Failing to declare large amounts of cash at Singapore checkpoints could lead to fines and/or jail time

immigration gates Image Credits: CNA/Eugene Goh

Have you read the news about how a couple of individuals were apprehended at Changi Airport for failing to declare that they were bringing in more than S$20,000 in cash into Singapore?

If you don’t already know, know this:

You must declare such amounts online within 72 hours of arriving at or departing from Singapore’s checkpoints.

For more information on this and how to make your declaration, head to ICA’s official website.

Why declare?

Simply because the anonymity that cash provides makes it appealing for illegal activities.

Let’s also not forget that large sums of cash can be suspicious since there are now more efficient ways to keep and transfer money.

In addition, declarations help authorities track suspicious money flows and ensure that funds are not used for unlawful purposes or illegal activities that may lead to charges and imprisonment.

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Why the S$20,000 limit?

The S$20,000 limit aims to balance effectiveness and intrusiveness.

If the limit were to be too high, illicit activities might go undetected and conversely, if it were to be too low, the requirement to declare would become overwhelming and unnecessary for small, everyday transactions.

In some borderline cases, authorities may issue a warning if you can provide a valid explanation for carrying large sums of cash.

Perhaps it’s for medical expenses, family emergencies, gifts, business transactions, education costs, or large purchases…

But you don’t want to play by ear when it comes to such things.

Consequences of non-declaration

Since the online declaration process within a 72-hour window leaves little room for excuses, failing to fully and accurately declare amounts over S$20,000 in cash or bearable negotiable instruments can result in up to three years of jail time, fines up to S$50,000, or both.

Moreover, some individuals explicitly try to evade detection by hiding cash in vehicles or on their bodies, further complicating matters.

Is this declaration only a Singapore thing?

No. Similar declaration requirements exist in other countries.

For instance:

In Australia, you must declare amounts over A$10,000.

In the United States, you need to declare amounts over US$10,000.

European Union countries like Germany, Spain, Italy, and France require declarations for amounts over 10,000 euros.

The United Kingdom has a limit of £10,000.

In the UAE, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the limit is 60,000 dirhams, etc.

By understanding and adhering to these requirements specific to the country you’re entering/leaving, you can help ensure the security and integrity of financial systems globally and most importantly, don’t get yourself into unnecessary trouble with the law.

Travel with the right knowledge in your mind, yeah? 😉

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