Cash controls at the EU's external and internal frontiers
Background and aim
Generally speaking, money laundering describes the process of introducing the proceeds of crime, such as those generated from drug trafficking or cigarette smuggling, into the legal financial and economic system. It has been widely recognised that passenger traffic is one of the means exploited to move illegal cash (for example, in someone’s luggage) from one country to another, in order to mix it with legal cash flows, thus concealing its origin and rendering it inaccessible to law enforcement authorities once and for all.
Part of the aim of the cash controls is therefore to identify people with contact to terrorist organisations and to seize the money they are carrying in order to crack down on cross-border terrorist financing.
Since 15 June 2007, you must now complete a written declaration if you are crossing the EU's external frontiers and carrying 10,000 Euro or more in cash. For further information about your obligation to declare and the cash controls, please see the section on the control of cash movements.
In the case of intra-Community passenger traffic (in other words, when you travel from one EU Member State to another), the controls also extend to the movement of precious metals or stones in addition to cash.
Scope of the controls
In going about their duties, customs officials are required and have the authority to ensure compliance with obligations to provide written and verbal declarations.
This means your vehicle and luggage can be subjected to inspection.
Customs officials are authorised to search you if there is reason to suspect that you are carrying cash (at the EU's external frontiers) or cash and precious metals or stones (at the internal frontiers) under your clothes.
To avoid suspicion of money laundering or terrorist financing activities, you are advised to carry documents indicating the owner, provenance, and intended use of the cash or precious metals and stones.