Can I bring empty bullet shell casings (spent ammo) in checked luggage on an international flight?
I am on vacation in Russia and was given several spent .38 bullet shell casings as a souvenir. They were fired recently and presumably still have residue on them.
I'll be flying domestic within Russia and the United States, and international from Moscow to San Francisco with a layover in Frankfurt. I would like to bring the shell casings home with me, but only if they are unlikely to cause any problems.
My plan is to put them in a ziplock bag, all alone in an outside pocket of my checked suitcase.
Is this likely to cause any problems either within Russia or the US or on the international flights? If so, is there anything I can do do mitigate the issues?
Having lost items out of outside pockets from check-in luggage, I advice you to use something to prevent the pocket from opening by accident. (It will not stop a thief but it might cause him to look for easier prey.)
@Blackbird57 probably they would, but if the items are permitted it does not matter whether the dogs can find them.
I wanted to take spent ammo and shotgun shells from SFX to HAJ through CDG with Air France in my check-in luggage. I asked at the check-in desk if that would pose a problem. They didn't know, asked their superior and came up with that it is probably OK, but advised not to do it. They offered to take the plastic bag and dispose of them. I never learned if it would have been ok.
I had a big hassle in Dubai airport because I had spent casings in my checked bags from LAX. Funny part was Dubai was a layover both the US where I departed and my final destination didn't care. The casing were even in my checked bags. The security delayed me so much I missed my flight. Had to wait 8 hour for the next flight after already having a 5 hour layover. Not worth the hassle
The TSA website does not list casings as a prohibited nor restricted item. Given than live ammunition is listed as being allowed as a checked-in item (given it is packed correctly), i doubt spent casings are an issue at all.
I couldn't easily find a list from IATA, but that could be helpful for the international and Russian domestic legs of your trip. IATA does mention that restrictions apply to "items [that] may endanger the safety of an aircraft or persons on board it".
Spent casings do not meet this criteria, nevertheless to remove any doubt i suggest you can call your airlines to confirm.
I also agree with Willeke. I'd recommend putting your casings in the middle of your clothing to avoid losing them and being damaged. If you're worried about security breaking your luggage open to inspect your casings, i suggest you keep it unlocked and carry all your other valuables as hand-luggage. I've been doing this for years in many countries without "losing" anything.
Another option is to send it via mail (or courier if you can afford) to yourself.
If they are seen on x-ray or sniffed by dogs, TSA will open the bag to inspect. When they open a bag, my experience is that afterward, it looks like the contents were put back in by a dump truck. My laptop had been removed from it's padded bag the first time, and not put back, and the second time other things were broken.