Can you fly with CBD supplements in your luggage?

July 26, 2023

This is a question we’re asked all the time, so we thought it was about time we answered it in the most comprehensive way possible. Yes, we could have a big long yes/no list of countries, but it would be out of date within a week and lead to all sorts of confusion. Googling things like is cannabis legal in Italy or Canada will only get you so far too, for a very good reason: legal on the ground does not mean legal in the air. 

Not convinced by that argument and think we’re trying to drag this out? Think about mobile power packs for starters. You can use them to recharge your phones and tablets on the move and no one would bat an eyelid — they are, after all, just a large portable battery. But if you try and check one in with you as you board a plane, it’ll be taken off you, confiscated and ultimately discarded. Why? Because there are limits to what you’re allowed in the air, many of which are in place due to historical terrorist attacks or longstanding aviation standards. 

There was a case, that was fortunately foiled, where a terrorist tried to use a battery to build a bomb onboard. There was also a cause, again, fortunately foiled, where a concerted attempt was made to blow seven airliners out of the sky simultaneously using liquid explosives. This is why there are restrictions on the volume of liquid you’re allowed to take with you when bringing it in from outside the airport terminal. And there was you cynically thinking about taking your bottled water and making you pay three times the store price the moment you walk through security was just Heathrow and Gatwick trying to take a little bit of extra money out of your pocket! 

So, we’ve now established that what’s legal on the ground doesn’t necessarily translate to legal on the other side of the airport check-in desk. There’s also the issue of where you’re flying to and the restrictions customs at your destination location will place on what you can bring into the country. Why? Because you’re not allowed to illegally import something into any country, by definition of it being illegal. 

While we don’t want to criticise other countries for not (hopefully yet) adopting an inclusive and open approach to CBD use, it is something you have to consider when packing your luggage at home. Some countries will simply confiscate it and let you go on your way, while certain regional airlines will stop you from flying with it and save you headaches on the other end. But, then again, there’s always the risk that you will fall foul of the rules and land in a country that takes a zero tolerance to CBD even so much as being in your system, let alone your luggage. Dubai and the rest of the Middle East are destinations that come to mind because of a number of high-profile cases involving celebrities and influencers.

Different places = different laws

If in doubt, remember that the region you’re flying to is different from the UK and has a right to take whatever stance it likes when it comes to CBD usage and criminalisation. You may not agree with it, but you will get nowhere fast if you try and fight it by making a stand at the customs declaration desk. Trust us, it is simply not worth the risk to your freedom or the chances of having the holiday you’ve been waiting and saving up for all year long. 

The next thing you need to consider is how much CBD you’re taking in your luggage, and whether or not it has to go into the checked baggage in the heart of the aircraft’s hold. While some airlines have chosen to relax the 100 ml limit on bottled fluids you can take as carry on, or in the hold, others haven’t. The safest way to navigate this rule is to make sure that you’re below the 100 ml threshold so that you never fall foul of a part of the law that can appear rather grey if you’re googling around in search of answers. 

Something else that you also need to consider is what specifically is inside the bottle. CBD may not get you ‘high’ but THC will and it can be found in CBD oil in trace amounts. The UK is a good example of how a threshold has to be set for legal entry into the country, and the level is no more than 0.2% THC. Any more than this, even a fraction, means that you will be treated as if you are trying to illegally import a psychoactive drug that is in breach of UK law. Once again, whether you agree that this is the case or not, you will get nowhere fast if you try to make a stand at the customs declaration desk. Play it safe and opt for an isolate that has independent third party testing data to back up the purity of what’s in the bottle. That way you can provide a high degree of proof that will likely persuade even the strictest, most CBD-averse body agent with little difficulty. 

Other countries will also have restrictions on whether or not edibles are legal for importation. This is a fast evolving area due to the constant battle between negative perceptions of cannabis on the one hand, and a growing body of scientific evidence regarding the benefits of CBD on the other. While this sounds like a nice summary, it may not be all that useful if you’re looking to ensure you can get your supplements to your hotel room and enjoy the health and wellness focused trip you’ve been looking forward to. So, let’s work out a step-by-step process that will get you to the other end of your trip in peace. 

Always check with your airline

The first thing to do is contact your airline and ask them if there are any restrictions on carrying CBD oils, balms and edibles on their flights. If there are, then you may want to look for a different airline if you’re not willing to compromise when it comes to your health and wellness routine while you’re away. There’s no judgement from us on that one folks, it’s really down to you and what makes you happy. Take your time, listen to the airlines and it’ll soon become clear when you can move onto the next step. 

The next thing to do is double check that you can still take CBD legally into the country you’re travelling to. We’re assuming you’re not planning to travel to Dubai where it’s clear that they have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to all things CBD, in large part because they conflate it with street cannabis. If in doubt, the British Embassy or Consulate are the places to go as they will be able to give you far more information than a quick google session. 

Do these two little things proactively and diligently and you’ll be able to make absolutely sure that you have everything in order when it comes to your CBD supplements before you make your way to the airport. 

You only have to look at the recent high profile case of Brittney Griner — the US women’s basketball star detained in Russia for 10 months — to worry about travelling with CBD. While there may have been other factors at play in that specific case, and we’ll get onto those later, we also need to look in detail about the restriction and best practices around CBD. 

One of the first things to check is whether or not it is legal to consume in your destination country. Is cannabis legal in Canada? Yes, for medicinal use it is legal. Is cannabis legal in Italy? Yes, for medicinal use cannabis is legal…and so on. These types of questions are the bare basics you need to be asking before deciding to travel with CBD. Why cannabis? Because even though you and I know CBD and cannabis leaves are two different things, you will be amazed at the number of people who don’t know that. Play it safe and assume that the person who will be searching your bag at the border won’t know the difference. 

There are also key things you need to consider on your journey, and it’s just simple questions like is cannabis legal in New York (yes) if that’s where you’re travelling to. What you need to remember is that you need to follow the individual advice of the airline, as well as the local laws and customs of any transit countries you may be passing through during the course of connecting flights. Let’s break this down step by step so we can focus on the fine details. 

The first thing to consider is whether or not the airline itself will allow you to take CBD products onboard. If they don’t, then the whole issue is a moot point and taking CBD with you on your travels is a nonstarter. Now, while we can’t provide a definitive list of the latest guidelines for every airline, there are a few key things to consider and look into further. 

Firstly, what form are you taking the CBD in? The reason we say this is that while some airlines will have no issue with you taking capsules or tablets that contain CBD, they may have restrictions on the amount and volume of liquid you’re able to take in the hold or in your hand luggage. Vaping is another issue that also needs to be handled with care. The electronic nature of vapes means they have been banned or prohibited by some airlines at certain times. This means that even if the vape cartridges are legal for carry on the airline, the actual vaping device itself will not be allowed.

Some airlines will impose blanket bans on the carrying of vaping devices, while others will only allow them to be carried in the hold, preventing you from having access to them during the course of your flight. The simplest way to address these issues is to connect with the airline directly prior to ordering your tickets. You can also ask to be informed of any changes to their policies in the lead up to your departure. If in doubt, ask politely and confidently for clarification and make sure you don’t leave it to your gut instinct. 

Something else to consider is if you’re passing through any transit countries on your way to your final destination.

A number of people have fallen victim on flights between the UK and Asia by changing in the Middle East, for example. These countries have a very different culture to our own and much less tolerant of anything they deem to be even loosely associated with illegal drugs. The key point here is that even though you may only be passing through the airport, you are still stepping foot in their country for a period of time. This means that you have to abide by the same rules, laws and customs as you would if you were taking your entire vacation there. 

Once again, if you’re in doubt, contact the right person for information. While it may be tempting to google information, we cannot stress enough how, in these types of cases, it’s so important to make sure you have the very latest and most current information at your disposal. These types of policies can be changed quickly in countries around the world and are unlikely to make the mainstream press here in the UK. Just because you can’t see that CBD is banned in your transit country doesn’t mean it is allowed. In fact, we advise a stance that says if you can’t see where it’s explicitly permitted, assume it’s banned and leave it at home. Only then can you be 100% sure that you’re not going to fall foul of the rules and incur the penalties and disruption to your trip that will almost certainly follow. 

When you’re looking into these types of issues it may be tempting to throw in the towel and decide that you’re going to leave your UK CBD products at home and buy something locally. While this may sound like the low-stress solution, how will you know that what you’re buying is something you should actually be putting into your body? The answer is that unless you find a brand in advance who is as stringent and trustworthy as we are, you’re unlikely to have much success when picking one at random off a crowded store shelf. 

The key here is to do your research in advance and look for a CBD brand that has all the same checks and balances in place as we do. Only then will you be able to sleep with the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have everything covered and nothing untoward is entering into your body. Here’s a quick rundown of the key things you need to look out for: 

  • Independent third party testing that’s conducted by experts who continually assess the origin, potency and purity of the CBD you hold in your hand 
  • Individualised results that allow you to change the way you approach health and wellness by looking at the specific results of supplements, rather than standard generic results for the product range 
  • Ethical origin accreditations that give you the peace of mind that everyone involved in the growing, harvesting and processing has been paid a fair wage for their hard work 
  • Natural and organic farming practices that show you there’s nothing synthetic or unwanted entering your body when there shouldn’t be 

By taking your time to do your research well in advance, you can make sure that you find the right product when you get to your destination. Ideal if you feel like no one is forthcoming enough with the information you need to make an informed decision. 

Final thoughts 

Being cautious and careful is always the way to go when crossing international borders. If you’re in the slightest doubt about whether or not you should be carrying your CBD supplements with you, leave them at home and seek a safe and certified alternative. Perfect when you want to sleep with the peace of mind that your holiday will be one to remember for all the right reasons. 

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