Do I need to declare my debit card in US Customs?
March 26, 2011 4:52 AM   Subscribe

Will I have to declare my debit card when going through US Customs?

I am about to travel to the US for just shy of 3 months on the Visa Waiver Program. Since I am unemployed, I feel that there is a good chance I will get asked about how I am going to support myself during my stay. I have a credit card with a $2,000 limit, and am planning on getting a bank statement confirming that I have roughly $60,000 in my account (which is tied to my debit card).

My question is, am I going to have to declare this on the Customs form? It doesn't mention debit cards, but it doesn't seem unreasonable that it would be covered by the definition of monetary instruments:
13. Mark an X in the Yes or No box. Are you or any family members traveling with you bringing $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars or foreign equivalent in any form into the United States?

Read definition of monetary instruments on the reverse side of the form.
Examples: coins, cash, personal or cashier's check, traveler's checks, money orders, stocks, bonds.
If yes, your must complete the Customs Form 4790.
posted by Bukvoed to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
Best answer: No. That question is concerned with movement of cash and things with cash value like bearer bonds. Debit cards are not included.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:56 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Exactly. It's the cash itself they're interested in, not the money. (Now there's a koan for you.) I believe it has to do with tracking counterfeiting.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:33 AM on March 26, 2011

Best answer: no, if you withdraw through a debit card the IRS has access to this information. The reason for the customs declaration is actually tax evasion, not so much tracking counterfeit cash.
posted by Brennus at 5:46 AM on March 26, 2011

Best answer: Answers are correct. They also want to track/prevent money laundering. Cash is nearly untraceable, so they want to get a waypoint for it when crossing the border. If you are up to no good, it will be in border patrol's records that you had this pile of cash.

This is also why there are no more $500 or $1000 bills- to make money laundering and cash deals harder.

However, with your debit card, if you were up to no good, it would be easily traceable through your bank. It is also not an "instrument" because it itself is valueless, the same way your checkbook is valueless.
posted by gjc at 5:47 AM on March 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick replies! I kind of assumed it wouldn't be necessary, but wanted to make sure.
posted by Bukvoed at 6:19 AM on March 26, 2011

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