Rules for Flights in the USA
On flights in the United States, tattoo needles are allowed in hand and cargo baggage. Tattoo guns are also permitted in both. But, electric tattoo guns with batteries have restrictions. If they have lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries, TSA recommends packing them in the carry-on package.
If they are traveling in checked baggage, batteries should be installed and the tattoo gun must have a way to prevent it from getting activated. Any spare batteries should travel in cabin baggage. Tattoo needles should be properly packed so they can’t cause any harm while handling the baggage.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
On Canadian flights, it’s not specified if tattoo needles are allowed or banned from planes. But, overall, needles and hand tools are allowed in a carry-on if they are 6 centimeters/ 2.4 inches long or less. Keep in mind traveling with a complete tattoo kit might hint you’re visiting for work purposes and might involve additional questioning by border patrol.
Europe, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, China, and India
On flights in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, China, and India it isn’t specified if tattoo needles are allowed on planes. But, generally, tattoo needles are considered sharp items and aren’t allowed in cabin baggage, and should be packed in checked baggage. Also, passengers should keep in mind that bringing tattoo equipment into a foreign country might raise questions from customs and border patrol. If you don’t have a working visa and you’re carrying tattoo equipment, authorities might interpret it as if you will be working illegally in the country.
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 tattooing tools on planes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Tattooing Tools on Planes
Are electric tattooing machines (guns) and pens allowed on planes?
Electric tattooing machines (guns) and pens are allowed in hand and cargo baggage on planes in the United States. However, like with most electronic devices that have batteries, TSA recommends packing machine guns and pens in hand baggage. Electronic devices with lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries should be packed in a carry-on to prevent any fire hazards in cargo baggage. If traveling in checked baggage, lithium batteries should be installed in the device. The electronic pen or tattooing gun should be packed safely in a way that it can’t get activated accidentally. Spare loose batteries can only travel in hand luggage.
If the tattoo gun doesn’t have a battery and instead plugs into the mains power, then it doesn’t have any restrictions – it’s allowed both in hand and checked luggage.
Can I bring tattoo ink on a plane?
Yes, passengers are allowed to bring tattoo ink in carry-on and checked baggage on planes in the United States. However, when traveling in a carry-on, tattoo ink counts as a liquid and must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. The ink container must be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters and packed with other liquids in a 1-quart clear resealable bag. In checked luggage, there aren’t any quantity restrictions. Also, it’s a good practice to have the tattoo ink labeled and identified with its brand name.
Do I need to take out any tattooing equipment when going through security?
In general, you will need to take out tattooing equipment when going through security in the United States. TSA doesn’t mention tattoo guns or pens specifically, but the general rule is that electronics larger than a cell phone must be screened in a separate bin. Theoretically, if your tattooing equipment is similar to or smaller than a cellphone, you won’t need to take it out of the bag. But, if the security agent asks for inspection, be ready to pop open your tattoo kit traveling case. If you have any ink, you must also take it out of your bag when going through security, and place it together with all of your other toiletries.
Should I pack my tattooing machine, needles, and inks in my carry-on or checked bag?
You should pack your tattooing machine, needles, and inks in your carry-on bag when you’re traveling in the United States because it’s always preferable to pack valuable and fragile items there. Although they’re also allowed in cargo baggage, they may get stolen or damaged.
Although most tattoo artists prefer packing their tattoo ink in hand baggage, liquids in the cabin are restricted. TSA limits liquid containers in hand baggage to 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters and all of them must fit inside a 1-quart clear resealable bag. If you’re traveling with a high quantity of ink, you can use a tattoo ink travel case to pack ink in your checked baggage, where there aren’t any restrictions.
If you’re traveling outside the United States, pack your complete tattoo equipment kit in checked baggage, because tattoo needles aren’t specifically allowed in hand luggage.
What’s the best way to keep my tattooing equipment safe when traveling?
The best way to keep your tattooing equipment safe when traveling is by packing it in your cabin baggage. TSA allows tattoo guns, tattoo needles, and tattoo ink in hand baggage. You can use a tattoo kit box case as part of your carry-on allowance and pack everything together. However, liquids in carry-on luggage are restricted by TSA, so you can only pack as many ink containers as you can fit in a 1-quart clear and resealable bag. Plus, all ink containers should be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters. Passengers can also opt for using their carry-on luggage allowance exclusively for their tattoo equipment suitcase. If you’re checking in your tattooing equipment, use a tattoo ink travel case to prevent ink from spilling and a hard travel case to protect your equipment.
Are microblading tools also allowed on planes (needles, pigments, trimmers, pencils, etc.)?
Generally, microblading tools are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage on planes in the United States. Microblading tools are treated similarly to tattooing equipment, so needles, trimmers, and microblading pencils are allowed in hand baggage. The microblading pigments and ink containers are restricted to 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters in hand baggage because they could as liquids. You must also pack pigments inside a 1-quart clear resealable bag with other liquids and gels. Electric eyebrow pens with lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries must travel only in cabin baggage, as lithium batteries are banned from checked bags.
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