Rules for Flights in the USA
In the United States, printer ink cartridges are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage with certain restrictions.
Although the TSA website doesn’t explicitly say so, liquid printer cartridges traveling in carry-on luggage are subject to the liquids rule. Each printer ink cartridge should be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters and packed together with other liquids in a clear resealable 1-quart plastic bag.
Similarly, a printer toner made out of powder or granular material is subject to the powder rule. This means that when it’s traveling in cabin baggage the granular content of the toner can’t exceed 12 ounces / 350 milliliters. If so, it should be placed in checked baggage.
Printer ink cartridges and toners can travel in checked baggage without any restrictions, but they have a high risk of leaking and staining due to the rough handling of cargo baggage. So, overall, it’s not recommended to pack them in checked baggage, unless you put them in Ziploc bags first.
Although there aren’t any domestic rules, printer ink cartridges and toners that depart from the United States to New Zealand or the United Kingdom have multiple restrictions. If they weigh more than 16 ounces / 453 grams, they are banned completely from the plane.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
In Canada, the rules are very similar to the US – printer ink cartridges are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage, but when traveling in hand baggage, they must be 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters and packed together with other liquids in a resealable clear plastic bag. Powder or granular ink cartridges (toners) are allowed in hand and cargo baggage, but in a carry-on, they are limited to a maximum of 350 milliliters.
In the United Kingdom, ink and toner cartridges that weigh more than 18 ounces / 500 grams in total are only allowed in cargo baggage on domestic flights. Liquid ink cartridges traveling in carry-on must follow the liquid’s restrictions and be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters individually and fit with other liquids in a 1-quart size resealable bag. On flights to or from the United States, ink and toner cartridges weighing more than 16 ounces / 453 grams are forbidden.
Europe, Australia, China, and India
European, Australian, Chinese, and Indian authorities don’t list ink cartridges specifically as an allowed or banned item on planes. But, generally, they follow the same rules as the United States and allow ink cartridges in carry-on and checked baggage. When traveling in cabin baggage, printer ink cartridges count as liquids and are subject to each country’s rules for liquids, which are similar to those of TSA and generally establish a 3.4 ounce / 100 milliliter limit (except for domestic flights in Australia, where liquids in all quantities are allowed in hand luggage). Toner printer cartridges are mostly allowed on planes too, but they must follow the in-cabin powder rules in each country. However, passengers should keep in mind that ink cartridges and toners are generally considered flammable liquids and solids, and if there is a reason for concern, they might not be allowed on the plane.
In New Zealand, printer or toner cartridges over 16 ounces / 453 grams are forbidden in cabin and cargo baggage on flights departing and coming from the United States, Vancouver, and London. Liquid ink cartridges traveling in hand baggage are subject to the liquids rules and must be 3.4 ounce / 100-milliliter limit and packed with other liquids in a clear bag. Although there aren’t any restrictions for powders on domestic flights in New Zealand, toners are often considered flammable solids and might not be allowed onboard if a security guard deems them as dangerous.
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 printer ink cartridges on planes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Printer Ink Cartridges on Planes
Is printer ink considered a liquid?
Printer ink is generally considered a liquid on planes. Printer ink cartridges are usually made of oils, petroleum distillate, resins, and dyes. Therefore, when they are traveling in carry-on baggage, they are subject to the liquids rule. This means ink cartridges should be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters, and they should be packed together along with other liquids in a resealable clear bag.
Printer toners, however, are made out of granular material and therefore aren’t considered a liquid.
What are the restrictions for powder printer toner cartridges on planes?
Printer toners flying in cabin baggage in the United States must be under 12 ounces / 350 milliliters. TSA’s rules state that every granular or powder-like material in carry-on baggage should be under 12 ounces / 350 milliliter and must be taken out and placed in a bin during security screening. Contrary to most ink cartridges, toners are made out mostly of granulated polyester, a type of plastic. It can also have polypropylene, fumed silica, and minerals. There is no limit to powder substances in checked baggage on domestic flights. Toners over 16 ounces / 453 grams going to or from the United Kingdom or New Zealand are banned on planes.
How many printer ink cartridges I can travel with?
Overall, there isn’t an explicit limit on how many printer ink cartridges you can travel with on planes. However, printer ink cartridges are considered liquids under TSA’s rules. Therefore, when traveling in cabin baggage, printer ink cartridges must be limited to how many you can fit in a 1-quart size resealable bag with other liquids and toiletries. There aren’t any limits on how many printer ink cartridges you can take in your checked baggage. However, passengers should keep in mind printer ink is often considered a flammable liquid, and a large quantity of printer ink cartridges might not be allowed on a plane.
Is it better to pack printer ink cartridges in hand or checked luggage?
Generally, it’s better to pack printer ink cartridges in hand luggage when traveling in the United States. Although there is a limit in hand luggage for ink cartridges and they are subject to the liquids rule, overall, they are safer in carry-on than in checked baggage. Ink cartridges in checked baggage don’t have any limits, but due to the weight, pressure, and rough handling, they are likely to explode and stain your clothes. If you have a large quantity and you can’t take them on carry-on, then use a hard case to protect them against impact and weight pressure in cargo baggage.
Can I bring printer ink cartridges through airport security?
In general, you can bring printer ink cartridges through airport security in the United States. Printer ink cartridges are on the list of approved items by TSA. But, as they are considered liquids, they are subject to restrictions. Printer ink cartridges traveling in carry-on baggage must be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters and should fit together with all of your liquids in a 1-quart size resealable plastic bag.
Keep in mind some printer ink cartridges are considered flammable and might raise concerns when going through airport security. The final decision to allow printer ink cartridges through security rests on the TSA agent at the airport.
How do I securely pack a printer ink cartridge in my luggage?
The best way to pack your printer ink cartridge securely is by storing it in a resealable plastic bag and a hard case in your carry-on luggage. If possible, avoid packing your printer cartridges in checked baggage, as they are prone to breaking, exploding, and leaking during the flight. Instead, pack each printer ink cartridge in an individual resealable bag to pick up any possible leaks. You can also use a generic hard travel case to store your printer cartridges in your hand baggage and prevent them from getting squeezed and receiving pressure that might make them leak.
Can I also travel with liquid printer ink bottles?
In theory, you can also travel with liquid printer ink bottles on planes in the United States. Ink bottles traveling in cabin luggage must abide by the liquids rule. They should be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters and must go in a 1-quart clear resealable bag with other liquids. There are no restrictions on liquid ink bottles for printers in cargo baggage. But, even if they are generally allowed, some liquid ink bottles are flammable under certain circumstances. As a result, the airport security agent might not allow them in the cabin if they consider them dangerous to the aircraft.
Are printers allowed on planes?
Yes, printers are allowed in carry-on and cargo baggage when traveling on flights in the United States. When going through airport security, printers should be removed from your carry-on bag. You must place them in an additional bin to go through the x-ray machine and if necessary, a physical inspection too. Printers must also comply with the carrier’s size and weight restrictions for cabin baggage.
Make sure to remove the ink cartridges ahead of time and place them together with other liquids in the liquids bag in your carry-on. If your printer uses a toner, take it out of the printer and place it in a bin too to ease the screening process. If traveling internationally, check your destination’s rules as some countries prohibit carrying printers on planes.
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