How many smartphones can I take on an airplane?

  • I'm a software developer and I need multiple different mobile devices for testing and debugging purposes. I also work on-the-go sometimes, so this is important. Furthermore, not everything can be tested on an emulator, so actual hardware devices are needed in certain cases.

    So, is there any limit on how many phones one can carry on an airplane in their cabin baggage? Will I successfully go through security and customs with, say, five phones, a tablet, and a laptop? They're all different and not new. Does that depend on my origin and/or destination airport/country? Will I be required to prove somehow that I actually need these, and if yes, how?

    Will they fit in your carry-on luggage?

    @MichaelHampton they definitely will. These are just phones themselves, without retail boxes.

    Wouldn't this depend greatly on airline policy and how paranoid security is ?

    Do you really need them all in your carry-on luggage? Perhaps packing all the non-essential ones in your stowed luggage would relieve a bit of this problem.

    @Rx7man provided how airport staff handles checked baggage sometimes, I wouldn't pack electronics in it unless I absolutely need them to be there instead of in carry-on.

    Not clear from your question, but if you work for a decent-sized company, just ask at work. Legal folks will be way more likely to know about import/export restrictions for your specific case.

    I traveled to Europe recently and took several GSM phones along for my traveling companions - TSA didn't care that I had 4 phones, 2 tablets, and a laptop with me. They even searched my bag because I had a prohibited tiny multi-tool with a 3cm long blade and didn't say anything about all of the electronics.

    Personal experience - I usually travel with 2 laptops, more than 6 phones and sometimes added tablets. Never had any issue with any of those ( and I travel a lot ) . that being said - of course the real answer depends on single case. Customs / Security and even Airline regulations should be all verified.

  • I am a software engineer and I also test the software on many different smartphones and tablets. I fly frequently within Europe, so my answer will be limited to this area. However, this is also from west to east and east to west, outside of the Schengen region! As a Dutch citizen, I rarely need a visa to travel, which makes this easy.

    I do carry a lot of devices with me; most of which either on my person or in my hand luggage. Airport security does give you a strange look when you put more than ten devices in your box to pass security, but I've never had any questions about it. In fact, my entire hand luggage often consists of an extra sweater or hoodie, and the rest is electronics.

    Just to be on the safe side of things, I do carry the paperwork to prove I am a software engineer and not a salesman. If customs ever ask about the amount of devices, they will probably do so because they think you're going to sell the devices to avoid taxes; to turn a bigger profit. I would highly doubt they would ever deem it a security issue.

    So in short, carry them with you, pretend all is normal (because it is!) and if they ask questions, answer honestly (probably always a good idea). If you travel between countries that have very different rules about taxing, do also carry a proof of employment, just to be on the safe side of things and to avoid a lot of hassle.

    Good answer, even if you do as you say it is illegal in some countries. See my answer below.

    @JoErNanO when you go though customs (in some parts of the world, like Australia), customs will also put things through various scanners. Not generally metal detectors but things they will pick up not just metals, but various food stuffs, fireworks and other things that are not allowed into the country. The point is if you are entering a country with a dozen mobile phones someone will notice (but probably not care). (Which while that is not the askers question is completely relevant)

    This is a good response. I also carry quite a few Electronics through various airports in the US and Globally, and I have gotten some funny looks from security personnel. I also carry proof of employment and my work ID (which has my Job Title on it.) I have only received trouble from security once, and that was in Egypt, so I was kind of expecting it before I arrived there. This doesn't really cover just phones, though, as I usually carried general electronic Items.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM