Ruth Emery
By Ruth Emery
Finance Journalist
Updated 03 May 2023
|Read time: 5 mins

Take note of the rules and limits for taking cash abroad

Many holidaymakers don’t need to worry about the laws around how much money you’re allowed to bring into other countries.

However, if you’re planning to give cash as presents to loved ones abroad, are travelling with a large amount of money to fund a globe-trotting adventure, or perhaps have a cash deposit for an overseas property, then it definitely pays to know the legal limits.

Here we explain the answer to “how much money can I take abroad?” as well as rules around bringing cash into the UK, and any potential fines you may have to pay.

How much money can I bring into a foreign country?

If you’re wondering “how much money can I take abroad?”, the answer is it depends on the country you’re travelling to. 

Some countries have laws on the amount of cash someone can bring in, and there are rules around declaring cash at customs. Here’s a handy list of what you can bring into some countries:

  • Travelling to an EU country  – cash above €10,000 must be declared

  • USA – cash above $10,000USD must be declared 

  • Canada - cash above $10,000CAD must be declared

  • Australia - cash above $10,000AUD must be declared 

  • New Zealand - cash above $10,000NZ must be declared 

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates - cash above DH60,000 must be declared 

  • Thailand  - cash above THB500,000 must be declared 

  • Indonesia - cash above IDR 100 million must be declared; any money above IDR 1 billion will be confiscated

    India - cash rupees above 125,000INR or any foreign currency worth more than $5,000USD (or $10,000 cash and travellers’ cheques combined) must be declared.

Is there a limit on how much cash you can take out of the UK?

As well as potential restrictions on how much money you can bring into a foreign country, there are also rules around the amount of cash you can take out of the UK. 

If you’re travelling abroad from the UK with £10,000 cash or more, you’ll need to declare it with UK customs. This includes notes and coins, bearer bonds, travellers’ cheques and other cheques (including those that are signed but not made out to a person or organisation). 

You can make the declaration online to HMRC, or over the phone, up to 72 hours before you plan to travel. If you fail to make the declaration, your cash could be seized by a Border Force officer, and you may have to pay a fine of up to £5,000 to get it back.

Where can I buy money for travel?

You can buy holiday money online or in person at a bureau de change. For foreign currency with no commission fees, pop into one of the bureaux de change in our John Lewis & Partners shops, or order online. You can either pick up the travel money at a John Lewis or Waitrose near you, or have it delivered to your home the next working day.

Exchange rates in our shops may vary from those offered online.

How much cash can I bring into the UK from abroad?

There is no cash limit to bring into the UK money from abroad, however you do need to declare if you bring cash to the UK of £10,000 or more.

When you arrive in the UK, follow the “goods to declare” or “red channel” signs, and tell a Border Force officer you want to declare cash. There are more details about how to do this on the UK government website. 

If you’re looking to exchange leftover travel money when you arrive home from your holiday, you can sell it back at a John Lewis Bureau de Change. We offer competitive rates with no commission fees.

How much money should I take on holiday?

There’s no right or wrong response to this. It depends on your budget and the type of holiday, and of course, you must be careful not to breach any of the rules around how much cash you can travel with.

If you’re wondering whether to take cash or a debit, credit or prepaid card on your travels, take a look at What are the Best Ways to Spend Money Abroad.

Travel money

It’s handy to have some local cash when you go on holiday. For foreign currency at great rates, pop to a Bureau de Change in our John Lewis & Partners shops around the UK or order online using our currency converter.

Exchange rates in our shops may vary from those offered online.

If you’re thinking of using a bank card abroad, make sure you check what fees you could be charged.

By planning ahead , you can reduce the charges and get a great deal on your holiday money.

It’s worth having plenty of euros, pesos or rubles ready to avoid any awkward moments.

John Lewis Finance and John Lewis & Partners Bureau de Change are both trading names of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 1 Drummond Gate, Pimlico, London SW1V 2QQ. Registered in England (Registered Company Number 233462). John Lewis plc introduce the panel of carefully chosen providers in Bureau de Change products and services, whom each hold the appropriate licences with the Financial Conduct Authority and HMRC.

Foreign Currency online from both John Lewis Finance and John Lewis & Partners is provided by First Rate Exchange Services Limited registration number 04287490 (Money Service Business licence number MLR-64068), whose registered office is at Great West House, Great West Road, Brentford, West London, TW8 9DF England.

Copyright © John Lewis Partnership
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