Hand luggage

Hand luggage restrictions at UK airports

There are Hand luggage restrictions on what items you can take in both your hand luggage and hold luggage when boarding a plane in the UK.

There are different rules if you’re taking goods to sell or temporarily abroad for business reasons, for example sales samples, professional equipment or musical instruments for a performance.

Airport security staff won’t let anything through that they consider dangerous - even if it’s normally allowed in hand luggage.

Hand luggage allowances

Check with your airline how many and what size bags you can take on the plane with you.

Electronic Items

Hand luggage restrictions depend on which country you are travelling to or from.

Check with your airline before you travel if you’re not sure about what you can take as hand luggage.

You must put all phones, laptops, tablets and ereaders - and some accessories that can be used with them - in your hold luggage if they’re larger than any of these measurements:

  • 16cm in length
  • 9.3cm in width
  • 1.5cm in depth (thickness).

You must also check the size of the following accessories:

  • keyboards
  • power supplies and transformers
  • external hard drives

You can’t take any of these accessories or devices in your hand luggage if they’re larger than these measurements, even if you bought them at the airport (for example, at a duty free shop).

You can’t take any spare batteries or portable power sources in your hand or hold luggage if they’re larger than these measurements and could be used with a phone, laptop, tablet or ereader.

You can still take other accessories, such as headphones, in your hand luggage.

You must also follow these rules if you’re on a connecting flight via these countries, even if your journey started elsewhere.


All Electronic cigarettes must be carried in hand luggage as they contain a battery.  The liquid element must be detached and included as a liquid, see restrictions below.


You can usually take camera equipment in your hand and hold luggage. There might be Hand luggage restrictions on specialist equipment, for example professional video cameras

Make sure your devices are charged

Make sure your electronic devices are charged before you travel. If your device doesn’t switch on when requested, you won’t be allowed to take it onto the aircraft.

Gas-powered hair curlers

You can take hair curlers containing a gas cartridge in checked or hand luggage as long as the safety cover is fitted at all times. You must not take separate gas cartridges on board.


Razors that have the blade set into a plastic moulding are allowed in hand baggage, but other types are not.

Taking liquids through security

There are restrictions on the amount of liquids you can take in your hand luggage. If possible, pack liquids in your hold baggage (luggage that you check in).

Liquids include:

  • all drinks, including water
  • liquid or semi-liquid foods, for example soup, jam, honey and syrups
  • cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, mascara and lip gloss
  • sprays, including shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants
  • pastes, including toothpaste
  • gels, including hair and shower gel
  • contact lens solution
  • any other solutions and items of similar consistency

If you do take liquids in your hand luggage:

  • containers must hold no more than 100ml
  • containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm
  • contents must fit comfortably inside the bag so it can be sealed
  • the bag must not be knotted or tied at the top
  • you’re limited to 1 plastic bag per person
  • you must show the bag at the airport security point

Liquids in containers larger than 100ml generally can’t go through security even if the container is only part full. There are some exemptions.


Essential medicines and medical equipment

You’re allowed to carry essential medicines of more than 100ml in your hand luggage, including liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers.

You’ll need supporting documentation from a relevant medical professional (for example a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription). The same applies for gel packs.

Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security point.

Essential medical equipment

You can take medical equipment with you if it’s essential for your journey.

The equipment is screened separately and you must show documentation from a qualified medical professional, such as a letter from your doctor.

Item Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Tablets and capsules Yes Yes
Essential liquid medicines Yes Yes
Hypodermic syringes Yes Yes
Inhalers Yes Yes
Cooling gel packs Yes Yes
Medical equipment (for example CPAP and TENS machines) Yes Yes
Oxygen cylinders Contact your airline Contact your airline

 Baby food or baby milk - 

When travelling with a baby you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water for the journey. In some cases this will be over 100ml.

You can carry breast milk in hand luggage even if you’re not travelling with a baby. You can’t carry frozen breast milk in hand luggage.

Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml. Each container will need to be screened at the security point. Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids.

Item Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Breast milk Yes, in containers up to 2,000ml Yes
Frozen breast milk No Yes
Formula milk, cow’s milk Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Sterilised water for the baby Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Soya milk for babies Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Baby food Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Cooling gel packs Yes Yes

You can also take liquids bought at an airport or on a plane (such as duty free) through security if:

  • the items are sealed inside a security bag when you buy them
  • the receipt for the items is sealed in the security bag and visible

You must not open the security bag until you reach your final destination. Airport staff may need to open the items to screen the liquid at the security point.


You can only carry 1 lighter on board. You should put it inside a resealable plastic bag (like the ones used for liquids), which you must keep on you throughout the flight. You can’t:

  • put it in your hold luggage
  • put it in your hand luggage after screening

Sports equipment

Item Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Sports parachute Yes Yes
Bat, racquet or sports stick No Yes
Snooker, pool or billiard cue No Yes
Golf clubs No Yes
Darts No Yes
Walking/hiking poles No Yes
Fishing rod No Yes
Catapult No Yes
Firearms (including replica firearms) No Check with your airline before you travel
Harpoon or spear gun No Yes
Crossbow No Yes
Martial arts equipment (including knuckledusters, clubs, coshes, rice flails and nunchuks) No Yes
Diving equipment Check with your airline before you travel Check with your airline before you travel

Work tools

Item Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Tool with a blade or shaft longer than 6cm (for example chisel) No Yes
Drill and drill bits No Yes
Stanley knife No Yes
Saw (including portable power saw) No Yes
Screwdriver No Yes
Hammer No Yes
Pliers No Yes
Wrench or spanner No Yes
Bolt gun or nail gun No Yes
Crowbar No Yes
Blowtorch No Yes

Chemicals and toxic substances

You can’t take any of these items as hand luggage or in the hold:

  • oxidisers and organic peroxides, including bleach and car body repair kits
  • acids and alkalis (for example spillable ‘wet’ batteries)
  • corrosives or bleaching agents (including mercury and chlorine)
  • vehicle batteries and fuel systems
  • self defence or disabling sprays (for example mace, pepper spray)
  • radioactive materials (including medicinal or commercial isotopes)
  • poisons or toxic substances (for example rat poison)
  • biological hazards (for example infected blood, bacteria, viruses)
  • materials that could spontaneously combust (burst into flames)
  • fire extinguishers


You can’t take any guns or firearms (including air rifles and starting pistols) as hand luggage. You may be able to take them as hold luggage - check with your airline before you travel.

You can’t take any of these items as hand luggage or in the hold:

  • blasting caps
  • detonators and fuses
  • imitation explosive devices (including replica or model guns)
  • mines, grenades, and other explosive military stores
  • fireworks and pyrotechnics
  • smoke canisters
  • smoke cartridges
  • dynamite
  • gunpowder
  • plastic explosives (including black powder and percussion caps)
  • flares
  • hand grenades
  • gun cigarette lighters

Meat and Dairy Products

If you travel to the EU from a non-EU country, you are not allowed to bring any meat or dairy products with you.  You can however bring a limited quantity of fruit and vegetables as well as eggs, egg products and honey.  Restricted quantities of fish or fish products are also allowed.

When arriving in the EU you may have to undergo official controls by the authorities. If you are carrying any meat or dairy products, which you have not declared they will be confiscated and destroyed, you may also be fined or face criminal prosecution.



0 # Knocker knowles 2020-07-08 23:18
Very enlightening, have travelled for over 45 years, and I'm a lot clearer on what can and can't be taken on board, the only caveat I have is, how much hand gel can now be taken in hand lugg
age, on top of normal limits?,
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0 # Derek 2020-07-14 13:57
I don't think that has changed
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0 # Andrew 2019-07-04 20:38
Straightforward and easy to understand, there’s no room for confusion or misunderstanding. Thanks.
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0 # Jill Shail 2019-07-04 20:43
Your very welcome Andrew. We always try to keep our information up to date and easy to understand for people. One of the reasons we have the website x
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0 # Sara Barrass 2019-04-07 11:39
So we have chosen to only take hand luggage you know the see through bags ya get at the airport do you have to put all your makeup/perfume an toiletries in that one bag ? We are so confused
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0 # Admin 2019-04-07 11:40
yes any liquids 100ml and below can be taken in hand luggage but need to be places in the plastic bags to get through security x
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0 # Sara Barrass 2019-04-07 11:41
thankyou its proper blagging our heads
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0 # Sara Barrass 2019-04-07 11:41
are we allowed only one plastic bag ? Or can we have more ??
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0 # Admin 2019-04-07 11:43
one each, up to 1000mls, so 10 items, if you can fit them in lol
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