Airport Hand Baggage and Security Rules

Since 2006 airport security rules have been tightened with regard to passengers' hand baggage and items (liquids and electronic equipment) that may be taken onboard. See this page for the current restrictions on flights in the EU, UK, US, and more...

Airport security procedures are continually enhanced and altered in countries and airports worldwide. These most impact passengers with regard security check in procedures and carry-on luggage: how many bags per person and restrictions on items that may be taken on board. Travellers are recommended to check with their airline for advice on security requirements (most airline websites have clear luggage guidelines) and look out for all notices at airports.

Many airports worldwide are investigating or planning for the introduction of full body scanners to detect items hidden in the body and clothes.

Here is information and links on hand baggage and liquid restrictions relevant to flights from and in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and Singapore.

European Union (EU) Hand Luggage Rules and Restrictions

Rules introduced 6 November 2006: To protect passengers against the threat of liquid explosives, the European Union (EU) security rules restrict the amount of liquids that can be taken through security checkpoints.

This applies to all passengers departing from airports in the EU regardless of the destination. This means that, at security checkpoints, both passengers and hand luggage must be checked for liquids in addition to other prohibited articles.

  • Liquids may be carried in luggage that is checked in to the hold
  • Medicines and dietary requirements, including baby foods, for use during the trip may be carried in hand luggage. Proof may be requested
  • Liquids such as drinks and perfumes may be bought either in an EU airport shop when located beyond the security check or on board an aircraft operated by an EU airline

Note: If liquids are sold in a special sealed bag, do not open it before being screened, otherwise the contents may be confiscated at the checkpoint. (If transferring at an EU airport, do not open the bag before screening at the airport of transfer, or at the last one if there is to be more than one transfer).

The rules apply at all airports in the EU and in Albania, Croatia, Iceland, Kosovo, Norway and Switzerland until further notice.

While packing

Only small quantities of liquids may be taken in hand luggage. These liquids must be in individual containers with a maximum capacity of 100 millilitres each. These containers must be packed in one transparent, re-sealable plastic bag of not more than one litre capacity per passenger.

At the airport

To help security screeners detect liquids, passengers must:

  • Present all liquids carried to the staff at security checkpoints for examination
  • Take off jacket and/or coat which is screened separately
  • Remove laptop computers and other large electrical devices from hand luggage for separate screening

News and press releases

Up-to-date information on security procedures and details on restrictions on hand luggage, is available from the European Commission Transport division.

United Kingdom

Security procedures in the UK vary between airports, some allowing passengers to carry two items of hand luggage and others allowing only one. In addition, certain airlines only permit a passenger to have one item of hand luggage, regardless of the airport's ruling.

No liquids may be taken on board unless they adhere to the EU rulings: liquids must be in individual containers with a maximum capacity of 100 millilitres each. These containers must be packed in one transparent, re-sealable plastic bag of not more than one litre capacity per passenger.

  • Up-to-date information on security procedures and details on restrictions on hand luggage, is available from the UK government website: Click here
  • The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) regularly updates its travel advice for Britons travelling worldwide: Click here
United States of America

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regularly updates and publishes guidelines on security requirements for international US flights. There are prohibitions on bringing in certain items, and restrictions on the liquids that may be carried on board.

Guidelines on liquids are expressed in the 3-1-1 rule for carry-ons: each passenger may only carry on liquids in maximum bottle sizes of 3.4 ounce (100ml) all contained in one single clear, plastic, zip-top bag of one-quart (about 1 litre) capacity. Larger quantities of liquids must be declared. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk may be carried on board in larger quantities but must be declared and examined.

No major changes to standard procedure were introduced following the attempted terror attack of 25 December 2009, however passengers flying to or in the US could expect the following additional security measures:

  • Body pat-down security checks
  • Limit to one piece of carry on hand luggage with limit to liquids that can be carried on board
  • Restrictions on leaving the seat in the final hour of the flight (unless accompanied by airplane staff)

Always check security guidelines with the airline before flying (information is usually available on an airline's website).

Canada

The Canadian Transport Department website has much information on the security measures and hand baggage rulings for passengers.

  • For a list of dangerous goods which may not be taken onboard: Click here
Australia

Australia has limits on the amount of liquid (including gel and aerosol) that may be carried by passengers on international flights either leaving or entering the country.

  • Up-to-date information from the Department of Transport and Regional Services: Click here
Singapore

Singapore's Changi Airport website has current information on security

  • For general travel and safety guidelines: Click here
  • For restrictions on hand luggage and liquids: Click here
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