Can You Bring Shells On A Plane

Beautiful seashells, coral, urchins, and starfish make lovely decorations and serve as a pleasant reminder of all the things you adore about beaches and sand. There is nothing better than taking the smell of the ocean home, but is it possible to pass an airport security screening, and can you take shells from Hawaii as an example?

So, can you take seashells on a plane? The simple answer is that, under the TSA, you are free to bring any seashells on a domestic aircraft, including conch shells, in carry-on and checked baggage.

It’s essential to research the customs and border protection of the place you’re traveling to before bringing seashells on a plane and flying internationally. In our guide, you can learn more about the international agreements that restrict certain species of things from being taken from one specific country to another because of a disease threat.

By the end, you’ll know if any seashells collected from saltwater beaches pose any threats, as they may carry microorganisms that could harm local wildlife. (Read Can You Take Hangers On A Plane)


Can you carry seashells through airport security in carry-on bags?

When passing through a security checkpoint at an airport in the US, there are no explicit TSA (Transportation Security Administration) seashells guidelines. You do not need to take them out and put them in a tray because they can stay in your carry-on bag while it is being x-rayed.

There is virtually no limit on the number of seashells you can bring through a domestic flight airport security either because they are often quite small. However, like most things, The final decision is up to the TSA officer if you can carry an empty shell through airport security.

Is it legal to take seashells from a beach?

In certain nations worldwide, including the US, in particular situations, it may be unlawful to steal seashells from beaches. For instance, it is prohibited in Florida to take a Queen conch shell with a living creature. Even if it is legal to take them, perhaps you should consider whether doing so is ethical or sustainable.

You can deny a hermit crab it’s next home when it outgrows its current one, even if you take an empty conch shell. It would be best if you didn’t pluck live shellfish from the water to bring the shell back home as a keepsake. The same holds for removing coral fragments to take home.

Can you bring seashells on a plane from Mexico?

Seashells from Mexico may be brought back to the US, but they must be absolutely free of sand or dirt and any sea life. Some types of seashells, including Queen Conch shells, appear to be prohibited from being taken outside Mexico by the Mexican government.

Therefore, it is better to leave the conch shells in their current location than to take seashells. You can also find that even getting seashells from gift shops overseas can be unethical according to their harvesting practices.

What Does the TSA Say About Seashells?

You might ask if you can bring saltwater sea shells on a plane if you collect them. The Transportation Security Administration has very nothing to say about seashells.

They only inform you that you could bring seashells on a plane in either checked or personal baggage. Overall, the TSA doesn’t care if you bring seashells on the plane because they don’t pose a threat to the airport or the aircraft.

Yet, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends not bringing seashells from other countries when flying internationally.

Where Should I Pack Seashells?

Now that you know you can bring seashells on board, you must choose whether to place them in your checked or carry-on bags. You won’t be required to pack them in either bag by a TSA agent. Instead, you can fill them in carry-on or checked bags from their perspective.

Therefore, you simply need to choose the bag that will reduce the likelihood that your shells will crack when you return to your target nation.

You can prevent the security checkpoint staff at the airport from mistreating them by placing them in your carry-on bag. Then, you won’t need to remove the shells from your luggage for the x-ray.

You should leave room in your carry-on for anything you might require, especially on lengthy overseas trips. You shouldn’t have broken items in your checked luggage as long as you cushion any fragile shells. (Learn How Wide Are The Seats On Southwest Airlines)

What Should I Know About Shells?

baggage inspection

You should know there are other barriers besides airport security. You must also take customs into account if traveling internationally by plane. When you arrive in your destination country, you must go through the customs declaration process for any seashells you have purchased or found.

Many nations have strict regulations regarding the shells you can bring on international flights. Therefore, a seashell or conch shell, as well as particular plants, woods, and coral, may occasionally be prohibited by customs.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture is the primary source of worry in the US (APHIS). The United States Government APHIS division is working to prevent the entry of invasive or dangerous species.

APHIS permits the transport of saltwater seashells as long as they are cleaned properly and free of any sand or dirt that could harbor microorganisms that make up a significant pest or disease hazard.

The criteria for freshwater shells are similar.

So, a Homeland Security or Customs and Border Protection officer will check the shells as you pass through customs to ensure you have seashells on a plane in your carry-on baggage without risk.

So, can you take seashells on a plane? The TSA is ultimately in charge of deciding which shells or other items they permit into the country. So, even on domestic flights, they can sway what you can carry in checked bags or carry-on luggage.

Taking shells out of their natural environment isn’t usually permitted. The nautilus and queen conch shells are two examples. Remember that you will need a permit to import these seashells into another nation if you plan to take them from the Caribbean. And occasionally, it’s just against the law. (Read Safest Places To Visit In South America)

Taking sea shells, such as conch shell from Florida containing a living organism, cannot be imported. Likewise, neither dead coral nor sand may be removed in Hawaii. Therefore, even when flying on a domestic flight, ensure you examine the laws and regulations for the USA or your destination country and what you can carry in your carry-on baggage or checked luggage.

Can you take seashells on a plane and through customs on international flights?

First, disclose any sea shells you may have when entering the US from abroad. On their page for international travelers, the United States Department of Agriculture website states:

Sea shells. Many kinds of seashells collected from saltwater beaches can be imported without a visa; however, certain nations have restrictions on importing, selling and exporting shells and shell products. However, the final determination is up to the security staff if they think taking sea shells and sea glass on a plane into the destination country (USA) poses no risk.

International treaties with other countries limit the import and export of specific species of seashells from various nations, such as the queen conch and nautilus. You can find answers to further questions on the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pages of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Besides this, you can discover there are restrictions for the entry of land snails/shells and many species of freshwater snails/shells. The reason here is as many foreign snail species are live, they are invasive pests and could harm U.S. agriculture and the environment. (Read Can You Bring Hangers On A Plane)

Should you have any of these stashed in your checked baggage, you could be in trouble once you reach an airport security checkpoint or customs area where your checked bags will be inspected. 

Can You Bring Shells On A Plane

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