Air Travel

Introduction


Please note that this information could change at any time. Please consult the relevant webpages before your trip to see if any information has changed since this page was created. Note also that some information in here is based on the interpretation of the page author(s) and should not be considered authoritative.

Bluntly: It is not legal in much of the world to carry double-edged or single-edged razor blades, or straight razors, in your carry-on luggage. Attempting to bring these dangerous objects on board will potentially result in delays, arrest and prosecution.

Restricted Items Pertaining to Shaving

United States Transportation Safety Administration Guidelines


Prohibited items|A photo of prohibited items taken from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Note the single-edged razor blade and other items capable of injuring people.
From the TSA webpage:[1][2] "Razor-Type Blades - such as box cutters, utility knives, and safety razor blades (disposable razors and their cartridges are permitted); Carry-on NO; Checked YES". Razor blades are specifically listed as an item prohibited from Aircraft Cabin. In other words, no loose razor blades except those contained in multi-blade cartridges and disposables, but razors with no blades in them are okay. More broadly: if the objective of the TSA is to prevent access to weapons that could be used to disrupt air travel or harm individuals, then any access to disposable SE or DE razor blades is a priority, whether those blades are contained in a razor, an unopened pack (tuck) of blades, or in any way accessible during a flight.

Historical note: before August 2010 the TSA guidelines used to make an exception for "safety razors", which required some interpretation of the term "safety razor". This confusion was clarified in August 2010, and it is now clear that:
  • Cartridge razors or cartridge-shaped disposable razors (Mach 3, Bic Sensitive, and the like) are allowed in checked and in carry on luggage.
  • DE or SE razors with no blade installed are allowed in checked and in carry on luggage.
  • DE or SE razors with a blade installed are prohibited in carry on luggage, but allowed in checked luggage.
  • DE or SE blades are prohibited in carry on luggage, but allowed in checked luggage.
  • Straight razors are prohibited in carry on luggage, but allowed in checked luggage.

If you have further questions or want a clarification, call the TSA Contact Center directly at 1-866-289-9673. In all cases, travelers should consult the above telephone number for clarification and not rely on hearsay or personal interpretations of the TSA regulations.

UK Department for Transport and Standards


From the DFT webpage, prohibited items listed under "Pointed/edged weapons and sharp objects" include "Open razors and blades (excluding safety or disposable razors with blades enclosed in cartridge)". If there were any doubt, they exclude items "that have the potential to be used as a pointed or edged weapons." The Aviation Security Act of 1982 includes language in Part I, Section 4, (2, c) that makes it an offence to possess (in addition to firearms, explosives, or items that look like firearms or explosives), in the aircraft, "any article (not falling within either of the preceding paragraphs) made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person or for destroying or damaging property, or intended by the person having it with him for such use, whether by him or by any other person." If found in possession of these items and found guilty in court, the prison sentence could be up to five years, plus a fine. The ease with which a single-edged, double-edged, or straight razor could be improvised to cause injury or death makes it likely that bringing these items on board an aircraft could result in prosecution under the Aviation Security Act of 1982.

Additionally, airports may implement even more restrictive provisions, at their discretion. Thus, some airports may choose to disallow other items. In this case, an appeal to the Department for Transport and Standards published lists of forbidden items may have no effect on your ability to carry items on board. It is important to check with the relevant airports if you have questions about specific hand baggage items.

Per a direct correspondence with the UK Department for Transport and Standards:
As noted above, the relevant text of the Aviation Security Act of 1982 can be found here.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority


From the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority webpage: safety razors -- including disposable razors, and razor blade cartridges are allowed on board; straight razors are not allowed on board, and neither are razor blades (that are not enclosed in a cartridge). All of these items may be checked.

European Union


All EU member states have adopted Regulation (EC) No 68/2004, which specifies the minimum standards measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security. The EU does not provide an exhaustive list of items, since "new types of potentially dangerous weapons can always be devised."[3] EC regulation No 2320/2002 prohibits straight razors in the passenger cabin because they, "even though not commonly thought of as a deadly or dangerous weapon, could be used as a weapon."[4] Similarly, blades 6 cm long and longer are prohibited.

As implemented, EC No 68/2004 includes the proscription against bringing the following items on board aircraft: "pointed/cutting weapons and sharp objects: pointed or bladed items capable of causing injury, such as axes, hatchets, arrows, crampons, harpoons, etc."

EC No 820/2008, Annex I, provides a more comprehensive list of items passengers may not carry on board. This list includes "pointed or bladed articles capable of causing injury, including ... open razors and blades (excluding safety or disposable razors with blades enclosed in cartridge)."

Here again, as open razor blades are capable of causing injury unless enclosed in a cartridge, SE, DE, and straight razors are forbidden from the passenger cabin of EU aircraft and all aircraft while in EU airspace.

Australia


The Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government restricts straight razors, boxcutters, and razor blades from the airline passenger cabin, along with numerous other items "with sharp edges or points capable of injuring a person." Their limits on liquids, aerosols, and gels are similar to those of the EU, UK, and US.
These restrictions are identical to those for travel within Australia.

Liquids and Gels


Per the the TSA webpage: Travelers may not bring liquids or gels in containers larger than 3.4 ounces capacity (100 ml/100 grams), and all liquids and gels must fit in a standard one-quart ziploc bag, the length + width dimensions of which are < 40 cm. Note that shaving creams count as a gel, and balms are either a gel or a liquid. Therefore shaving balms, creams, after shaves, colognes, pre/post oils, etc. must adhere to the TSA standards for liquids in carry-on luggage. Also note the container's maximum volume must be 100 ml or less--not just the actual amount of product left. For instance, if you have a half-full 200 ml tube of shaving cream, it will not be allowed in your carry on luggage. These restrictions apply to EU, UK, and Australian flights as well.

Suggestions for Travelers


Shaving brush and travel tube
Common suggestions for travelers carrying their shave equipment in carry-on luggage include:

  • Mail razor blades ahead of time to your hotel or lodging
  • Purchase razor blades at the destination
  • Pack razor blades and/or straight razors in checked luggage
  • Substitute your usual DE or straight blade with a cartridge or disposable razor during your trip
  • Ask a fellow B&Ber to bring you a blade or two at your destination
  • Carry a printout of the TSA webpage stating that safety razors are allowed as carry-on items, provided you are not carrying loose double-edged or single-edged blades.
  • Use a shave stick or soap when you travel to avoid packing and/or declaring a shave cream, since shave cream is considered a gel.
  • If you do not use shave sticks or hard soaps, consider taking a shave cream you don't mind losing, such as a mostly-used tube of an inexpensive brand
  • Use sample-sized containers of shaving products or obtain small jars/bottles from travel or camping stores
  • Pack a shaving brush in a hard (but ventilated) container such as a pill bottle or, more cheaply, a cardboard roll for toilet paper or paper towels
  • Use brushless cream or a synthetic-bristle brush on a multi-day trip if you won't have time to let your brush dry adequately
  • Be prepared to have your shaving gear inspected; pack it neatly and have it easily accessible
  • Remember that security/inspection staff have a broad authority to interpret their home-country rules/regulations, and that you are unlikely to win an argument over semantics or minutiae