Flights in the USA (Regulated by TSA and FAA)
In general, GPS devices are allowed in hand and checked luggage on flights in the United States. Passengers traveling with personal locator beacons, and satellite messengers will have to contact their airline to learn if they can travel with them.
Flights in Canada (Regulated by CATSA)
In Canadian flights, GPS devices are accepted both in carry-on and checked baggage.
Flights in Europe (Regulated by IATA and EASA)
Not specified, but some European airlines ask passengers to report any GPS tracking devices in carry-on and cargo luggage and even limit the use of certain brands. It’s also recommended to keep electronic devices on the carry-on luggage.
Flights in the United Kingdom (Regulated by CAA)
United Kingdom authorities don’t mention GPS devices in the prohibited items list, so it’s safe to assume they are welcome both on carry-on and checked luggage. But, many airlines ask for GPS transmitting and receiving devices to be off during the flight.
Flights in Australia (Regulated by CASA)
GPS devices are permitted on carry-on on Australian flights. It’s not specified whether GPS devices are allowed in checked baggage, but overall, it’s always recommended to keep electronics in the carry-on baggage.
Flights in New Zealand (Regulated by CAA)
GPS devices are allowed on flights in New Zealand in a carry-on, but they should be turned off during the entire flight. It isn’t specified if GPS devices are allowed in checked baggage, but airlines recommend that most battery-operated electronic devices travel in hand baggage.
Flights in China (Regulated by CAAC)
GPS devices aren’t specifically mentioned, but some airlines prohibit radio frequency items like walkie-talkies. GPS trackers, personal locator beacons, and satellite messengers also use radio frequencies to transmit and receive information which means their transportation and use are restricted on flights in China.
Flights in India (Regulated by AAI)
India’s authorities aren’t specific about the transportation of other GPS devices in hand and checked suitcases but satellite phones and messengers are banned from flights in India. Passengers traveling with GPS phones need to declare it to Customs when entering the country and have a special permit to use it.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring GPS devices onboard airplanes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing GPS Devices on Planes
Can I bring disposable battery-powered GPS devices on planes? (AA, AAA, etc.)
Travelers can bring battery-powered GPS devices on flights to the United States. Both GPS devices and dry batteries (AA, AAA, C, and D) are welcome on board in carry-on and checked baggage. Still, it’s best practice to pack electronic devices in your carry-on suitcase.
Can I bring rechargeable GPS devices with lithium batteries on planes?
You can bring rechargeable GPS devices with lithium batteries in hand and checked luggage on planes from United States airlines with certain limitations. A GPS lithium battery shouldn’t have a battery with more than 100 watts and it should travel in a carry-on preferably. If traveling in a checked bag, it should be turned off and safely packed. Plus, if packed in a carry-on, it should always be charged when going through security in case the security agents need to make sure that it’s working and isn’t damaged.
Are GPS trackers allowed in luggage?
GPS trackers are TSA compliant and are allowed to fly in any type of luggage in the United States, but travelers should check with each airline to learn about possible restrictions.
Can I use my GPS device during the flight?
Overall, you can use GPS devices during flights in the United States, but some airlines might limit their use to certain moments of the flight.
Do I need to take out my GPS device when going through security?
You should take your GPS device out of your luggage if it’s larger than a cellphone when going through United States airport security. Smaller GPS devices like luggage trackers might be subject to additional inspection too.
Is it better to pack GPS navigation devices in hand or checked luggage?
It’s recommended to pack GPS navigation devices in hand luggage when traveling to the United States. Generally, most airlines recommend packing electronics in hand luggage. That way they are not damaged during the trip and there is a minor risk of incidents with the battery of the device.
Are personal locator beacons and satellite messengers allowed on planes (Garmin, Spot, ACR, etc.)?
Personal locator beacons and satellite messengers aren’t banned from flights in the United States, but they might not be allowed on many planes since they emit radio signals that could interfere with the airplane’s systems. Pilots reported cases during which satellite messengers have affected the plane’s GPS signal. TSA recommends communicating with the airline before traveling with them. The ZOLEO satellite communicator GPS is a popular option that works both with your smartphone and alone to keep you connected and accessible in case of emergency.
Will GPS on my phone work during the flight?
GPS can work even when your phone is on airplane mode since the GPS signal doesn’t depend on cellular data and wifi. But, since civilian GPS devices are designed with certain functions in mind, conditions like high altitude and high speed make it difficult for civilian GPS devices to work accurately. The fuselage of the plane might also be another limitation for your GPS.
Does GPS interfere with the hardware on airplanes?
All electronics devices that receive and transmit radio frequency have a certain potential to interfere with the hardware on airplanes, but most GPS devices are low-power devices and aren’t considered a major threat to avionic systems. Still, many airlines ban certain types of GPS devices completely or limit their use on the plane as a safety measure.
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