How and Can I Travel With Body Armor?

How and Can I Travel With Body Armor?

It is important to recognize the rules and regulations associated when traveling with body armor and any other gear that you may own. Although there aren’t as many as some people would believe, there are quite a few details to consider when one wants to bring protective gear, like the RTS Tactical’s complete body armor kit, during trips.

Traveling With Body Armor By Flight

The TSA (the United States Transportation Security Administration) generally permits body armor to be included in carry-on and checked luggage, though whether the body armor is permitted to pass checkpoints is ultimately at the discretion of the TSA officers onsite. It is important to be prepared for a scenario where the TSA officer does not permit body armor for travel. In that case, one should allow adequate time and set up alternate plans to have the gear securely returned to either the vehicle, at home, or a secured storing location. Perhaps it can be given to someone who could bring it to one of those places from the airport. Failure to plan for this possibility will result in missing a flight or having the gear confiscated.

Understandably, traveling with body armor will entail security concerns, so any party will likely be subject to more extensive and potential secondary searches, as well as conversations with TSA agents. As this is the case, it is important to give ample time at the airport to allow for security delays and at the gate.

Traveling With Body Armor Domestically

Body armor is legal in all 50 states in the US, so moving from one state to another with such gear should not be much of an issue. However, domestic airline flights will have stricter regulations and more specific restrictions regarding what they permit for travel. The rules might differ slightly based on the airline in question. Before traveling, those transporting body armor should research their particular airline’s rules and restrictions regarding traveling with various gears before packing them to bring to the airport.

Traveling With Body Armor Internationally

Not all countries will permit possession and transport of body armor, so it is important to research the matter thoroughly when traveling internationally. Looking into the laws of each particular country is vital in this regard because it is that country’s regulations and laws that will dictate whether traveling with body armor into their borders will be permitted. 

These regulations are not always unilateral or monolithic. Certain countries may allow certain levels of body armor, but disallow others. One example to illustrate this point is Australia where permission to transport body armor depends on prior authorization from the country’s Minister of Home Affairs or a person with authority to grant such permissions.

The State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) will have the latest exportation requirements when leaving the United States. As the rules may undergo major and minor changes at any time, it is important to consult their website for those regulations on body armor. Customs Border Patrol (CBP) agents will likely require proof of body armor registration at airports before it is allowed to be transported on the plane.

Body Armor: Carry-On Or Check?

The predominant factor affecting body armor transport is its weight. Varying body armor types span a wide spectrum of weights, though consideration should be made for the pieces of body armor being combined. The pounds will add up quickly. The carrier will face a serious weight issue in lugging around body armor pieces as carry-ons, so it would make more sense to check them with luggage. However, most airlines have a weight limit on luggage, so if it exceeds the threshold, it will result in additional fees. Some may opt for a secondary luggage bag to distribute the weight, but that will only result in fees for the additional piece of check-in luggage, something charged for by most contemporary airliners. This could exceed excessive weight fees.

RTS Tactical offers lighter and concealable options like the Advanced Sleek 2.0 plate carrier and the Level IIIA soft armor, which can stop all common handgun rounds including .357 Magnum, .357SIG, 9mm, .40 S&W, 45ACP and 44 Magnum and .38 Special, as well as most shotgun rounds, including slugs and buckshot.

Checked body armor should have no issue with airport security, though it is important to neatly and clearly place the registration of the body armor alongside it in the checked bag if it gets inspected by TSA agents. If the information is provided, the body armor will likely be deemed safe to check and little issue will be encountered in the process. 

Those who opt to carry their body armor on-board will need to package it in a tight and compact bag. It is also important to remember that certain body armors will contain metal materials, like the Level III AR500 and Level III+ AR600, which will trigger metal detector activity. Though most Kevlar material is formulated from synthetic plastics, these will not set them off. The Level III AR500 Armor is capable of stopping multiple rifle rounds of up to powerful 7.62x51 (M80) while the Level III+ AR600 provides a multi-hit protection against 5.56x45 M193, 5.56x45 M855. To avoid any inconvenience during check-in, one may opt to bring a Level IV Ceramic plate instead. This ultralight plate is capable of stopping 5.56mm NATO; .308 M80; 7.62x45; and up to the powerful .30-06 APM2 as per NIJ 0101.06.

Can Body Armor Be Worn On The Plane Or At The Airport?

Body armor cannot be worn at the airport or on a plane as it will set off many concerns among TSA, airline employees, and fellow passengers. The reason TSA permits checking or carrying on certain body armor is to imply that wearing it is outside of legal regulations. While owning body armor is legal across all of the United States and can be transported across state lines, wearing is not permitted. 

You Can Travel With Body Armor

Traveling with body armor is permitted as long as the traveler abides by the rules and regulations of the law, local airport ordinances, and airlines. While carry-on of body armor is generally permitted, the experience is expedited and more hassle-free when the armor is checked in with luggage. 

Do you have any additional tips on making traveling with body armor easier, faster, and more convenient? Let us know in the comments below.

Back to blog