By Jedidiah McKeehan

For many years of my life I was fortunate enough to be mailed small amounts of money from my relatives for my birthday.  I was appreciative and thankful, regardless of the amount.

However, I had a discussion with a friend recently who claimed that sending cash through the mail was illegal.  I was surprised and had never heard of this.  Had my grandma broken some federal law by mailing me $10.00 on my birthday?  Had everyone’s grandma broken a federal law by doing this?  Was my grandma going to end up in prison?

After doing some research on this topic I was relieved to discover that, no, it is not illegal to send cash through the mail, even though many people think that it is.  Does it look suspicious?  Sure, it does, but it is not illegal.

The only way you could run afoul of the law is if you are attempting to evade taxes or money laundering.  In those instances, you could be prosecuted under the federal mail fraud law.

If you were doing either of these things, you could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00 for each offense you were found guilty of committing.  I tell you, breaking any federal law is a terrible idea, they do not mess around with punishing people.

So, yes, you can send cash through the mail.  You can send any amount of cash you want through the mail, but the United States Postal Service will insure mailed cash only up to an amount of $50,000.00.

One of the main reasons that lawyers exist is to make sure things happen how they are supposed to happen.  So, I would be remiss to pass up the opportunity to tell you that sending any appreciable amount of cash through the mail is a terrible idea.  For goodness sakes, send a check.  Nowadays, the best way to transfer money to someone else may be through an online service such as Venmo or PayPal.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.