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How Much Gold Can You Travel With Internationally?

April 11th, 2020

We know when we travel internationally that all money above $10,000 USD must be declared to customs. Far too many stackers are under the impression that the value of their gold is based on the face value of the coin when traveling. They are led to believe that the extra premium they pay for a coin over bullion allows them to base the coins value by its face value. This is not the case. Many local coin shops use this as a selling tactic: "You know if you ever need to disappear you can take these with you and customs will allow it." This is not true. The value of the coin(s) is based on the intrinsic value, otherwise known as "spot" price. Not the face value.

So essentially at the current rate of spot being just shy of $1700 USD, you would be able to travel with just under six, 1-ounce American Gold Eagles. However, if you are traveling to a European, or Asian country I would highly recommend contacting customs from the country you are arriving at. Some countries, like India, charge a tax on all gold brought into the country.

As much as we like to think of gold and silver as being our backup plan, and our safety net; when it comes to traveling it becomes a burden. If traveling with more than a few ounces I would highly recommend contacting customs of both countries via email and print out the response stating the precautions you must take; as most customs agent do not have a lot of experience dealing with travelers moving large amounts of precious metals; which naturally creates suspicion.

An image of going through customs in China

If you are traveling with a very large amount of gold (in access of 10k to 100k), bring a receipt from the purchase(s), and if possible a statement from your bank indicating that the purchase was done through a legal channel, and if verification is required you have provided a branch managers contact information.

This is what you can expect when traveling with large amounts of precious metals:

  1. Expect to know the exact amount in weight, and its current spot value. Not knowing how much you have, or what it's worth will be problematic.
  2. Be able to explain why you are traveling with it, and that you have taken the necessary steps to follow both the laws of the land you are departing from and arriving to.
  3. If you did not arrive in the country with precious metals but are departing with precious metals be expected to produce receipts and documentation. If you paid cash, show the card of the shop and drop the name of the owner, or if purchased at a convention, show the conventions flyer, and proof of purchase.
  4. Expect to answer the same question several times to different people in the presence of officers whom you have already answered these questions to. They will be checking for consistency and honesty.

What you should do when traveling with precious metals:

  1. Be up-front and have all the documentation on hand and present it before being asked.
  2. If possible, request to conduct a private screening, away from prying eyes.
  3. Let them know you contacted customs in advance and are aware of procedures.
  4. Most importantly relax and be patient. Do not give attitude if the questioning is becoming intrusive.

Traveling with precious metals is stressful and full of uncertainty. Follow the above guidelines, and the law, and things will go according to plan.