Reporting bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs)
Frequently asked questions
- What is a BNI?
- Why does a Cross-Border Movement - Bearer Negotiable Instrument(CBM-BNI) form need to be completed?
- Who has to complete a CBM-BNI form?
- When and where is a CBM-BNI form completed?
- If a BNI is valued under $10,000, does it need to be declared?
- If a BNI does not specify a payee, does it need to be declared?
- Are there any fees charged for carrying, declaring or reporting a BNI?
- Can children carry BNIs?
- Can a person carry a BNI for someone else?
- If a person has $10,000 or more in physical currency as well as a BNI, do they need to complete a form for both?
- What happens to the completed CBM-BNI form?
- Can a copy of a completed CBM-BNI form be obtained?
- Are there penalties if a person does not want to complete a CBM-BNI form?
- What if a person needs help completing the CBM-BNI form?
- If a BNI is mailed, does it need to be reported?
A BNI is a non-cash monetary instrument which may contain the instruction 'pay to the bearer.' The bearer is the person in possession of the BNI. Common examples of BNIs are cheques, promissory notes, traveller's cheques, bearer bonds, money orders and postal orders.
Why does a Cross-Border Movement - Bearer Negotiable Instrument (CBM-BNI) form need to be completed?
It is a legislative requirement under subsection 59(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).
Anyone who is requested to do so by a Customs or police officer.
A Customs or police officer may request a person to complete a CBM-BNI form when entering or departing Australia. This usually occurs at the Customs examination area. A CBM-BNI form may also be required to be completed when a Customs or police officer conducts an examination or search and finds a BNI which a person has with them. The completed CBM-BNI form must be given to the AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer or the Customs or police officer immediately.
Declaring a BNI is different from reporting currency. There is no monetary threshold for a BNI. Even if the BNI has no face value (for example, a blank cheque), it still needs to be declared if requested by a Customs or police officer.
BNIs that do not specify a payee still need to be declared to a Customs or police officer if requested.
There are no fees charged by AUSTRAC, Customs or the police for carrying, declaring or reporting a BNI.
There is no age limit. Declaring or reporting a BNI cannot be avoided by having a child carry it for an adult.
Yes, but the carrier must still declare the BNI to a Customs or police officer if requested. On the CBM-BNI reporting form, the person carrying the BNI gives information about themselves, as well as information about the person for whom they are carrying the BNI, including full name and address, organisation or business.
If a person has $10,000 or more in physical currency as well as a BNI, do they need to complete a form for both?
A Cross-Border Movement - Physical Currency (CBM-PC) form must always be completed when a person is carrying $10,000 or more in physical currency, into or out of Australia. If a person is also carrying a BNI, then a CBM-BNI form needs to be completed if requested by a Customs or police officer, in addition to the CBM-PC form. A single form cannot be used to report both physical currency and BNIs. Click here for more information about reporting physical currency.
The CBM-BNI form is usually given to a Customs or police officer, who may check that all required information has been given. The officer then forwards the CBM-BNI form to AUSTRAC. The information provided on the form is stored in a secure system and is only accessible to AUSTRAC and a number of partner agencies including law enforcement. Personal details are not provided to any private companies.
It is possible to apply for a copy under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). Generally a person cannot apply for information about another person, unless that person's permission is obtained. An application form and further information can be found on AUSTRAC's FOI web page.
Failure to comply with the request of a Customs or police officer, such as by refusing to produce, declare or report a BNI, is an offence under subsection 59(3) of the AML/CTF Act. Penalties upon conviction include imprisonment and/or a fine imposed by the court. If a false declaration has been made to a Customs or police officer, they may seize the BNI under subsections 200(12) and 200(13) of the AML/CTF Act. A Customs or police officer can examine items that a person has with them, to determine if the person has a BNI or has made a false declaration.
Customs or police officers are able to assist in completing the CBM-BNI form, or the AUSTRAC Help Desk can be contacted on 1300 021 037 (a local call within Australia).
Mailing a BNI into or out of Australia is not reportable. There is a requirement under the AML/CTF Act to report the mailing or shipping of physical currency of $10,000 or more, but this does not include BNIs. Click here for more information about reporting physical currency.