Banking Category Banking: the easy, simple banking guide

Is it legal to put cash in a safety deposit box?

A safety deposit box, also known as a safe deposit box, is a personal physical space inside a bank's vault that customers can rent to store valuables.

Safety deposit boxes vary in size, and customers generally can use them to store whatever valuables they wish.

There are no laws against keeping cash in a safe deposit box. But laws can change, so talk with a lawyer if you need legal advice.

Safety Deposit Rights

Safety deposit boxes can serve as a substitute for people burying cash in the yard or hiding it under the mattress. Some people like knowing they have cash available in the safe place.

The fear that keeping cash in a safe deposit is illegal is a common concern, although unfounded. The IRS does require you to report cash income just like any other, but that does not prohibit you from keeping cash in a safe deposit box.

Bank Limitations

Banks have the right to limit your ability to use safety deposit boxes. Even if a bank offers these boxes, it can impose restrictions on their use.

For example, banks may require that you place can only specific kinds of property in the box, or restrict the times when you have access to the vault. Also, you pay the bank for the right to use space in the vault, meaning you must pay rent or risk losing your safe deposit privileges.


Unlike regular bank accounts, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation does not protect safe deposit boxes.

If your bank burns down, destroying the cash in your safety deposit box, the FDIC does not have to reimburse you for your loss. If you kept the money in a standard bank account, on the other hand, the FDIC would insure it.

Other Concerns

People who use safe deposit boxes often do so to store valuable documents, family heirlooms or other items they cannot replace. However, when you rent a safe deposit box, you pay the bank for the right to use the space for a specific time. The bank has the right to charge you rent. If you fail to pay, it can transfer items in the unpaid box to the state as unclaimed property.

Many people who place valuables in a safe deposit box take out insurance against loss or damage. Floods, fires and other natural disasters can destroy the contents of a box like anything else. Insuring against such a loss is common.