How to Use Bearer Instruments for Privacy

History of Bearer Instruments

Money was always a bearer instrument until recently. Banks started out as gold bullion dealers who provided receipts for gold that was deposited with them. These receipts could be made out to pay the ‘bearer.’ They were the first banknotes. It was much easier than carrying large amounts of gold or silver coins. The most trusted bullion dealers went on to become banks.

The original US dollar was 1/20th of an ounce of gold. The British pound sterling was a pound of silver. Other forms of money have been used over the centuries. Salt and seashells have been used as money in the distant past.

More recently, we have had Bearer Bonds. Bonds were issued by governments without recording the details of the owner. These were used as bearer instruments of exchange. The US Treasury issued Bearer Bonds up until 1982. All governments around the world stopped issuing bearer bonds because of money laundering and the desire to have more control over citizens.

Today choices of bearer instruments are more limited. They still exist, though. Today we need to be a bit more creative.

Here’s a list of just a few of the things that are regularly used as bearer instruments:

Bearer Shares

Bearer Shares were once common. The individual who had possession of the shares was the owner. Ownership could be transferred easily. Governments and bureaucrats hated this as they had no way to discover who owned which assets. It was difficult to figure out how to tax people or confiscate their assets under money laundering rules.

Bearer Shares are still possible. They disappeared from the US when Nevada abolished them in 2007. Several countries still allow bearer instruments to be issued in the form of shares, though. Panama is one example. Most countries that still allow bearer shares insist that the registered agent knows the real ownership.

Casino Chips

Casino chips can be used as bearer instruments. You can buy chips at a casino, hold them, and redeem them or use them at some later date. Each casino has different rules for redemption, though. There may be a time limit on redeeming them. They’ll also want to see your ID when you go to redeem the chips. Not the most ideal of the bearer instruments but still worth a mention.

Lottery Tickets

A winning lottery ticket is a kind of bearer instrument. Until it’s cashed, it’s completely anonymous. It’s important to check the rules here too. Most lottery tickets expire if the prize goes unclaimed for a few months.


Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are a new form of bearer instruments. You can easily transfer large amounts of cryptocurrency around the world without the inconvenience of doing the same transaction with banks. Cashing cryptocurrencies out for cash may be more problematic as major exchanges will demand identification. You can use services like Local Bitcoins to cash out anonymously for cash. Bitcoin transactions are stored forever on the blockchain. If anonymity is important to you, use more anonymous cryptos like Monero.

Physical Cash

Physical cash is still one of the best bearer instruments. It’s accepted in most places, and it’s completely anonymous. The only time you’ll have a problem with physical cash is by taking large quantities over international borders. Most countries have a maximum limit of around $10,000 for carrying ash over borders. Amounts of more than this must be declared.

Gold and Silver

Gold and silver coins are bearer instruments. What’s more, they hold their value over time better than any other asset class. You can buy the same goods and services with gold today as you could have done 200 years ago. Storage is an issue with gold. It’s not a good idea to keep it at home or in a bank. You must find more creative solutions for safe gold storage. We go into detail on this in Bullet Proof Asset Protection.


NFTs are non-fungible tokens. People are buying and selling digital artworks and other assets in online marketplaces. The ownership is registered on the blockchain, like Bitcoin. Different types of NFTs are being created.  Some are backed by physical assets. Others have more tangible value, such as internet domain names. NFTs are a fast-moving market worth exploring further.

Traveler’s Cheques

Traveler’s Cheques were the main method of paying for things abroad in the 70s and 80s. They’re less common now. But they’re still available. They can be useful bearer instruments for small transactions.

Works of Art

Valuable works of art are perhaps the ultimate bearer instruments. Works of art can be valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Ownership of these assets can be transferred instantly. Drug kingpin Pablo Escobar is known to have owned works of art by Botero and Picasso.

Gift Vouchers and Prepaid Debit Cards

For small transactions, gift vouchers and pre-paid debit cards can serve as bearer instruments. Many people will be happy to accept gift cards in payment for goods and services. They can also be easily sold for cash through online auction sites like eBay

All of the above are bearer instruments examples. There are other types of bearer assets. Even tobacco can be used as a low-level tool of exchange in certain circumstances. What you decide to use as a bearer instrument is open to imagination. Anything that can be easily traded can be used as a bearer instrument.

Is cash a bearer instrument?

Yes, cash is a bearer instrument. Ownership of cash transfers as soon as you use it.

What is a bearer and order instrument?

A bearer instrument does not have any named beneficiary. Cash is a bearer instrument. Gold is a bearer instrument. An order, on the other hand, generally is made out to a named individual or entity.

Bullet Proof Asset Protection

Find out more about Bearer Instruments and protecting your assets in Bullet Proof Asset Protection. You will discover:


Create asset protection structures so strong that even the most determined creditor or government can’t break them.

The new secret offshore accounts.

How to legally avoid the Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

Which countries are still outside the Common Reporting Standard?

How to find out if your offshore accounts are being reported to your home tax authorities.

How to Set up your own charity for asset protection.

How to legally avoid almost all taxes.

Make Millions by Becoming a Philanthropist

How to Create a Hybrid-Numbered Account

How to Use Precious Metals for Anonymity

Which Countries Have Voluntary Secrecy Under CRS

A 10-Step Plan for Financial Privacy

Using Charities for Privacy and Tax Avoidance – How you can use the same strategies as Bill Gates and the Rothschilds

How an easy-to-obtain new citizenship can guarantee your financial privacy