Tag Archives: LAWS CHANGE

HOW TO STAY INFORMED WHEN THE LAWS CHANGE

As laws change constantly you should either inquire with the local embassies of countries you plan to visit before departure or, at the very least, find some other way of getting the facts straight. A very useful publication is the ABC World Airways Guide (published by Reed Travel Group, Church Street, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU5 4HB, UK. The size of two phone books, this monthly guide lists not only all scheduled arriving and departing flights, transfer connections etc at all airports, worldwide, but also gives constantly updated information about not only currency control regulations (if any) in all countries but also useful additional information about social norms, “do’s and don’ts” (never show the soles of your shoes in a Moslem country, for instance). Cost is about US $500 per year.
Cheaper yet is TIM, the Travel Information Manual. This volume omits airline schedules and the do’s and don’ts. Because of this, it is far slimmer and thus far less expensive, too. TIM is a green A5 format paperback of about 400 pages, with a new edition every month. It lists currency rules, visa requirements, duty free allowances, etc. A free copy of last month’s issue can probably be begged from your friendly neighborhood travel agent.
As long as you are able to convince authorities that you are merely a tourist you may get away with importing, carrying and exporting cash in amounts far bigger than those “allowed” by local law. It is always better to be regarded as merely an ignorant and slightly daft tourist than a local. Local citizens are always considered fair game for police and customs officials alike. Take the example of British comedian Ken Dodd. Dodd was indicted for tax-evasion after authorities got wise to the fact that he kept very large amounts of money in his house, in cash. Dodd’s explanations that he quite simply does not trust banks failed to convince Big Brother-investigators. Fortunately for Dodd, he was able to convince the jury and was acquitted of the charges.
American authorities are notorious for flat-out confiscation of large cash sums found in the possession of private citizens. In 1991, a woman in Florida was pulled over by a motorcycle cop on a minor traffic violation. When searching her purse for her driving license, the officer noticed that it was overflowing with large denomination dollar bills. She was immediately arrested on suspicion of being a drug dealer. Her money was confiscated. In reality, she was on her way to a real estate broker in order to close a property deal. The cash she carried was the intended downpayment. Only after several months of court battles was the money returned to her. No apology was offered, of course. Her lawyer probably got one third as his fee.
So, be smart. Carry more money than you ordinarily would need, and carry it right – on your person. If you need to transport large sums of money, avoid air travel if possible – even domestic flights. Americans get a particularly hard time from their government if found in possession of even relatively modest amounts in cash (about 1000 dollars and up). If you need to move huge sums in cash OUT of your country, the most intelligent way of doing so is, if possible, by boat. If you are worried about moving huge sums of cash out of the United States by plane, why not consider taking the Queen Elizabeth II to UK? This way, at least, you will not have to explain the origins of the cash in plain view of US Customs officials, as might be the case if the money was found in your car when crossing the border into Canada. Or, simply declare any reasonable sums you are going to export before you cross the border.