know what it contains. Inside are antique, collectible gold coins that you intend to sell to the same British dealer from whom you bought them years ago, but now they are worth much more.
Now the agent says: "I'm sorry, sir, I will have to confiscate them, but I will give you a receipt. You have the right to file an appeal."
You stand there dumbfounded, the whole purpose of your journey destroyed.
Serious problems can arise when gold or silver coins (or any precious metals) are transported personally out of the U.S. to other countries by auto, airplane, boat or public transportation - or the reverse, when entering the U.S.
In May 2010, the Houston reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) agents and Border Protection officers at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport confiscated more than $250,000 in cash and almost $160,000 in gold and silver in 14 separate seizures from individual travelers during that one month alone.
If you must personally carry coins, my advice is to contact the nearest office of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, well ahead of travel, and explain what you propose to do and ask them how you can conform to the law. You should ask for and receive a written response so that you can show it if questioned by ICE agents. Also ask Customs if you need to notify them of your date and departure flight as a precaution against the very real possibility that a local Customs agent at the airport may not know the rules that cover this situation.
You will need to complete and bring with you a Census Bureau Form 7525-V, Shipper's Export Declaration. This form is required for exported commodities with a value exceeding $2,500. At current silver and gold prices, many coins would exceed this reporting threshold.
Failure to file this declaration can result in seizure. The consequences for stating incorrect information are severe, including confiscation. They may also result in a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment.
To read the complete article, see: Traveling With Precious Metals
This news item from 2011 Oct describes a real incident of a tourist with US$ Million. The only time I was stopped was in 2003 when I was returning to USA, transiting Bahrain with few modern Gold and Silver Sri Lankan commemorative coins. I had neatly packed the coins in their plastic capsules within a long transparent tube in my hand luggage. That probably caught the attention of the security X-ray. Luckily I had my export permit from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, and they accepted them as legal tender, and not bullion.
The couple was approaching the immigration counter at the BIA after the airline check-in, when they were hailed by Customs officials at 10.30 pm on Sunday, October 16.
The old woman and the middle aged person who claimed to be her son, inquired as to what the problem was.
The Customs had been alerted and the officers informed they wanted to check the couple’s baggage. The two passengers appeared unrattled and despite the confrontation did not react like ‘offenders’.
They were taken to the Customs desk in the far corner where their bags were placed before them and opened. What was inside made headlines in the local newspapers the next day.
In the bags there were stacks of gold in many forms; coins, jewellery and bars, and quite a significant amount of foreign currency worth over Rs. 120 million in total. They were not concealed but out in the open neatly packed to see by anyone who happened to open the bags. The two passengers who were to board a plane bound for Kuala Lumpur that night insisted that it was their own wealth, the wealth that his father, who passed away recently, had left behind. He and his mother had collected all the wealth and sold their property and were travelling the world to find a peaceful place to settle down.
This was the story the Customs was told.
The duo, 73-year-old woman and the 43-year-old male, were Korean born US citizens. Being repeatedly questioned about his vocation the man claimed although reluctantly, he was a writer of philosophy. “I have no issue in accepting their story but there is no proof that they brought the valuables with them when they arrived in Sri Lanka from India on October 12,” Customs Deputy Director M.R. Rajmohan who heads the inquiry told Sunday Observer.
To read the complete article, see: Smuggling ring or genuine travellers?
Wayne Homren, Editor