Reporting physical currency

Frequently asked questions


What is physical currency?

'Physical currency' is money. It is defined in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) and means the coin and printed money of Australia or a foreign country that:

  • is designated as legal tender
  • circulates as, and is customarily used and accepted as, a medium of exchange in the country of issue.

Back to the top


How much currency can I carry out of, or into, Australia?

You can choose to carry currency out of Australia, or into Australia, but you must declare it if it is $10,000 or more in Australian dollars, or a foreign currency equivalent.

Back to the top


Who has to report movements of physical currency?

Travellers entering and departing Australia are required to report any currency they are carrying of $10,000 or more in Australian dollars, or a foreign currency equivalent.

Mailing or shipping currency of $10,000 or more in Australian dollars, or the foreign currency equivalent, must also be reported.

People are allowed to carry currency of $10,000 or more, but it must be reported.

People carrying bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs), such as traveller's cheques, must also declare them if requested. For more information, visit AUSTRAC's reporting bearer negotiable instruments web page.

Back to the top


Why does physical currency have to be reported?

Carrying money across borders is a common money laundering technique.

It is a legislative requirement to declare currency, under sections 53 and 55 of the AML/CTF Act.

Back to the top


When and where is physical currency reported?

This usually occurs at the Customs examination area when entering or leaving Australia. If you are carrying currency of $10,000 or more in Australian dollars, or the foreign currency equivalent, you will be required to complete a report and sign a declaration confirming the information in the report is correct.

Cross-Border Movement - Physical Currency (CBM-PC) reporting forms are available from Customs officers at international airports and sea ports.

Mailing or shipping currency of $10,000 or more out of Australia must be reported to a Customs officer, a police officer or directly to AUSTRAC. Reporting forms can be obtained by contacting AUSTRAC. The report must be submitted before sending the currency out of Australia. When receiving currency from outside Australia, the report must be submitted by the recipient within 5 business days of receiving the currency.

Back to the top


What is the limit for physical currency carried into or out of Australia?

There is no limit to the amount of physical currency that may be brought into or taken out of Australia. However, amounts of $10,000 or more must be reported.

Back to the top


Are there any fees charged for carrying or reporting physical currency?

There are no fees charged by AUSTRAC, Customs or the police for carrying or reporting physical currency.

Back to the top


Can children carry physical currency?

There is no age limit. However, reporting physical currency cannot be avoided by having a child carry it for an adult.

Please see the information below about 'structuring' and penalties for not reporting.

Back to the top


Can a person carry physical currency for someone else?

Yes, but the carrier must still report the currency. On the CBM-PC reporting form, the person carrying the currency gives information about themselves, as well as information about the person for whom they are carrying the currency, including full name and address, organisation or business.

Back to the top


Is it okay to share the physical currency between travellers in a group?

A party of travellers, such as a family, might choose to break up a reportable amount of currency among themselves, so that each traveller is carrying less than $10,000.

If this involves, for example, a young child ‘carrying’ $9,950 across the border, it is arguable that the main purpose of dividing the cash among the party is to avoid the reporting requirement. 

Sharing the money to avoid reporting is called ‘structuring’. It is against the law.  

It is an offence (under section 143 of the AML/CTF Act) for a person to conduct, or cause another person to conduct, multiple non-reportable cross-border currency movements in a way which can only be reasonably explained as intentionally avoiding cross-border movement reporting requirements. 

Penalties for structuring include imprisonment and/or a fine imposed by the court. Civil penalties provide for an infringement notice requiring the person to pay a fine.

Back to the top


If a person has any bearer negotiable instruments as well as physical currency, do they need to report both?

There are two different forms.

A CBM-PC form must always be completed when a person is carrying $10,000 or more in physical currency, into or out of Australia. Only physical currency is counted in the total amount. For example, $5,000 in physical currency and $5,000 in traveller's cheques is not reportable on a CBM-PC form because the physical currency is less than $10,000.

A CBM-BNI form is used to report BNIs, when requested by a Customs or police officer. A single form cannot be used to report both currency and BNIs. More information about BNIs is available.

Back to the top


What happens to the completed CBM-PC form?

The CBM-PC 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 form to AUSTRAC. When mailing or shipping currency, the reporting form can be sent directly to AUSTRAC. The information provided on reporting forms 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.

Back to the top


Can a copy of a completed CBM-PC form be obtained?

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.

Back to the top


Are there penalties if a person does not report physical currency?

Yes. Failure to report movements of physical currency is an offence under sections 53 and 55 of the AML/CTF Act. Penalties upon conviction include imprisonment and/or a fine imposed by the court. Civil penalties provide for an infringement notice which may be given, requiring the person to pay a fine.

Back to the top


What if a person needs help completing the CBM-PC form?

Customs or police officers are able to assist in completing the CBM-PC form, or the AUSTRAC Contact Centre can be contacted on 1300 021 037 (a local call within Australia).

Back to the top