New Bill Threatens Those Travelling with Cryptocurrency

in travel •  2 years ago


It appears new legislation is coming for those travelling into or out of the US and carrying cryptocurrencies. A new bill introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein titled ‘Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017’ has been introduced. If it becomes law, holders of digital assets and travelling abroad should take extreme precautions as to not have their digital assets seized and prepare to declare them.

Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017

Section 2 states:

Current law requires an individual transporting monetary instruments with an aggregate
value exceeding $10,000 into or out of the United States to file a report with Customs and Border
Protection. However, the law does not specify how to value a check for reporting purposes when
the dollar amount is left blank. Section 2 would make clear that monetary instruments with the
dollar amount left blank are to be valued in excess of $10,000 for reporting purposes, if the instrument is drawn on an account containing more than $10,000.

If you have travelled internationally recently, you most likely did not declared digital assets with Customs and Border Protection. Once this new bill becomes law, you could be in violation if your digital assets exceed the $10,000 limit. Failure to report can result in civil asset forfeiture procedures and your assets can be confiscated including stiff fines.

The Challenges For Travellers

This presents several unique challenges as bitcoin and many alt-coins are highly volatile. It is not uncommon for price fluctuations in bitcoin for example, to jump $200-$500 within a day or hours. Some alt-coins fluctuate even more! Let's assume you were to arrive 3 hours early at Heathrow Airport in London for a flight to JFK International in New York. At the time, you have 3.5 bitcoins in your hot wallet (3.5 BTC x 2588 = 9058). Now, after clearing security in London and then during your flight to New York the bitcoin price spikes $300 dollars per bitcoin. Now when you attempt to clear customs in the US the total value of your digital assets is now worth $10,108. If you do not declare your assets correctly, then you are subject to asset forfeiture and fines.


For those reading this and think they are safe using hardware wallets, you may need to think again. The bill also details the use of prepaid access devices and value cards which include your Trezor hardware wallet, as well as Xapo and other prepaid Visa cards such as WireX.

Section 13 states:

Certain monetary instruments, referred to in Department of the Treasury regulations as prepaid access devices, and often referred to as stored value cards, are increasingly becoming effective mediums for criminals to hide and move funds across the border because they are more easily concealable than cash, and they are not covered by reporting requirements. Section 13 would amend 31 U.S.C. § 5312 to include funds stored in a digital format within the definition of monetary instruments. This would effectively subject those devices to anti-money laundering reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act, in cases where the value stored is above $10,000.
Section 13 would also mandate two reports: (1) a GAO report on the impact of the amendments on law enforcement and the prepaid access industry; and (2) a Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection report detailing a strategy to detect prepaid access devices and digital currency at border crossings and ports of entry.

Yup! You read that correctly. ‘A strategy to detect prepaid access devices and digital currency at border crossings and ports of entry.’

Digital Devices On Flights

Another interesting recurring topic is the laptop and digital device ban that keeps being discussed in the media. To anyone paying attention, it appears that authorities are getting nervous with people travelling internationally with digital devices and now coupled with this new legislation will make it more inconvenient to move around with digital assets.

Expanded Laptop Ban

What I find most peculiar is that when using a prepaid bitcoin debit card such as Xapo or WireX, often times you need to upload identification to verify your address similar to Coinbase or other online exchanges. Also, Xapo and WireX both use Visa as the intermediary meaning all of your transactions are easily tracked. What difference does it make if you fly with a prepaid debit/credit card rather than just a regular credit card? It shouldn’t matter, other than to make your life much more difficult and to frighten the population into avoid using such payment vehicles.


Yes there are still ways to move cryptocurrencies without hardware wallets or prepaid debit cards (eg. brainwallets) but it adds another layer of complexity and inconvenience that most don’t understand or won’t follow. If you are carrying hardware wallets or bitcoin debit cards you may want to refrain from doing so once this law comes into affect. My suspicion is that if you are searched, or your devices are detected passing through security, you risk being placed on a special watch list and flagged for all future travel or just simply harassed. It would also not surprise me to see this information passed onto other agencies such as the IRS which believe that your wealth somehow belongs to them. With the highly fluctuating price of these digital currencies it could make for an easy government heist if you aren’t careful, since many users in this space have several cryptocurrencies and not just bitcoin on their hardware wallets. Keeping track of the value of these fluctuating digital tokens won’t be an easy task.

Perhaps I will write another article on how I intend to protect myself the next time I travel and what you can do to protect your bitcoin and your wealth while travelling internationally. I’ve always been a proponent of cold storage paper wallets and I can state here, right now, I will never travel with any type of hardware wallet that is recognizable at any port of entry.

Please comment and share your views and if you are interested in learning what I intend to do going forward.


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They are getting desperate


I totally agree. This is new information to me

Most I know don't use hardware wallets. Also, anything Grassley and Feinstein introduce is going to be DOA as all the senate hearing committees are headed by the GOP. Your crypto is password protected and they would need a court order to get that from you IF they figured out you had some anyway. Online wallets allow you access your coins from anywhere. There are so many holes in this net that I don't think it could ever be implemented. But this was a GREAT POST in terms of keeping things on your radar. Crypto allows one to bypass control and those in control don't like that at all! So upvoted!


I agree with your comments @mericanhomestead. While very interesting - this bill seems implausible in practice. I don't understand how they will be able to find out how much money you have on any debit card (nevermind crypto specific ones) or in a wallet unless you tell them. This bill looks like it was written by idiots who are clueless about technology.


Yes, idiots they are. They are going to have a tough time stopping it but that has never stopped them before.'s the war on drugs working out?


i'd say the war on drugs is working well for the gov - that was their intention to create more problem to be able to provide more solution and make some money at the same time, but i digress. While i agree that they are idiots, they are idiots with very big guns and a lot of psychological control over your fellow citizens. so that is an issue when people are incentivized to rat on each other. this is coming.


Let us hope the bill dies. I just won't carry a hardware wallet so I can avoid the hassle, and since it is a physical device the authorities will easily recognize that I'm a crypto user. Red flag right away.

Online wallets are great but since you don't control the private keys they aren't the safest place to store large amounts of bitcoin.

I personally have both Xapo and WireX cards and use them when I travel. Now I may have to reconsider taking them with me, again so I don't set off any red flags.

Yes they can't stop it, but it is sure going to be less convenient and people better be careful and knowledgeable of how they travel with their crypto or they could end up in a world of hurt.

Thanks for posting. :)

Complete BS! @alexwyn
Total Infringement of One's Privacy Right's...


I know it is nuts! I just wanted to get the message out there now before people start flying around the world with $100K on their Trezor thinking they're all hunky dory! Better be careful because big brother wants to know and he'll steal first and ask questions later.

Thanks for posting @missiontothemoon.


Very glad you posted this! I ReSteemed it because this Really needs to get out. I was thinking about purchasing a Trezor, but I'm unsure now.


Thanks for the Resteem!

Yes the word does need to get out. As for a Trezor, I think you should be okay using it, but you may want to reconsider taking it with you if you're exiting or entering the US.


I agree. We need our privacy back.

Great post and lots of good info. Leave it to the government to try to take money anyway they can! Followed.


Thanks. Just wanted to get people thinking now about how to travel in the future. Need to be wise and prepared to protect your wealth.

Cheers and followed you back. :)


It is sad the governments are so desperate for cash they will do anything to get it.

too funny, I'll be marketing earrings that you can slip your Nano S's into, Do these politicians know how to turn on a computer?
Bet there will be a thousand hidden details stashed in so the centralizers can reclaim their territory..


lol...ya they're funny thinking they can stop it. Don't be surprised to see coming future terror events financed entirely by crypto. This should get the population good and scared and why crypto needs to be controlled by big government. lmao

I hate this kind of stuff, when the government feels threatened they start to pull this crap. They can't just keep their nose up of things. Thanks for posting.


Hopefully this helps get the discussion rolling and people to be a little more careful with their crypto when crossing borders.

Thanks for posting @road2wisdom. :)

Thank you so much for this, and keeping us informed as to the regulatory garbage that continually is forced down our throats. Looking forward to your future posts.


Thanks! Glad you liked it. Being informed is one of the best ways to preserve your wealth.

Cheers. :)

Yep! The panic mode's on now. But this is definitely going to create more buzz around cryptocurrencies.


Haha...ya more buzz for sure. It is going to be fun to watch them try to stop this.

this is easy to bypass super easy
say it like how they say it in starwars " THESE ARE NOT THE BITCOINS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR" XD

Great blog. I presume that this will be rolled out and become law globally. The system does not want you to leave and as it's dying it will try to hold onto you. The system cannot afford to loose you.


Thanks for posting and thank you for your resteem @shippers!

Following. Cheers. :)


Hi, it was an interesting blog and I enjoyed reading it. We live in very interesting times and it is better to be aware than to be caught out and risk what we have worked hard for. No, thank you 👍

I get the reasoning behind, but implementation will be quite tricky.


Yes they will have a tough time implementing it but they will probably try. Don't be the first one trying to explain how much crypto is on your Trezor. :)

Take care, and thanks for posting.

Whether that bill lives or dies isn't really what's important. What's important is the MENTALITY of these politicians as demonstrated by their bill, as well as the mentality of the people who vote for them. Government is a menace, as are the people who vote for it to continue.

The technical solution for their proposal is very simple. I'm a perpetual traveler (currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand!) and I have already been operating under the assumption that confiscation/security breach by government operatives on re-entry to the former U.S of A. is highly likely.

They can ALREADY search phones and laptops btw. So the only point in this legislation is to allow them to "legally" steal any cryptocurrency they find on them..that's what they're really up to. Our job is to be smart about dealing with these thieves, until their Empire explodes into chaos. At which time they will be too busy to bother with us lol. We must come to understand that we are under no obligation to support them, obey their laws, or pay their taxes. They no longer represent us, as they are too busy representing themselves.

To the author: Sorry to Steemit users, but I highly recommend that you do not describe the opsec you intend to use in the real world. General concepts are fine, but your opsec should be your opsec. You could also end up endangering other people. Government types are not very creative, there's no reason to help them find the weak spots in their systems.


To the author: Sorry to Steemit users, but I highly recommend that you do not describe the opsec you intend to use in the real world.

Duly noted. You make a valid argument there.

Thanks for posting. Following. :)


Washing ton is great at killing good ideas... seems to be their job.

I have a solution for this.. just write down or memorize your passphrase. (I actually keep all my passphrases on encrypted USB sticks) Before traveling erase any traces on your electronics of apps, wallets or anything of the sort. Then after reaching destination just restore your wallets.

Thank you for keeping us abreast of events in, "The home of the free and the home of the brave." It's sad to see The Powers That Be flail about with kneejerk reactions as their currencies and market makers lose degrees of control daily.

The democratisation of value and enterprise, its evolution and logical progressions were elegantly epitomised by George Orwell in his salient work, Animal Farm. As I recall, it was the America of Old that fought for Liberty from an oppressive British Empire - a fight for democracy and freedom. It would appear that the America of Now has become frighteningly similar to the very type of establishment it fought so valiantly to leave.

And so it goes...


America certainly has changed over the last few decades. Seems most have been swindled into giving up Liberty for safety. In the end, there is neither.
People are waking up which is a good sign. Hopefully liberty will take priority once again.

Thanks for your post. Cheers!