Can You Bring Desktop Computers in Checked and Hand Luggage?

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There are multiple reasons why you might need to take a desktop computer with you when you travel. Whatever your reason is, you’re probably wondering if you can bring desktop computers in your checked luggage.

This article will talk about bringing personal (desktop) computers in checked luggage and hand luggage, or whether it’s a better idea to ship them instead. You’ll also learn how to pack desktop computers checked luggage.

Can You Bring Desktop Computers in Checked Luggage?

According to their website, the TSA (Transport Security Agency) says you can bring desktop computers in checked luggage. However, it comes with a few challenges as well. The first is packing it securely enough so it won’t break during transport, especially if you’re bringing the monitor as well. You want your things to arrive in one piece without worrying about the damages they might incur during the flight.

The second is ensuring that it won’t get stolen during the flight or snatched from the baggage carousel before you can get to it. It isn’t a scenario that’s very likely to happen but you want to be sure just in case.

Read Next: Can You Bring External Monitors on Planes?

Can You Bring Desktop Computers in Hand Luggage?

TSA’s website states that you can bring desktop computers in carry-on bags. In fact, it’s much safer than bringing it in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about it getting thrown accidentally or getting damaged during the flight.

You are, however, required to remove it from your carry-on bag and place it in a separate bin when you go through the x-ray screening. Think of it as a laptop or tablet. You are also required to follow the same procedure. If you’re worried that the x-ray machine might damage your hard drive, it won’t! Laptops and tablets also go through the same screening process all the time, so you don’t need to worry about your data being at risk.

Can Airport Security (TSA) Check the Data on Your Desktop Computer?

If TSA thinks you’re carrying suspicious contents, they might have you undergo a special kind of screening. Yes, this could include even checking the data on your desktop computer. It’s just as if you’re carrying a laptop or a hard drive and TSA flags something about you as suspicious. It’s the same if you’re carrying a desktop computer and think you need further inspection.

Nevertheless, many people have traveled back and forth and around the world on personal trips and business trips. A lot of them have carried laptops, tablets, and even desktop computers and loads of data in hard drives, but they haven’t been stopped by airport security yet.

As long as you’re carrying things like work files, photos, and other things that are otherwise deemed to be safe, then you shouldn’t have any difficulty carrying your things through airport security. And even if an airport security personnel were to stop you, if you know that you aren’t carrying any illegal items on your computer on your desktop, then you should be fine as well.

Tip: If you have to check in your desktop computer, store all of your data in a hard drive and pack it inside your carry-on. If your checked luggage gets lost, you’ll have a backup. If you don’t already own one, consider getting a durable travel hard drive.

What’s Better – Bringing a Desktop Computer in Checked Luggage or Shipping It With a Courier (FedEx)?

While bringing a desktop in checked luggage can be a quick solution if it wasn’t something you expected to bring, it can be a bit of a hassle too. You’ll have to make sure that it fits into the bag you’re bringing, and you’ll have to secure it as much as you can to avoid as much damage as possible during transport. You also have to make sure that it won’t weigh more than the baggage allowance you have or you’ll find yourself having to pay extra.

Instead of lugging your desktop computer all the way with you to the airport, you might want to consider shipping it with a courier instead. That way, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your desktop might get damaged during the flight. It also lessens the chances that someone might chance upon your luggage and think it has something worth stealing. Shipping it out with a courier might be a little more expensive, but it’s less of a hassle.

Shipping couriers like FedEx can help you pack your desktop computer properly to minimize the risk of damage due to improper packaging. Plus, you can have it arranged to be delivered to your doorstep directly so you don’t need to lug it around the airport. You will also be given a reference number so you can track where your desktop computer is all the time.

Do You Have to Pay Customs for Bringing Desktop Computers Back Home in Luggage?

A close-up of a personal computer

Unless you’re bringing three or more desktop computers, you most likely won’t be asked to pay the customs tax. Customs usually regulate things like alcohol, perfumes, and other things that might be subject to certain taxes, depending on your destination country. They also look for any items that you aren’t bringing for personal use, for which you’ll need to pay additional VAT or import tax.

If you’re bringing a couple of desktop computers, there shouldn’t be any problems, but if you’re bringing more than two, you might be approached for further questioning and you might even have to pay some taxes. Of course, it’s best to check with the country where you’re going first.

Tips on Safely Packing a Desktop Computer in Checked Luggage

If you have absolutely no choice but to bring a desktop computer in your checked luggage, you can take some measures to ensure its safety so that it arrives all in one piece when you reach your final destination.

Consider Packing Your Desktop Computer in a Box

Checked luggage has a limit of 62 linear inches (length + width + height). If you’re bringing both the monitor and pc, there’s a chance that it might not fit in your suitcase, especially if your suitcase is shaped the way most suitcases are shaped. That’s why you might want to pack it in a durable cardboard box instead, with plenty of bubble wrap inside and outside.

Disassemble Your Computer

Even if you do get your items safely into a box, it might go beyond the weight limit allowed by the airlines. Disassembling your computer allows you to remove certain parts of your computer so you can distribute them among your other bags which in turn reduces the weight of your checked baggage.

Backup Your Files

In case you don’t want to disassemble your desktop computer, but you have important files inside, keep a backup on a hard drive. You might also want to consider uploading your most important documents and sending a copy to yourself or even putting them into cloud storage. This is just to ensure that you have a backup in case your desktop computer does break.

Use Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts provide that extra layer of padding so your computer doesn’t move around so much. You can stuff your suitcase or box full of clothes, but it might make your things too heavy. Packing peanuts are the lighter option and they do get the job done and provide the cushioning that your desktop computer needs while in transport.

Label Your Suitcase as Fragile

When you get to the check-in counter, ask the airport staff to label your suitcase or box as fragile. They will most likely ask what is inside and you can tell them that you are bringing a desktop computer. Usually, they will give you a big red sticker that says “FRAGILE”, but even this can be missed in the rush of loading and unloading all the luggage onto the plane. You might also want to consider getting insurance to cover any damages.

Use a Gps Tracker

If you’re packing your desktop computer in checked luggage, consider purchasing a GPS tracker. This device will let you know exactly where your suitcase is at all takes, which will be especially handy if it gets lost or stolen.

Final Words

There’s nothing keeping you from taking your desktop computer in your carry-on or checked-in luggage. TSA won’t stop you and the customs won’t tax you unless you’re bringing multiple desktops not intended for personal use. The biggest problem you have to face is security and safety. Desktop computers tend to be big and bulky, whether you take them with you on your carry-on or decide to check them in. You also need to stay within the size and weight limits.

If you can, it’s probably a better idea to ship it with a shipping courier. If not, pack it inside a carry-on, and if that still doesn’t work, then your last resort should be to check it in. Remember to pack it safely and to back up your documents especially if you have files on your desktop computer. That way, no matter what happens, you’ll be able to access and retrieve your files. While damages and theft don’t happen to every person checking in a desktop computer, it’s better to be on the safe side. After all, you never know!

Other Frequently Asked Questions

We get questions about bringing stuff on planes all the time. So we’ve written a lot of other guides, where we answer the most commonly asked questions.

You can check them out over here:

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