An Open Letter to Travel Agents and Tour Operators

As I am sure you are aware, there is a serious ongoing issue at the New York area airports, mainly at Newark Liberty Airport, between the U.S. Customs Border and Protection agency (CBP) and chareidi travelers as they depart to various international destinations, especially to Tel Aviv. Sadly, hundreds of Yidden have fallen victim to the CBP screening, detention and seizure injustices, simply because they did not know the rules and the distinct definition of “currency” and “money.”

Much awareness has been raised during the past several months to help increase public understanding of the CBP guidelines as it relates to reporting of currency over $10,000 when leaving the country. But unfortunately, the problem is apparently unending and more needs to be done.

Travel agents can help their chareidi customers evade the unnecessary “suffering” from detention and seizure of all their money, by just alerting passengers to U.S. Customs’ “Know Before You Go” policy. To the general scope of information they provide travelers, agents can add a short message related to the CBP practices.

Passengers should be warned that the consequences of not declaring the exact amount of money they are taking with them (which includes signed but incomplete checks) are severe. Therefore, they must know precisely what is in their wallet before they proceed to the boarding gate and are met by the CBP agents. By simply sharing this information with your clients (it can be included with every international travel itinerary), you will be providing an invaluable service and chessed to the community by sparing them the drain of time, energy and money. After all, travelers do rely on their travel agents’ expertise and special knowledge related to all aspects of travel.

Miriam Berger