Traveling with Body Armor? Here's what you need to know:
If you own or wear body armor regularly, it’s important to know the legalities and restrictions of traveling with your gear. While some airlines and countries have different policies, traveling with body armor isn’t as difficult or expensive as some may think as long as you’re prepared. Here we’ll offer some helpful tips to make your travel experience go as safely and smoothly as possible with your body armor.
Flying with Your Gear
On their website, the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that body armor is generally allowed in your personal carry-on and checked bags. However, the TSA officers have the final say on whether certain specific items can pass through their checkpoints. In the case that an officer does not allow your specific body armor on the plane, allot yourself enough time to return to your vehicle to avoid the risk of confiscation or missing your departure. In general it is a good rule of thumb to arrive early to the airport if you are traveling with body armor as there is always the possibility of more extensive searches and questioning by airport security to make sure you are not a safety concern.
Domestic travel is pretty straightforward. It’s is legal to own Body Armor in all 50 states so traveling over state lines doesn’t present any issues. However, some airlines have different restrictions for their flights. We recommend checking your airline’s website to review their policies before arriving at the airport. Your airline should have a list of prohibited items on their website, so it should be easy to check beforehand and make sure that your gear is allowed on the plane.
If you are traveling internationally, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that the country or countries you’re visiting allow civilians to possess and wear body armor. Thoroughly check your airlines rules and regulations about traveling with body armor as well. Be aware of the laws specific to the country you’re traveling to before you plan your trip to avoid any issues. Some countries treat certain types of body armor as controlled items, so always make sure that the type of gear you’re packing falls within the legal parameters of your destination. To give an example, in Australia it is illegal to bring in anti-ballistic and anti-fragmentation armor without specific authorization from the Minister for Home Affairs or other authorized personnel.
Carry-On or Check Your Bag?
We recommend checking your baggage containing body armor. One of the biggest issues for flying with body armor is weight. Most airlines charge a fee if your checked bag is over a certain weight threshold. For instance packing a Carrier with steel plates will cost you more than a vest utilizing soft armor inserts. Know your airlines guidelines and if possible weigh your bags at home prior to going to the airport to avoid unexpected charges.
If you are carrying your body armor in your checked bags, there should be no problem with airport security. Just be sure to keep all documents, product information and receipts with your gear. If TSA has any questions you’ll be prepared, compliant and the body armor is safe to check. If your profession requires that you wear body armor, bring any documentation or credentials to help with any questioning.
While TSA states that body armor is allowed as a carry-on, you’ll want to keep it in a bag that is tough and compact. Some Body Armor will trigger the metal detector depending on the material and accessories. Most kevlar and ceramic/composite Body Armor is made of synthetic fabric that will not trigger metal detectors or alarms. So unless you have a bag specifically designed for it, the quickest and most efficient way to travel with Body Armor is in a checked bag containing all proper documentation.
Can You Wear Body Armor to The Airport?
We would advise against this in favor of packing your armor in your checked baggage. Wearing body armor into an airport or onto a plane will set off some red flags. As we’ve said, the TSA states on its website that body armor is generally allowed in your personal checked bags and carry-on, implying it can’t be worn for travel. Traveling with body armor is a hot button topic today and you’re better off avoiding any lengthy questioning with TSA to ensure a trouble free travel experience.
Yes, You Can Travel with Body Armor!
To summarize, yes you can travel domestically and internationally with body armor, and it can be an easy experience as long as you are properly prepared. Don’t wear it to the airport, check your airline’s policies on body armor and the rules and regulations of your destination prior to arriving at the airport. Remember all of your documentation and receipts, preferably in a checked bag, to avoid any unexpected fee’s or questioning from TSA. Now you’re ready for a smooth travel experience and a safe trip!