Can you bring spices on a plane?

You can pack dried spices in your carry on bags as well as your checked luggage, but you may need to check customs rules of the country you are flying to.

Taking spices on a plane

Carrying spices on domestic and international flights

Whether you're traveling overseas and want to take you favorite spices with you to do a little cooking, or you simply want to bring home a few special ingredients from your destination, you can usually bring spices on an airplane.

As always, there are some caveats and local rules that you should be aware of. But, for the vast majority of people who simply want to carry spices like chili powder or other ground spices in small quantities, there is no issue taking them on a plane.

Personally, I pack dry spices into checked luggage whenever possible as it is the best option. This is what I will be doing when I fly to Iceland for my bicycle tour there, as I'll want some spices such as chili peppers and cardamon seeds to add some flavor to my camping meals.

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Buying spices when on vacation to take back home

Differences Between Dried And Wet Spices

One thing you should be aware of, is that dried and wet spices are counted differently when it comes to carry on.

Wet spices would be treated like any other liquid item, meaning it would need to go in a clear plastic bag and meet the Transportation Security Administration 3-1-1 rule (3.4 ounces or less per container; 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag; 1 bag per passenger).

Dried spices can be brought on in any amount as long as it is in a container that can be screened and is not greater than the airline's limit for maximum carry-on size.

Note: Don't be surprised that if you are carrying anything that TSA agents at the security checkpoint think is unusual, they may do a more thorough inspection. This might apply to very large containers with spices inside, but regular spice jars will barely be given a consideration.

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Practicalities Of Packing Spices In Carry On Luggage

Of course, there's other practicalities involved in bringing spices on a plane beyond what you are allowed to do!

Consideration for your fellow passengers should be taken as well to prevent a potentially smelly and messy situation. If you plan on carrying spices in your carry-on luggage, make sure that the containers are tightly sealed. You might have just fallen in love with some exotic Indian spices, but it's not ok to smell the whole plane up with your purchase.

This doesn't just apply to carry on baggage. If you want to pack spices in your checked bags, you want to do it in a way that they are properly contained and can't spill out onto the other items in your luggage.

If you've seen the way that baggage handlers throw around checked luggage, you'll realize the importance of having your spices secure. You don't want your clothes covered in curry powder!

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Taking Spices Past Airport Security

Taking food items such as dried herbs and powder spices through airport security is allowed in most cases. As mentioned, liquid spices will be treated as liquids when it comes to hand luggage.

TSA officers may ask you to present your items for further inspection as part of the security process. If this happens, just follow their instructions and be patient. In most cases, after close examination of your spices, they will allow you to take it on board.

According to TSA guidelines: “Powder-like substances over 12 oz. or 350mL in carry-on that cannot be resolved at the central checkpoint will not be allowed onto the cabin of the aircraft and will be disposed of. For your convenience, place powders in your checked bag.”

This basically means that if a powder can not be identified when scanning carry-on luggage, they may confiscate it. Therefore it makes the most sense to pack large containers of spices in checked baggage.

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Research Customs Rules Of Your Destination Country

When travelling with spices on domestic and international flights, you should always check the customs rules of your destination country before packing them. In some countries, there may be restrictions on which types of spices can be brought in or the quantity that is allowed without a permit.

This is because while you were able to leave one country without any issues, you may be stopped at customs when trying to enter another foreign country. Doing your research in advance can save a lot of time and headache when travelling with spices. The worst case scenario, is that larger quantities of spices, or anything not deemed for personal use, may be subject to a tax of confiscation.

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Wrapping up

Sure you can take spices on a plane! Make sure to double check the TSA's rules and regulations for the country you are travelling to. Additionally, many airports have restrictions that go beyond TSA policies in regards to spices, so it's important to check before packing them in your carry-on or checked luggage.

Related: International Travel Checklist

Fresh Spices And Flights FAQ

Some of the most frequently asked questions about taking spices on flights include:

How much spices can I bring on a plane?

Yes, you can take spices on a plane in both carry on and checked luggage.

Can you bring seasonings through customs?

Yes, you can bring seasonings through customs. However, it is important to be aware of the customs rules and regulations of your destination country before packing them.

What spices can I carry to USA?

When travelling to the United States, there are a variety of spices that you can bring with you in either your carry-on or checked luggage. However, it is important to consider the TSA regulations and customs rules for the destination country in order to avoid any issues.

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