Many countries have rules which govern the amount of cash that travellers can bring in, and take out. If you’re planning on carrying a large amount of money on a journey anywhere in the world, you’ll probably find that you have to declare it, and complete a stack of paperwork. This is largely so the authorities can check the cash hasn’t come from criminal activity or been stolen.
So, whether you call it the UK, Great Britain, England, the United Kingdom, or good old Blighty, the reality is still that there are restrictions on how much cash you can take in or out. Use this guide to help you figure out how the rules might affect you.
The full name for the UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It’s made up of four countries - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the rules about bringing cash in - or taking it out - of the United Kingdom apply equally to all four countries.
There are no limits on how much money you can bring into the UK from another EU country. In this case, this covers the 28 current EU member states, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.
If you’re travelling to the UK from a country outside of the EU, you can bring in up to €10,000 - or the equivalent in another currency - without needing to take any specific action. Carry in excess of that, and you’ll have to complete a declaration when you arrive - more on that later.
If you bring too much cash to the UK, or make false statements on your declaration, you can be fined up to £5,000. The police can take your money from you, too, if they suspect any illegal activity. They’re free to confiscate your cash for up to 48 hours initially, and longer if they get a court order.
It’s really important to note that the limits on both taking money out of the UK, and bringing it in, apply equally to individuals or a family travelling together. That means that the most you can travel with is €10,000, whether you’re on your own or travelling with other family members. Unlike the rules for bringing in alcohol or other duty paid products, the upper limit for cash doesn’t rise according to the number of people who are crossing the border.
For the purposes of moving it across UK borders, cash includes:
- notes and coins of any currency
- bankers’ drafts
- cheques of any kind (including travellers’ cheques)
You don’t need to complete a declaration if you’re coming to the UK carrying cash, from one of the 28 EU member states, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Norway. That means no paperwork if you’re travelling from one of the following countries:
Countries from which you don’t need to declare cash when you travel to the UK
If you’re travelling to the UK carrying more than the equivalent of €10,000, from the USA, Australia, India or anywhere else outside of the European countries named above, you’ll have to complete a declaration upon arrival.
The form you’ll need, to declare currency when you arrive in the UK, is called a C9011 form. Catchy, huh?
You can get a copy at the port or airport when you arrive in the UK, or download it using the link above. You have to have 2 copies, so if you choose to print it from a download, make sure you carry an extra, completed copy with you. If you’re filling it in upon arrival, the form you’re given will automatically create a carbon copy as you write it.
You’ll have to leave one copy in a drop box which you can find in the port or airport on arrival, and keep the second copy to show customs officers as you pass over the border.
In most cases you can take an unlimited amount of money from the UK to other European countries. However, because individual member states can set their own rules, it’s important to check the details for the EU country you’re travelling to, before you set off.
If you’re taking more than the equivalent of €10,000 out of the UK, and travelling to any country outside those listed above, you’ll have to fill in a declaration. Depending on where you’re going, you might also find that there’s further paperwork to complete once you arrive at your destination, too.
These days, carrying large amounts of cash when you travel usually isn’t necessary, because ATM coverage is so high. You can skip the paperwork - and the security concerns - and use ATMs to withdraw money when you need it in the UK.
This has a couple of advantages. If you’re carrying money to pay for your trip and need to exchange it once you get to the UK, you might struggle to find a good deal. Many of the exchange bureaus and offices which are in the most convenient locations - the airport or your hotel, for example - offer poor exchange rates. That means you have to choose between spending your precious holiday time searching for a better deal, or getting ripped off on the exchange.
And of course, carrying cash can be risky, too. Although the UK is usually a very safe place to visit, carrying a large amount of money with you might make you a target for thieves - a sure way to ruin your trip.
If you want to rely on ATMs for your cash while you’re in the UK, and you, or someone you know, has a UK-based account, you could use TransferWise to change your money to GBP at a fair rate. When you transfer cash with TransferWise to a bank account based in the UK, you’ll get a fast, safe transfer which uses the same exchange rate that banks use among themselves. This means you’ll get the best available exchange rate, no matter what currency you’re planning on exchanging. Once your cash is converted to GBP and in a UK-based account, you can withdraw it from ATMs when you need it, and avoid the fees charged by exchange offices.
If you travel often, another great tool is the TransferWise borderless multi-currency account. This smart new account lets you hold your cash in multiple different currencies all at once. You can view your account balance easily, and move money between currencies using TransferWise. That means that you get the best available exchange rate, every time. Consumer debit cards, which you can use to pay for goods and services, and withdraw cash from ATMs as you travel, will be available for borderless accounts from early 2018, too. Finally, your money can be as flexible as you are.
It’s a good idea to know the rules before you go, when it comes to travel - and never more so than if you’re planning on taking a large amount of cash with you. If you accidentally break the law, you could find your cash confiscated, and even be fined. There are better ways to get your money where you need it. Using TransferWise could be simpler, less stressful, and leave you better off. So all you have to do is enjoy your trip to the UK.
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