Can you take CBD on a plane?

by Tim W. Shaw June 09, 2020

Can you take CBD on a plane

CBD oil is accepted in many countries across the world, but can you take it in your hand luggage when flying?

In most cases, CBD products that meet UK legal standards are allowed in your carry on if CBD is permitted at your destination airport. To ensure that you can breeze through security and arrive at your destination with CBD, you must check with airline or authority you will pass through in advance of travelling.

To make this easier, we’ve spoken to airlines and airports, including British Airways, Jet2 and Ryanair, Heathrow and Gatwick. From detailed research and what they told us; we've compiled all the information you will need to get you started. From there you can follow our tips for a trouble-free journey.

Can you bring CBD to the UK?

Can you bring CBD to the UKCurrently, CBD is legal in the UK; however, it must meet the following requirements:

Each container must hold no more than 1mg of a controlled cannabinoid such as THC or CBN.

It must be labelled as a 'food supplement'. This is a requirement for all CBD products currently sold in the UK that don't have a medicinal product licence. If you have prescribed medication containing CBD, it will fall under the UK guidelines regarding medicines in your hand luggage. You will also need to carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from the prescribing medical professional.

It should be in a form in which restricted cannabinoids THC or CBN can't be easily separated from the oil. Most full-spectrum oils contain traces of THC in a form that is impossible to extract without complex, specialised processes and equipment.

Novel food authorization

airport liquids CBD bagFollowing the 31st March 2021, only products that have received novel food authorisation from the FSA will be legal for sale and consumption in the UK. This process will confirm that a product complies with the above requirements and meets novel food guidelines.

If you arrive in the UK with a CBD product that meets these requirements, it can be legally accepted. To comply with airport restrictions, it should be in a container holding less than 100ml and be presented to security in a separate, transparent plastic bag measuring no more than 20cm x 20cm.

Because CBD is still new to some people, it is essential to contact your destination airport directly before you travel. Some airlines and airports don't fully understand the difference between CBD as a legal food supplement and assume that it must be a prescribed medicine.

For example, when I contacted Jet2, they responded:

"You're able to carry CBD oil on board providing you have evidence of the prescription for ease of passing through the airport to avoid having it confiscated at any point."

message from jet2

However, Gatwick Airport gave reassurance by saying that CBD oils were allowed as long as they followed the rules for liquids in hand luggage:

"[Y]ou can take oils through, please place this into one of the clear bags provided[.]"

message from Gatwick

Can you take CBD in your carry on?

When boarding a plane from a UK airport, you can take CBD oil in your carry on. Each airport or airline may have a different approach, but legally it is fine to take it through security and on to your flight.

British Airways were very clear that CBD is fine in your carry on:

"you can take CBD oil on board as long as it’s under 100ml."

message from British Airways

While it may be ok to take on board, a large part of the legality of taking CBD with you depends on where you are going. Heathrow told us that you should check with both the airline and your destination airport to ensure a trouble-free journey:

"we would advise contacting the airline directly and we would advise contacting the airport you will be flying to."

message from Heathrow

When planning your journey, it is essential to bear in mind the different organisations and governments involved in your complete voyage. Because CBD is still relatively new, many people still strongly associate it with illegal drug cannabis. Even in the UK, you may come across people willing to assume that it is illegal or not allowed on a plane.

When you leave the UK, you will also find that different countries have different approaches and even in areas where it is legal, it could be subject to confiscation. To address any concerns, plan ahead and research each stage of your journey.

Can you travel to the EU with CBD?

European union flag hempCurrently, the UK and EU follow the same broad regulations relating to CBD. While most countries accept the use of CBD as a legal food supplement, there are some significant differences. Some countries still consider it illegal, and others may detain or question you despite its legal status.

If you are carrying a legal UK CBD oil, it is legal to take it into Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Switzerland and Poland without the need for a prescription or further documentation.

In Spain, you can enter the country with CBD from the UK, but it cannot be bought or sold in the country unless it is an ingredient in a cosmetic product. If you are heading to Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland or Malta, you can only take CBD that has been prescribed by a medical professional and you can present the prescription.

In France, CBD is legal but is generally considered to be an illicit substance. You may face no problems, but authorities are likely to have questions regarding its contents. In Slovakia CBD is illegal and you risk prosecution if you are caught with it. In Sweden, CBD oil is legal but must not contain any THC, CBD oil containing traces of THC is still considered as a drug.

Can I return to the UK with CBD purchased abroad?

It is worth remembering that not all EU countries will manufacture CBD to the same legal standards as those in the UK. If you are returning with CBD oil purchased in another country, it is essential to ensure it contains less than 1mg THC or CBN per container.

Can you take CBD oil through US customs?

US at nightWhile cannabis and CBD are both considered legal in some areas of the US, the precise situation can vary greatly depending on where you land.

At a federal level, CBD derived from hemp is legal, but it mustn't be marketed with any medical claims or be added to food. CBD products extracted from cannabis strains are not permitted and could get you in trouble on the plane or at customs. If you do bring CBD into the US, ensure that is clearly labelled as derived from hemp.

However, at a state level, there are still cases of CBD products being seized and even drivers delivering products across state lines are being arrested for drug trafficking. Even though CBD derived from hemp is considered to be legal by the state, there are many areas where there are confusing and contradictory restrictions.

When travelling to the US with CBD ensure that it contains less THC than the US federal limit of 0.3% and check the situation with the airport you are going to. Even if you know that CBD is legal in the state you are heading to you could still fall foul of local regulations, so always check first.

Can you travel to Dubai with CBD?

DubaiIn the United Arab Emirates CBD is considered to be the same as cannabis and carries the same penalties. The UK Foreign Office state that: "If you're entering the country with medication that the UAE classes as narcotic, psychotropic, controlled or semi-controlled, approval is needed from the UAE authorities." In their advice to travellers, the UAE list all controlled medications; cannabis and related products are clearly prohibited with no documentation that would allow it to be treated legally.

During the first three months of 2019, over 100 tourists were arrested in Dubai for possessing CBD and similar cannabis oils. Several of those detained had attempted to keep the CBD hidden in unlabelled vape cartridges. Whatever the situation, taking CBD into any part of the UAE is strongly discouraged. If caught, the minimum sentence for possession is two years.

Tips for travelling with CBD

To ensure that your flight goes without a hitch these are our top tips for travelling with CBD:

  1. Check with your outgoing airport, airline and destination airport. Visit their website or social media channels to look for any statement about CBD. To get a definitive answer contact them directly and make careful notes of their advice and suggestions.
  2. Research the rules and regulations in your destination country and the local area. Make sure this includes how the local authorities enforce them.
  3. If you decide to take CBD with you take full, unopened bottles of less than 100ml. Place them in a clear plastic bag as you would for any other liquids in your hand luggage.
  4. Where possible, print a copy of the certificates of analysis provided by the CBD company and keep it with the oil. Make sure that the THC level displayed on the document shows that it is at a level that is legal in the country you are visiting.
  5. Take all relevant packaging with you, including any extra boxes or labels that came with the oil when you bought it.

Places to be avoided if travelling with CBD

Here are some of the areas that when visiting you may need to leave the CBD at home. Some countries don’t make their approach to CBD known but these ones have given a strong indication that it isn’t welcome:

Globe worldAfrica – Apart from in South Africa, there is little distinction of CBD as separate from cannabis in any African country. There may be a small market for it, but small amounts of marijuana can result in hefty penalties, so it best not to risk taking CBD to African countries.

Albania – Cannabis products, including CBD, are illegal here.

Belarus – With no distinction between hemp and cannabis, CBD is completely illegal here.

Bolivia – Cannabis and CBD are both completely illegal here.

Bosnia and Herzegovina – All cannabis and related by-products are illegal here.

China – China has recently begun mass production of hemp for export to supply the growing global demand for CBD products. Domestically, hemp is only legal for industrial use and is not permitted for use as a food supplement. The situation may change soon, but currently, you should not bring any CBD product on a flight to China.

However, in Hong Kong CBD is viewed as legal. You may be able to fly here with products with low levels of THC. Don’t bring CBD here unless you’ve spoken directly to your destination airport.

view from planeIceland - In some places, CBD products can be found, but the official approach is that there is no distinction between cannabis and CBD.

Russia - Hemp is illegal to cultivate and sell here. Some people do try and sell CBD products, but it is considered illegal.

Serbia – All cannabis by-products, including CBD, are illegal here.

Singapore – Currently CBD still falls under their zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs, but they are exploring the possibilities of CBD, so this may change.

South Africa – Recent law changes have legalised the use of some CBD. Still, the rules only allow for preparations that contain a maximum daily dose of 20 milligrams of CBD, products that don't refer to specific diseases and those that contain no more than 0.001% of THC and not more than 0.0075% total CBD.

South Korea - Here, CBD is only legal for medical purposes from a shortlist of approved drugs.

Taiwan – Hemp in some forms is legal here, but situation is confused. As a result, it is best not to bring any CBD products. If you do, you risk being prosecuted for cannabis possession.

Conclusion

The recent growth in popularity of CBD has occurred quicker than policymakers, regulations and authorities can keep up with. The result is that any travel by air can be hard to predict without detailed research. To reduce any risks, when carrying CBD on a flight, follow our tips and make sure that you have spoken to the relevant airlines and authorities.

While flying with CBD requires extra preparation and research, it is still worth doing. Not only will you be able to access your favourite CBD oil on your journey, but you will be raising awareness of the difficulties faced by CBD consumers globally. The more people you speak to about CBD, the more companies, airports and airlines will see the need to update their policies.

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Tim W. Shaw
Tim W. Shaw

Author

Tim W. Shaw writes extensively about CBD oil, cannabis and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.


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