Restricted Items On Aeroplanes

Have you booked a holiday? Before jet-setting to an exciting destination, it’s important to know the restricted items on aeroplanes you can’t carry on board. These travel restrictions are here to keep everyone safe while you’re in transit to your destination.

By packing smart for your next trip, you can avoid adding prohibited items to your checked baggage. Remember, whether it’s your first time on a plane or you’re a seasoned traveller, restrictions can change from time to time. That’s why it’s always worth refreshing your memory on prohibited and restricted items, so you can fly with confidence.

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This page was last updated on: 25 February 2020

Carry-on versus checked baggage

To understand restrictions or bans on items on aeroplanes, it’s important to note the difference between carry-on and checked baggage.

Carry-on baggage (also known as hand luggage or cabin baggage) is the small bag/s you can bring on board in the passenger section of the plane.  On the other hand, checked baggage (or “hold luggage”) is stored away in the hold of the plane during your flight.  


Prohibited versus restricted carry-on items

There are two categories of items subject to carry-on baggage restrictions:

Prohibited Items: 
Some items are prohibited, which means you can never take them onboard, regardless of the quantity. 

Restricted Items: 

These are items or substances that may be allowed under certain conditions (e.g. a 100 ml toothpaste tube is allowed on board, but a 200 ml tube wouldn’t be).


why are there prohibited and restricted items?

An aircraft in flight is subject to severe atmospheric pressure. We’re talking up to 75 kPa, acceleration and vibration of 1G to 8G, and extreme temperatures ranging from minus 40°C to over 55°C.

Under these conditions, certain otherwise harmless items can become unpredictable and even dangerous.

Some items are prohibited, as they could seriously hurt people, and some are restricted. While some restricted items may not seem dangerous, they can behave unpredictably at high altitudes.

To make packing your bags easier, we’ve broken down the prohibited items to leave at home, plus the ones you may be able to bring with restrictions.  

Prohibited Items In carry-on baggage

Prohibited items for carry-on baggage are goods that have the potential to risk the safety of yourself and others. If you have prohibited items in your carry-on luggage, you’ll likely need to throw them out at customs or you won’t be able to board your plane.  

In some instances, you may be able to pack prohibited carry-on items in your checked baggage. If in doubt, always contact your airline for clarification. Here are some prohibited items for carry-on baggage to avoid when packing for your trip:

Prohibited: Sharp Objects, tools, sporting goods, utensils

According to the Australian Government's Department on Home Affairs website, objects with sharp edges or points that could injure a person are prohibited. 

Here are some items that may be prohibited: 

  • Open/straight razors
  • Utility knives
  • Ski poles 
  • Screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, wrenches, crowbars 
  • Drills
  • Axes, hatches or similar
  • Darts 
  • Ice axes/picks
  • Ice skates
  • Knives of knife-life objects
  • Meat cleavers
  • Metal cutlery 
  • Rock climbing equiment 
  • Sporting bats (e.g. cricket bat)
  • Golf clubs 
  • Materials big enough to threaten a person, such as wood or metal
  • Hockey/lacrosse sticks
  • Pool, billiard or snooker cues.
prohibited: Flammable Items

Examples of household flammable goods include: 

  • Aerosol containers (including spray paint) 
  • Fireworks 
  • Petrol or any flammable liquid.
prohibited: Combustible or hazardous items

When travelling by aircraft, there are some items and subtances that could be a risk to the health and safety of others, property or the environment, including: 

  • Explosives
  • Poisons
  • Aerosols
  • Flammable liquids
  • Dangerous/volatile chemicals
  • Lithium batteries
  • Compressed gases
  • Radioactive materials.
prohibited: Weapons and restraints

No surprises here that all weapons and restraints are prohibited in carry-on luggage aboard a plane, including: 

  • Knives
  • Firearms, flares, gun powders 
  • Explosive flares
  • Stun guns 
  • Disabling and incapacitating chemicals, sprays or gases (e.g. capsicum spray)
  • Handcuffs 
  • Cable ties.


What if i need to take prohibited devices on a flight?

Many airlines do allow certain restricted items in your checked/hold luggage, especially sporting equipment, so check with them if you need to bring anything in the above list. Be sure to check with your airline for any restrictions on weight and size, and that your goods are securely packed.

Surprisingly, some firearms may be permitted in checked baggage. You must get airline approval and adhere to any relevant requirements, such as holding a valid firearms licence. 

Read the full list of items you cannot take on a plane on the Australian Government's Department of Home Affairs' website


recalled devices & other electronics


While most of the prohibited items are obvious things like weapons, there are some everyday electronic items that could cause problems onboard a flight. These devices, called ‘recalled devices’ are cause for concern because a company has realised there is a problem with one of their devices and has issued a directive around the device (this could be the device being returned for repaired, or simply being returned for refund).

It’s important to keep a note of recalled devices before you travel. One such example of a common recalled devices is the faulty 15-inch MacBook Pro – sold from 2015 to 2017. Find out if your device is safe on Apple's website.

Some airlines also have policies around devices that impede access to seats and aisles in the aircraft. These could be, but are not limited to, devices that attach to seats and devices that are inserted between seats.

If you’re in doubt, ask your travel agent or airline. Read the Australian Government’s fact sheet (PDF) to learn what to expect in the airport security screening process. 

Carry-on luggage: allowable but restricted items

Here is a list of items you can take onboard in carry-on luggage – with restrictions.

Items Restrictions

Aerosols, liquids and gels 

  • Must be in containers of 100 mililitres or 100 grams or less
  • Partially filled larger containers with a volume greater than 100ml or 100g are not accepted
  • Must fit into one clear, resealable plastic bag 
  • The bag's four side must not add up to more than 80cm (e.g. 15 x 25 cm) 
  • If you are a carer or have children, you may be able to carry more than one bag

This may come as a surprise, but yoghurt is considered a gel! See more examples of gels, liquids and aerosols on the Australian Border Force website.

Inorganic powders (not consisting of or derived from living matter)


  • The maximum amount of inorganic powders allowed is 350 millilitres or 350 grams per person
  • There is no limit on organic powders (e.g. baby formula)
  • Powders must be presented separately for screening but don’t require a resealable plastic bag

Food and drinks 

  • Steer clear of liquids and jelly-like goods
  • Dry foods such as biscuits, bread, sandwiches, confectionary, dried fruit, and coffee

Tip: Most countries will not allow you to bring plants, seeds, fresh fruit or vegetables, meat and animal products or wood products into the country.

Alcohol (duty free) 

  • Only allowed if you’re aged 18 years or over
  • Maximum 2.25 litres per person
  • Must be in retail packaging  (i.e. purchased at a duty free store)


  • All medication needs clear, professional labels – identifying the medication, and the manufacturer/pharmaceutical label
  • Written proof for medication from your medical provider
  • Check your medicine is legal in your country of destination
  • Put any liquids into a clear plastic bag
  • Hypodermic needle (with medical proof)

Battery powered devices 

  • Spare batteries of all sizes cannot be carried in checked in luggage
  • Battery devices must be safely installed and can’t be activated in transit
  • There is a limit of 15 lithium battery powered devices per passenger

Tip: If you have a special batter-powered medical device, be sure to talk to your airline. 

Utensils and grooming products

  • Non-metal cutlery knife (e.g. plastic) 
  • Safety razor


  • Allen keys under 6 cm
  • Knitting/crochet needles
  • Tennis, squash and badminton racquets (Note: Larger sporting equipment is typically packed in checked/hold baggage) 
  • Umbrella

Flammable goods

  • Alcohol (see restrictions above)
  • Lighter fluid
  • Perfume
  • Matches and lighters

We haven’t listed every item, but this list gives you an idea of the main restricted items on aeroplanes. The final say on what items are allowed will always rest with the airline and security screening officers.

To have the latest info around prohibited and restricted items, the Australian Government’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority has a very useful Dangerous Goods app. Simply search for an item, such as lithium battery, and it will bring up the relevant conditions.  


Is there a difference between what you can take onboard (Hand luggage) on international and domestic flights?

Departure board

Prohibited items are the same for domestic flights as international flights. Checked baggage for international and domestic flights are also the same. However, there are some variations for carry-on baggage with domestic flights.

If you’re flying on a domestic flight within Australia, there are no restrictions on how many gels, aerosols, powders and liquids you can bring onboard with you. (Although, all aerosols must have a fitted cap or locking device).

If your domestic flight connects to an international flight, be mindful that restrictions will apply. For example, if you are flying from Melbourne to London, with a stopover in Sydney, your first leg of the flight may not have restrictions on gels, aerosols, powders and liquids, but your leg from Sydney to London will. 


what to consider when bringing duty-free items aboard

If you’re purchasing duty free items to take onboard, you must keep them in the sealed bag you received at the time of purchase. Any broken seals or removed items could mean they’ll fall subject to liquid, powder, aerosol and gel restriction – which includes all your alcohol, perfume and cosmetics.

Be careful to always declare what you have and to not go over your duty-free limits.

Adult limits (per person):

  • 2.25 litres of alcohol
  • 25 cigarettes or 25g tobacco
  • AUD $900 of general goods.

Also, be mindful that if you’ve got a layover in another international airport (e.g. Singapore), that country may have its own restrictions you’ll need to follow.

If you’re flying into Australia, you can purchase duty free items:
  1. Upon arrival to Australia 
  2. Onboard the final leg of your flight to Australia 
  3. At the last airport stop before entering Australia (provided there is a gate delivery service).

Buying duty free items in the final leg of your journey is recommended, as some duty free items will not be allowed – even if they are in the sealed duty free plastic bag.

For example, if you purchase duty free items from Delhi on a flight to Sydney via Singapore, the authorities in Singapore can decide to not accept items based on their restrictions.

When packing for your holiday in Australia or abroad, always remember to check with your travel agent or airline if you’re unsure about any items.

Learn more about taking duty free items on a plane on the Australian Government's TravelSECURE web page.


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