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United States — Security Screening at the Airport, 3-1-1 Carry-on luggage rules, guidelines

When you arrive at a screening security station at a U.S. airport you need to have following rules and guidelines in mind to avoid delays and complications.

The following information are researched and compiled from the official TSA website and we have added the source links which you should visit as well.

3-1-1 TSA Liquids Rule (United States)
3-1-1 TSA Liquids Rule (United States) [illustration by TSA, 2020]

3-1-1 Liquid rule

Liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes, in limited quantities, are safe to bring in carry-on baggage and must comply with the following rules:

  • 3.4 ounces or less for liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes.
  • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold the liquids.
  • 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin
3-1-1 Liquid Rule explained by TSA


Medications in pill, liquid or other solid form are allowed but must undergo security screening. Passengers may bring medically necessary liquids, medications and creams in excess of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in their carry-on bag. These items should be removed from the carry-on bag to be screened separately. Liquid medication is not required to be in a plastic zip-top bag. Ice packs, frozen gel packs, and other accessories required to cool medically necessary liquids must be completely solid at the security checkpoint. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as other medically necessary liquids.

TSA Official Website with lots of travel information: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/

Inbound International Flights

You may carry duty free liquids in secure, tamper–evident bags, more than 3.4 oz or 100 ml in your carry-on bag if:

  • The duty free liquids were purchased internationally and you are traveling to the United States with a connecting flight.
  • The liquids are packed in a transparent, secure, tamper-evident bag by the retailer and do not show signs of tampering when presented to TSA for screening.
  • The original receipt for the liquids is present and the purchase was made within 48 hours.

TSA Tips: “The items inside the secure, tamper-evident bags must be screened and cleared. Any item that alarms or is unable to be screened will not be permitted in your carry-on bag. We recommend packing all liquids, gels, and aerosols that are over 3.4 oz or 100 ml in your checked baggage, even if they are in a secure, tamper-evident bag.”

Liquids Rule (TSA source): https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule

Security Screening at the Airport – What Can I Bring?

Planning ahead and packing properly can facilitate the screening process and ease your travel experience at the airport. Know what you can pack in your carry-on and checked baggage before arriving at the airport by reviewing the lists below. Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.

Check out the TSA website for latest information: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all

For items not listed there, simply snap a picture or send a question to AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or Twitter.

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