Laws on carrying pepper spray on airlines

Written by kristin colleen
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Laws on carrying pepper spray on airlines
It's illegal to bring pepper spray as a carry-on. (aeroplane image by Clarence Alford from

It is a federal crime to bring pepper spray on an aeroplane either on your person or in carry-on bags. It is considered a prohibited item under Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, and attempting to conceal it during security screenings can lead to hefty fines or imprisonment. However, the TSA and FAA allow pepper spray to be transported in checked luggage if certain conditions are met.


One 118ml (118) ml container of pepper spray per passenger is permitted in checked (not carry-on) baggage, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Key chain, lipstick and purse- and pocket-sized pepper sprays often used for personal self-defence can be purchased in canisters as small as 14.8ml. But even small amounts of pepper spray cannot be brought with you on the plane; they must be packed in your checked luggage.


Make sure your spray has a safety mechanism or lock before you pack it in your checked luggage. This will help prevent it from discharging accidentally during transport and while being inspected by TSA personnel. The FAA requires that all hazardous materials be declared, so notify airline personnel when you check in.


Some brands of pepper spray (often marketed as "double-action" or "triple action" sprays) combine pepper spray with tear gas. Sprays cannot contain more than two per cent by mass of a tear gas substance, also known as chloroacetophenone (CN) or 0-chlorobenzylmalonitrile (CS). If your pepper spray contains more than two per cent tear gas, leave it at home.

Airline Regulations

Check with your airline before your trip. Following TSA and FAA regulations is not a guarantee that pepper spray can be brought in checked luggage. Several airlines (including Delta, American and United) prohibit pepper spray, even in checked baggage.

Local Laws

Pepper spray is legal in the Unites States (although local ordinances vary and may restrict certain sizes and types of spray). However, pepper spray is outlawed for use by civilians in other countries. Several Western European countries (including Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), Canada, Australia and Japan are some countries that prohibit pepper spray. Be sure to check the laws of all your destinations to see if you can legally bring pepper spray with you on your trip.

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