Hikind Warns “Don’t Let Your Pesach Trip Be Ruined”

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Following numerous reports of unpleasant encounters with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D, Brooklyn) is working to help travelers avoid unnecessary hardship before Pesach.

“Many people fly to and from Israel and other locations prior to the holidays,” said the Assemblyman. “If they know what to expect and what’s required of them, they can avoid missing their flights or having their funds confiscated.” In a concerted effort to work with Customs and Border Patrol, Hikind has sent a letter to numerous travel agents in the Tri-state area urging them to advise clients of proper reporting procedures for international travelers.

Recenty, Hikind met with Francis J. Russo, Port Director to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at JFK, as well as with Adele Fasano, Port Director at Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey. The meetings were arranged to discuss complaints Hikind had received of less than respectful treatment by some agents of certain travelers. While conditions have improved, Hikind also looked to be proactive in an on-going effort to aid travelers.

“I became aware that many travelers are ignorant of the regulations, so I’m trying to help educate everyone,” said Hikind. “Passover is fast approaching and many people will be traveling, so it’s important that they follow the rules so their holidays aren’t spoiled.

“Travelers must declare whether they are carrying currency or other monetary instruments in an aggregate amount of over $10,000. There’s no limit to how much money they can carry provided that they are truthful and the entire amount is disclosed. If and when approached by Customs and Border Patrol agents, disclose to these agents the full amount that you are carrying.”

Regulations state that if a person or family members traveling together have $10,000 or more, they cannot divide the currency between each other to avoid declaring the total. Any amounts exceeding $10,000 must be declared and filed on a report called FinCEN form 105. This form can be obtained at all U.S. ports of entry and departure, or via the internet at www.fincen.gov/fin105. Monetary instruments include U.S. or foreign coins and currency; travelers checks in any form; checks, promissory notes, and money orders; and securities or stocks in a form which ownership can be transferred to another. Monetary instruments do not include checks or money orders made payable to an individual or entity which have not been endorsed or which bear restrictive endorsements (such as “for deposit only”).

“If money is not properly disclosed, it may be seized and you will have a very hard time getting it back,” warned Hikind. “I urge travelers to take these regulations seriously so that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable holiday without incident.”

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