Rules for Flights in the USA
According to the TSA (Transport Security Administration), with certain limitations, perfumes and colognes are allowed on airplanes in hand and checked luggage on flights within the United States.
If you’re packing perfume in hand luggage, you have to follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. It states that all liquids and aerosols in hand luggage have to be in 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles or smaller, they must be placed in transparent, 1 quart-sized, resealable bags, and each passenger can have only 1 of these bags. Perfume and cologne count as liquids, so you’ll have to store them in the same bag together with your other toiletries. Small perfume bottles usually are good to go.
In checked luggage, perfume and cologne don’t have any packing requirements, but they’re described as hazardous materials, so they’re restricted to 500 ml (17 fl oz) bottles or smaller. Nearly all perfume bottles are below this limit though. In fact, this rule goes out to all toiletry aerosols, liquid and aerosol medicine, inhalers, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, nail polish, and nail remover. Furthermore, the release mechanism on perfume bottles must be protected with a cap to prevent accidental activation, and the total amount of these hazardous materials is limited to 2 kg (70 oz) per person in total.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canada, Europe, and China
In hand luggage, they must be in 100 ml (3.4 oz) bottles and be packed together with your other toiletries in a clear, resealable, 1-liter bag. In checked bags, they’re limited to 500 ml (17 fl oz) bottles or smaller. And the total amount per passenger can’t exceed 2 liters (68 fl oz).
The United Kingdom and India
On UK and Indian flights, the rules for perfumes on planes in hand luggage are identical to the US – they must go in your toiletries bag. There aren’t any quantity limits that we could find for checked baggage, so you aren’t limited to any bottle sizes and any total aggregate quantity limits. However, take this with a grain of salt, because each airport security officer always has the final say.
It’s also worth noting that on Indian flights specifically, each toiletry item and liquid in hand luggage must be meant for consumption during the flight. If you can’t argue that you’ll need your perfume during the flight, the airport security agent could confiscate your perfume, so it’s better to pack them in checked luggage instead.
Australia and New Zealand
Most airports in Australia and New Zealand have the new CT scanners, so liquids (including perfume and cologne) in hand luggage don’t need to be in 100 ml (3.4 oz) bottles or smaller when traveling domestically. On international flights, they do. In addition to that, regardless of whether the flight is international or domestic, perfume is limited to 500 ml (17 oz) containers or less, and the total amount per passenger can’t exceed 2 kg (70 oz).
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 perfume and cologne bottles on planes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Perfume and Cologne on Planes
What size perfume am I allowed to take on a plane?
In hand luggage, whether it’s your personal item or carry-on, you can carry perfume only in up to 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles or smaller. In checked luggage, perfume bottles can’t be over 500 ml (17 fl oz) or 500 g (18 oz). Furthermore, when packed in hand luggage, you must pack perfume in your clear, resealable bag of toiletries. If your perfume is over 100 / 500 ml, you must split it into several smaller bottles or send it via other means.
It’s important to also bring the original packaging of the perfume if the bottle doesn’t show how many milliliters of perfume is inside since the airport security agents need to confirm that they’re below the allowed limits. Of course, extra small bottles (for example, perfume samples), which are obviously below the limits, will be allowed anyway.
Another important thing to remember is that your perfume bottles should always travel with their caps on, to prevent accidental discharge. This is actually mentioned in the TSA rules, so always remember to keep the cap of the spray nozzle and not throw it out.
What’s the maximum amount of perfume I can travel with?
With the condition that your perfume bottles are below 3.4 oz (100 ml) in hand luggage and 18 oz (500 ml) in checked luggage, you can bring 2 liters (68 fluid ounces) or 2 kg (70 ounces) of perfume in total. This limit is enforced per passenger, and it includes carry-on and hand luggage. So for example, you can have 500 ml (17 fl oz) of perfume in your hand luggage and 1.5 liters (51 fl oz) in your checked bag.
It’s also important to know that this limit is shared with other substances as well. Airline regulators treat perfume as a hazardous, flammable liquid, in addition to cologne, rubbing alcohol, inhalers, nail polish remover, nail polish, hand sanitizers, medicines, hairspray, shaving cream, and all aerosols. For example, you can’t bring 1.5 liters of perfume and 1 liter of rubbing alcohol. You can, however, bring 1.5 liters of perfume and 0.5 liters of rubbing alcohol, because each passenger can have a total sum of flammable, hazardous toiletry items below 2 liters.
Are all types of fragrances allowed on planes (perfume, cologne, body spray, mist, lotion, etc.)?
Theoretically, all types of fragrances are allowed on planes, including perfume, cologne, body spray, body mist, body lotion, and other scented toiletry items.
However, perfume and cologne specifically are limited to 500 ml (17 fl oz) containers and each person can have only 2 liters (68 fl oz) of perfume in total in all of their bags. Because perfumes contain alcohol and are flammable, they’re considered hazardous substances. Theoretically, perfumes and colognes that don’t contain alcohol and aren’t flammable could be allowed on planes in any quantities, but it’s too difficult for the TSA officers to differentiate between hazardous and safe ones, so instead, all perfumes and colognes fall under the same category.
Other scented toiletry products, like body spray, body mist, and body lotion might be allowed in any quantities, but it entirely depends on the judgment of each security officer. In general though, if the product doesn’t look like a perfume, if it isn’t an aerosol, and it doesn’t have the flammable substance markings on the packaging, it should be allowed in checked luggage in any quantities.
How do I pack perfume in my carry-on (or checked bag) to avoid spills?
First of all, ensure that your perfume bottle has a cap over the spray nozzle and made sure that it isn’t leaking (it’s required by the TSA). After that, put it in a Ziploc bag, get out as much air as possible, and seal it tightly. If packed in the carry-on, put it in your bag of toiletries. After that, wrap your bag of toiletries (or just the perfume bottle if packed in a checked bag) in soft, bulky clothing to avoid damage, especially if it’s packed in checked baggage, which gets exposed to rough baggage handling conditions. Avoid placing it next to the walls of your suitcase or next to any hard objects. That’s it – now your perfume bottle should be protected from spills.
If you have any small test samples of perfume, the best chance to use them is on vacation because the small test vial is usually made out of plastic and won’t spill. If not, you can order refillable travel perfume containers on Amazon. They’re useful when you’re bringing perfume for personal use during the vacation.
And lastly, remember that the smell of perfume is almost impossible to get out completely if it spills on your luggage and clothing, so make sure to do a good job at packing it!
Are there any differences between traveling with perfume on domestic vs international flights?
Unless you’re flying domestically in Australia, New Zealand, or from an airport that has the new CT scanners, then the rules for flying with perfume are identical for domestic and international flights. Australia and New Zealand have the new CT scanners in almost all of their airports, so passengers aren’t required to have perfume and other liquids in 100 ml (3.4 oz) bottles or smaller on domestic flights.
Instead, they only have to follow the hazardous liquids and aerosols rule, which says that perfumes should be in 500 ml (17 fl oz) containers or smaller, and each passenger can only have 2 liters (68 fl oz) of perfume and other hazardous toiletry items in total.
Does it matter what kind of container my perfume is in (glass, plastic, metal, etc.)?
It doesn’t matter whether your perfume is in glass, plastic, metal, or any other container – all of them are allowed on airplanes in hand and checked luggage. There are restrictions only for the perfume liquid itself, not the container. If you want to, you can pack perfume in glass containers in your bag of toiletries in hand or checked luggage.
Do I need to declare perfume in my luggage?
When returning back to your home country, for example, the US, you need to declare anything that you’ve purchased abroad, including perfume. Depending on your total purchase amount and where you purchased it, the customs officers might require you to pay an import tax.
Will I need to pay customs tax on my perfume?
If you bring too many bottles of perfume, you might have to pay duty tax when entering the arrival country. It’s charged regardless of whether it’s duty-free perfume or not. Whenever you’re traveling internationally, you have to go through the customs as well, not only security. If they see that you’re carrying an amount that’s not intended for personal use, they’ll ask you to pay a duty tax. When traveling domestically though, you won’t be taxed for bringing too much perfume.
For example, for the U.S., the customs duty is calculated as follows. Depending on where you’re flying from, you can import $200, $800, or $1600 worth of merchandise for personal use (for instance, perfume.) Anything over that has to be taxed. For perfumes, the import tax is quite high. For non-alcoholic perfumes, it’s 20%, and for perfumes containing alcohol, it’s 75%.
Also, you should always keep receipts when you’re traveling with perfume. For instance, if you bring three expensive perfumes on your vacation that you’ve bought in the U.S., the customs agents could ask you to pay customs duty if you don’t provide the appropriate receipts. They base this on the assumption that you’ve purchased them during your vacation.
Can I use perfume during the flight?
You’re allowed to use your personal perfume during the flight by almost all airlines. However, even though you’re allowed to do that, you should avoid spraying too much or doing it next to other passengers. That’s because the airline crewmembers are authorized to not allow you to use any more perfume during the flight if the scent is too intense and it disturbs other passengers.
If you have to spritz yourself while you are on the plane, consider doing so in the bathroom. Use a minimal amount and wait in the bathroom for a while to let the airplane cycle out the smell. If you use too much, you can always use some water and a paper towel to wipe off your skin. The reality is that we’re not likely to notice overpowering scents on our bodies but other people definitely will. Keep this in mind before you decide to spray!
Can I take perfume through airport security?
Perfume is allowed through airport security virtually anywhere across the world. However, in almost all airports (that don’t have the new 3D scanners) perfume has to be in 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles and packed in a clear, resealable, 1-liter bag together with all other liquids, gels, and aerosols. Furthermore, this bag of toiletries needs to be removed from your hand luggage and placed in a separate bin when going through the security checks.
It’s also worth noting that in India, all toiletry items in hand luggage must be meant for use while on the flight. That’s why we advise packing perfume in checked luggage if you’re flying to or from India or have a connecting flight there.
Is it safe to pack perfume in checked luggage?
Generally, it isn’t safe to pack perfume in checked luggage. We always recommend that you pack perfume in hand luggage instead of checked luggage because perfume is usually pretty expensive, and expensive items tend to get ‘lost’ from checked luggage. Especially if you’re flying through third-world countries. In fact, perfumes are one of the most targeted items by airport thieves.
Even if your perfume doesn’t get stolen, it could get damaged, because checked bags are known to get thrown around quite a bit during baggage handling. And if the perfume bottle gets damaged, it will spill across your whole luggage and clothing, and the smell is almost impossible to get rid of.
Can I bring duty-free perfume on planes?
Duty-free perfume isn’t restricted by the 3-1-1 rule in hand luggage, so it doesn’t need to be in 100 ml (3.4 oz) containers. However, it’s still subject to the hazardous toiletries rule, which means that it’s restricted to 500 ml (17 fl oz) bottles or smaller, and each passenger can have 2 liters (68 fl oz) of perfume in total.
Duty-free perfume also doesn’t need to fit in your hand luggage. Usually, airlines allow you to bring duty-free items in shopping bags in addition to your carry-on and underseat luggage.
That said, you should avoid buying too much duty-free perfume, otherwise, you’ll have to pay customs tax upon entering your arrival country. Also, always keep the receipts for duty-free items because airlines will ask for them before boarding.
There’s one thing you should keep in mind though. You should always purchase duty-free perfume right before or during the last leg of the flight if you’re flying on a connecting flight. That’s because you can carry duty-free items in addition to your hand luggage only on the first leg of the flight. If you’d purchase perfume over 3.4 oz (100 ml) on the first leg of the flight on a connecting flight, you would then have to check it in before your second flight. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible if your checked bag is automatically transferred.
Is duty-free perfume cheaper?
The real answer is that duty-free perfume isn’t always cheaper. Although duty-free tobacco and alcohol are usually cheaper, you will likely find that most other items aren’t. Occasionally, you can find good deals, but you have to do some thorough research. It helps to have your phone handy to search. Of course, you won’t be able to do that during a flight, so if you want to get duty-free perfume from airlines, it may be worth it to look up their perfume prices on their website before the flight.
What perfumes are best for traveling?
When shopping for a new perfume for traveling, it’s important to find an unoffending scent, which won’t disturb other airplane passengers. Avoid chemical-based fragrances as they can contain ingredients like phthalates that can cause headaches and irritate respiratory conditions for other passengers. Citrus scents have been known to aid in nausea, vertigo, and headaches, so this might be the best choice. And lastly, choose fragrances with as few ingredients as possible, as they’re less likely to be intense.
Shopping for a new perfume online isn’t a good idea unless you’ve tested it yourself in real life because you never know what the scent is like. Instead, you should find an unoffending perfume for traveling locally, and then fill up a smaller bottle or two of refillable travel perfume containers.
How do I calculate how much perfume I need for a two-week vacation?
Generally, you can expect to get 10 sprays per ml of fragrance, so a 100 ml (3.4 oz) bottle should last about 1000 sprays. If you use about 3 sprays each wearing (one on each wrist and one on the neck) and use it once every day, then a 100 ml (3.4 oz) bottle should last you about one year. For a two-week vacation, you’d need 42 sprays or about 4 ml of perfume. Realistically, you need about 0.3 ml of perfume each day if used once per day.
Although sample perfumes vary in size, most of them come in 1.5 ml containers, so for a two-week vacation, you’d need 3 sample bottles if used each day. If you’re traveling regularly though, you should probably invest in a few refillable travel perfume containers, which are spillproof and 5 ml in size, and should be the perfect amount for a two-week vacation.
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