What You Need to Know About Bringing Gold into the U.S.

Posted on February 15, 2021

When you enter the United States from another country, you're required to go through customs and declare certain items. Cash is one of the more common things that require you to fill out a form, if it exceeds a specific amount. This leads many people to think that gold will be treated the same way because it's something that has monetary value. However, different customs rules apply to this precious metal. Find out more about the rules that pertain to bringing gold into the U.S., just in case you need to do so in the future.

What Are the Common Scenarios in Which Gold is Brought into the United States?

People may bring gold into the United States for personal or business purposes. If you aren't trading gold, you may carry gold into the country in the form of a gold watch or gold jewelry you're wearing. In addition, you may have gold stored in one of your bags, such as other gold jewelry pieces, gold items you purchased abroad, gold gifts for your loved ones or just your own personal collection of gold coins.

People in the gold trading business may enter the United States with gold items for a variety of reasons. They might decide to bring in gold jewelry, coins or bars to add to the inventory in their gold or coin dealer shop, jewelry store or antique store. It's also possible that they are attending a gold or jewelry convention and want to show potential buyers samples of their gold products. Another scenario is that they plan to start a store that sells gold items from other countries.

What Rules Exist for Bringing Gold Into the U.S.?

When you enter the U.S., you're required to make a customs declaration if you're carrying cash or any form of currency that amounts to more than $10,000. Additionally, you may also have to pay a customs duty. However, gold coins and bullion aren't regarded as a form of currency, so you don't need to declare them or pay duty for them. Then again, there are certain exceptions, including:

  • Legal tender gold currency: If you bring spendable¬Ě foreign currency that's gold-backed or made of gold into the U.S., different laws may apply. One example of such currency is gold coins that are used in a certain country as a form of legal tender. If you have more than $10,000 worth of such foreign currency, you're required to complete a FinCEN 105 form [1]. Nevertheless, if the amount is below $10,000, you can bring it in without declaring it to customs.
  • High-value collectible with gold content: You may also be subject to different restrictions and duties if you arrive in the U.S. with gold items that are considered high-value collectibles or fine art. For instance, if you're entering the country with a rare work of a Renaissance Italian goldsmith that you purchased in Italy for $1 million, you can't tell the customs officer that it's worth only $3,000 because it contains only a few ounces of gold. If you have such an item, you should consult an appraiser and attorney first before attempting to bring it into the country.
  • Gold items made in certain countries: You aren't allowed to bring gold items made in Iran, Sudan and Cuba into the U.S. [2] This restriction also applies if you bought such items in a different country.
  • Fake gold items: Counterfeit gold items are prohibited from entering the U.S. If they're detected, they'll be confiscated. Some fake items are extremely well made, and they may even have the markings of the countries where their genuine counterparts were made. Therefore, you may want to check the authenticity of your gold products first before you bring them into the country so that you can eliminate the risk of having them confiscated.

Basically, the aforementioned rules and restrictions apply whether you're carrying gold into the country as an individual or a person representing a company. They also remain the same regardless of why you're traveling with gold.

How Much Gold Can You Bring Into the United States?

The U.S. doesn't impose a limit on the quantity or value of gold coins or bullion you can bring into the country. This is also the case for foreign gold currency, except that you have to declare it if it exceeds $10,000. Regardless of the type or amount of gold you intend to carry with you, it's recommended that you declare it to customs anyway. If you're unsure how to declare gold at U.S. customs, all you need to do is speak with a customs officer at the airport or border.

What Are the Trends for the Forms in Which Gold Tends to Be Brought Into the U.S.?

The most common forms of gold that are brought into the U.S. include jewelry, watches and gold currency. One of the reasons for this is because these items are light and easy to carry. You are also allowed to bring gold bars on a plane as long as you meet the weight restrictions for your baggage.

What Rules Apply If You Want to Import Gold to the United States?

If you want to import gold bars into the U.S., you will be subject to the same rules that apply to travelers who carry gold with them when they enter the country [3]. Gold bars, coins and medals are duty-free and don't need to be declared. This is also the case if you're importing raw gold into the U.S.

Compared to some other countries, the U.S. has more relaxed rules for bringing or importing gold into the country. Still, it's important to understand and comply with the restrictions so that you can avoid inconvenience or confiscation.

Article Sources:

1. bizfluent. 'How to Import & Export Precious Metals,' https://bizfluent.com/how-7158143-import-export-precious-metals.html. Accessed September 23, 2020.

2. USA Today. 'How to Travel With Gold Coins,' https://traveltips.usatoday.com/travel-gold-coins-107387.html. Accessed September 23, 2020.

3. Shippabo. 'What to Know When Importing Gold Coins, Medals, and Bullion to the U.S.,' https://www.shippabo.com/logistics-knowledge/gold-coins-medals-and-bullion. Accessed September 23, 2020.