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How to Bring Money When Traveling Abroad


Do not carry large amounts of cash. Take most of your money in travelers checks and remember to record the serial number, denomination and the date and location of the issuing bank or agency. Keep this information in a safe and separate place so if you lose your travelers checks you can get replacements quickly.


Some credit cards can be used worldwide, even for cash advances. Keep track of your credit card purchases so as not to exceed your limit. Travelers have been arrested overseas for mistakenly exceeding their credit limit! Leave all unnecessary credit cards at home. Record the numbers of the credit cards that you do bring and keep a list in a separate place from the cards.

Always report the loss or theft of your credit cards or travelers checks immediately to the companies and notify the local police. If you will stay in one place for some time, consider opening an account for check cashing and other transactions at a U.S. bank that has an overseas affiliate. U.S. embassies and consulates cannot cash checks for you.


Keep the telephone number for your bank in the United States with you in the event you run out of cash and need to transfer money. In some countries, major banks and certain travel agencies can help you arrange a transfer of funds from your account to a foreign bank. If you do not have a bank account from which you can obtain emergency funds, make arrangements in advance with a relative or friend to send you emergency funds should it become necessary. If you find yourself destitute, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance in arranging a money wire transfer from a relative or friend in the United States.


Before departing, you may wish to purchase small amounts of foreign currency to use for buses, taxis, phones, or tips when you first arrive. Foreign exchange facilities at airports may be closed when your flight arrives. You can purchase foreign currency at some U.S. banks, at foreign exchange firms, or at foreign exchange windows or even vending machines at many international airports in the United States.

Some countries regulate the amount of local currency you can bring into or take out of the country; others require that you exchange a minimum amount of currency. For currency regulations, check with a bank, foreign exchange firm, your travel agent, or the embassy or consulate of the countries you plan to visit.

If you leave or enter the United States with more than $10,000 in monetary instruments of any kind, you must file a report, Customs Form 4790, with U.S. Customs at the time. Failure to comply can result in civil and criminal proceedings.


Do not bring anything on your trip that you would hate to lose such as expensive jewelry, family photographs, or objects of sentimental value. If you bring jewelry, wear it discreetly to help avoid grab-and-run robbery.

Excerpted from:U. S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. U. S. State Department Publication 9926. February, 1992. pgs. 16-18. Note: As of July, 1997 this was the latest non-internet-published U.S. State Department document pertaining to this topic .

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