Can You Bring GPS Trackers and Other GPS Devices on Planes?

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Garmin GPS navigation SOS device in the woods

Carry-on bags


Yes, with conditions

Checked luggage


Yes, with conditions

Rules for Flights in the USA

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, but in general, they should also be allowed.

Rules for Flights in Other Countries

Canada

Similar to the US, on Canadian flights, GPS devices are accepted both in carry-on and checked baggage.

Europe and the United Kingdom

It is not specified whether GPS devices are allowed on planes in Europe and the UK. That said, some airlines ask passengers to report any GPS tracking devices in carry-on and cargo luggage, ask them to be off during the flight, and even limit the use of certain brands. It’s also recommended to keep electronic devices in hand luggage.

Australia

GPS devices are permitted in hand luggage 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 carry-on baggage.

New Zealand

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.

China

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.

India

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.

 

Sources: For writing this article, we took information only from official sources, like airline regulators, government websites, and major airlines. If you want to confirm that our information is accurate and up to date, click on any of the links mentioned above. We linked out to where we found this information for each country.

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.

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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.

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Can I use my GPS device during the flight?

You can use GPS devices during flights in the United States, but some airlines might limit their use to certain moments of the flight to avoid interference with the hardware of the airplane.

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 cell phone when going through United States airport security. Smaller GPS devices like luggage trackers might be subject to additional inspection too.

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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 in 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.

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Does GPS interfere with the hardware on airplanes?

All electronic 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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