Are you heading away on a big holiday abroad, or moving overseas, and are unsure how much money you can actually carry out of Australia?
The good news is there’s no limit to how much cash you can take out of, or into, the country. But while you can carry unlimited sums out of Australia, you may have to declare amounts with a combined worth of AU$10,000 or more.
Important read: While we try to keep this info as accurate and up to date as possible, it's general information only. Please remember we don't provide financial or legal advice.
How much cash can I take out of Australia?
Australia doesn’t impose a strict limit on the amount of money you can take out of the country, which means you can (in theory) carry however much you like.
But that doesn’t give you a free pass. You'll be legally required to declare physical cash worth $10,000 or more in Australian dollars or a foreign currency equivalent when you travel into or out of the country.
You must also declare any non-cash forms of money when asked by an Australian Border Force or police officer.
And while you may have no trouble carrying large amounts of money out of Australia, you could have a setback on arrival in your destination country.
Many foreign countries have their own, often stricter, rules about bringing cash into the country. In some cases, you need only declare the sum on arrival but it’s still important to understand the rules of your specific destination country before you go.
How can I declare AU$10,000 on departure or arrival?
Carrying large sums of cash is a popular money laundering technique, so you could raise suspicion if you’re lugging around large wads of AUD or another currency.
To avoid any complications, make sure you declare any cash worth more than $10,000 (in AUD or a foreign currency equivalent) at the customs examination area.
That counts whether you’re leaving Australia or just arriving, and whether you’re carrying the cash on you personally, or whether you’re mailing or shipping currency.
Declaration forms are provided at Australian airports and seaports to help you make this declaration easily. You can also download the required form and fill it out before entering the airport or seaport. On a positive note, you won’t be taxed for taking this money out of the country.
What happens if I bring more than $10,000 AUD and don’t declare it?
It’s actually your legal responsibility to report international movements of AU$10,000 or more under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).
If you fail to declare these sums, you could face a hefty fine (payable through your credit card, debit card, or bank draft), or even a jail sentence.
It’s just as dodgy to split up large sums of cash between two people, though many people try it to avoid having to declare. It's tempting to carry an amount just under AU$10,000 and have your travelling companion carry an equal amount.
But the combined sum still amounts to over $10,000 and if you get caught, you could be charged with a criminal offence called ‘structuring’, which can incur a huge fine or even jail time.
What does AU$10,000 in cash mean?
Legally, you must declare cash in Australian and foreign currency if the combined value is AU$10,000 or more. Cash can mean Australian dollars or foreign currency in the physical form of notes and coins.
You only need to declare non-cash forms of money, also known as bearer negotiable instruments (BNI), if you’re asked by an Australian Border Force or police officer. In this case, you’ll be given this AUSTRAC form to fill in and submit.
BNIs might include an instruction ‘pay to the bearer’, who would be whoever is carrying the BNI. They can include cheques, bills of exchange, promissory notes, traveller’s cheques, bearer bonds, money orders, or postal orders.
Carrying large sums overseas?
Finally, it’s worth asking yourself whether you'd even be comfortable or feel safe carrying AU$10,000 or more in cash on a long journey.
If you’re heading away on a long trip that will whittle away your savings to the tune of $10K or more, you might consider better ways to take your money overseas. This could include carrying a small amount of cash along with a credit or debit card for easy access to more money when you need it.