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Claim Form for Seized Assets

If your property was seized by a federal agency, the only way to challenge the seizure is to file a verified claim for court action. Filing a timely claim stops the administrative forfeiture proceeding. It requires the agency that seized the asset to forward the claim to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for further proceedings.

Click here to download a sample claim form for assets seized for forfeiture.

The forms sent by some federal agencies are intentionally misleading because they do not provide any space to describe the asset or explain the claimant’s interest in the seized property.

Although you do not necessarily need an attorney to file a claim, the requirements are so complicated that most people would benefit from hiring a good attorney to represent them in filing a claim and negotiating the return of the property.

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2)(D), the claim need not be made in any particular form, although it must meet the requirements listed in 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2)(C) which require:

  • a description of the seized property;
  • an explanation of your ownership or other interest in the property; and
  • the claimannt’s signature under oath, subject to the penalty of perjury (or otherwise meeting the requirements of an unsworn statement under penalty of perjury).

Although the agency that seized the asset might encourage you to file a petition for remission or mitigation, read more about why those procedures rarely work. Failure to file a claim by the deadline date will result in the property being forfeited to the United States.

How to File the Claim for Assets Seized for Forfeiture

To file the claim, you must deliver it to the agency that gave notice of the seizure and intent to forfeit at the appropriate address which is listed in the personal notice that should be mailed to you or the address listed on the notice posted online on the forfeiture.gov website.

You do NOT have to wait for 60 days after the seizure to receive the notice BEFORE filing the claim. In fact, you can file a premature claim immediately after the seizure.

The claim must be sent to the notifying agency’s address which is identified within the notice. For some agencies, like Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the claim will be sent to one of their regional offices. For other agencies, like DEA, the claim is sent to one location at the DEA headquarters.

The claim can be “filed’ online, by mail through the  U.S. Postal Service, or by a commercial delivery service such as UPS or FedEx. Keep in mind that the claim is not actually “filed” until it is received by the agency (in their hand).

Strict timeline exists for filing the claim. For example, 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(2) requires that if you actually receive the personal notice, then you must file the claim by the deadline listed in the notice. Otherwise, the notice posted online contains the deadline to file the verified claim.


Additional Resources

Filing a Claim for Property Seized for Forfeiture – Visit the forfeiture.gov website to find out more about the process to make a claim for any asset seized for forfeiture by any federal agency including ATF, DEA, CBP, HSI, FBI, IRS, USSS, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

ATF’s Claim Form for Seized Property – Visit the website of (ATF) to download a claim form that can be used to challenge the legality of the ATF seizing property for forfeiture.


This article was last updated on Friday, October 22, 2021.

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