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Spices In Hand Luggage: TSA Rules With All You Need To Know

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If you’re a foodie who loves to travel, you’ve probably wondered, “Can I bring spices in hand luggage?” This question can be a source of real anxiety for culinary enthusiasts and home cooks who want to bring a taste of their travels back home.

With my love for travel, food and a vast knowledge of TSA regulations, I am here to share with you. If you have ever wondered, “Can you take spices in hand luggage?” this article will provide all the information you need.

Together, let’s explore the world of spices and what TSA requires for you to fly with spices in hand luggage.

What About Spices In Hand Luggage, Yes Or No?

The answer is more complicated than a yes or no. Some spices can go in your hand luggage, while others will need to be in checked bags. Some fresh herbs and spices may need to have a phytosanitary certificate with them. Liquid herbs may need to follow the 3 1 1 liquids rule. We have lined it all out for you as you proceed.

Understanding The TSA Guidelines For Carrying Spices In Hand Luggage

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specific rules regarding what can and cannot be brought onto a plane in your hand luggage, also known as carry on luggage. When it comes to spices, the TSA’s guidelines are clear: herbs, both in powder form and packaged dried spices are generally allowed in hand luggage.

Special Rule For Trips To The US: The Powder Rule

When traveling to the USA, the powder rule, which has been in force since the end of June 2018, states that powdery substances, including powdery herbs, should not be transported in hand luggage in containers with more than 350 ml capacity. If you want to take herbs to the USA in containers larger than 350 ml, store them in checked baggage instead of hand baggage.

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The TSA Rule For Liquid Spices

When it comes to liquid spices in hand luggage, the TSA treats them the same as other liquids in your carry-on luggage. This means that liquid condiments, such as vanilla extract or hot sauce, must be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less and fit in one quart-sized resealable bag. If your liquid spices exceed this amount, it’s best to pack them in your checked luggage.

TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule

Here is a quick refresher on what 3-1-1 says pertaining to spices in hand luggage.

  1. The 3 in the 3 1 1 rule refers to the amount of liquid you can carry in a bottle onto your flight, either in your carry on luggage or personal carry on. So you must have a 3.4-ounce travel-size container with only 3.4 ounces of liquid products in each one.
  2. The first, 1 in the 3 1 1 rule, refers to a one-quart size bag. You can stuff all the liquids you can fit into this one-quart size bag. The bag must be clear and no larger than a quart.
  3. The second, 1 in the 3 1 1 rule, refers to how many bags one person can carry onto the plane. Each person can have only one quart-sized bag with liquids as a carry on item, so if you are traveling alone, then only one bag. But if you have children carrying their own luggage, they can also have one bag apiece.

Fresh Spices In Hand Luggage And The Sanitary Plant Protection Rules

For fresh spices in leaf or herb form, such as chili peppers, additional rules on sanitary plant protection must be observed. When importing into the US, you may need a phytosanitary certificate from the phytosanitary service of the country of origin in order to import the spices and herbs.

Phytosanitary Certificate

Now, I looked into this phytosanitary certificate to see exactly what it says. According to USDA (United States Department Of Agriculture), the country you are traveling from has to give you a certificate stating that the fresh herbs you are bringing into the US are clean and free of any -pests or diseases. After all, we don’t want any new epidemics anywhere in the world.

Let’s say you are in Italy and want to bring fresh spices in hand luggage with you. When you buy them, you must get a phytosanitary certificate from the seller and present it at customs with the spices. If the seller does not have a certificate, customs will probably take the herbs away from you.

And if you do not declare the fresh spiced and customs discover them, it can hold a fine of up to $10,000. Those would need to be some pretty special spices for me to pay that kind of money.

Exceptions To Transporting Spices In Hand Luggage

While the TSA’s rules about spices in hand luggage are generally quite clear, there are a few exceptions to be aware of. Some airlines or countries may have specific restrictions on certain types of herbs.

For example, All Nippon Airlines prohibits spices in hand luggage, like chili powder from India. New Zealand also requires passengers to declare all food, including herbs, upon arrival and limits the amount of spices in hand luggage that can be brought into the country to one kilogram.

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FAQs About Traveling With Spices In Hand Luggage

Navigating TSA rules can sometimes feel like navigating a maze. To help you find your way, here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding spices in hand luggage.

Can I bring fresh herbs in my carry-on luggage?

Fresh herbs, like spices, can be brought in your carry-on luggage. However, they may be subject to additional sanitary plant protection rules. When importing into the US, you may need a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin. It’s always best to check with the TSA or your airline before you travel.

What happens if I accidentally bring spices in a container larger than 350 ml in my hand luggage?

A container over 350 ml may need to undergo additional safety screening. If it fails this screening, TSA may confiscate it at the security checkpoint. To avoid this, it’s best to pack larger quantities of spices in your checked baggage.

Can I pack liquid spices in my checked luggage?

Yes, you can pack liquid spices in your checked luggage. While the TSA allows liquid herbs in carry-on bags, they must be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less and fit in one quart-sized resealable bag. If your liquid spices exceed this amount, it’s best to pack them in your checked luggage.

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs, and troubleshooting on TSA, here are some additional posts about TSA:


Navigating TSA rules can be a complex task, but with the right knowledge, you can breeze through security with your spices intact. Remember, when in doubt, always check the TSA’s official website or call the TSA helpline for clarification. Safe travels, and happy cooking!

Happy travels, my friends.

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Laura Fuller

Hello, I am a luggage and travel fanatic. With a vast knowledge of TSA regulations, I am here to assist you on your journey. Please join me, and together, we will navigate the world of travel. From TSA and air to cruising the high seas, we will explore the best accessories and tips for smooth travel.

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