Since 9/11, we’ve seen a significant increase in airport security. Although body armor isn’t considered a weapon, taking it on your flight is still a big deal.
But can you take body armor onboard a plane? Are you allowed to wear it? In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about body armor and airplanes.
General Body Armor Laws
Before going into specifics, let’s talk about general body armor rules.
In the US, body armor can be bought, owned, and worn by adult individuals, as long as they aren’t felons. Felons, however, can neither purchase, own, nor wear body armor. In this case, the only exception is having a job that warrants and requires wearing protective gear. If a felon needs to wear body armor while on the job, they still need written permission from their employer.
The state-specific laws regarding body armor pertain to two main things: purchase methods and potential sentence enhancement in case the user commits a violent crime. For example, Connecticut prohibits any form of buy/sell transactions of body armor that isn’t in-person. In California, your sentence can be enhanced by one, two, or three years if you wear body armor while committing a violent crime.
Can You Wear Body Armor on a Plane?
Now that we’ve gone through the general regulations concerning body armor let’s address the specifics of wearing it on a plane.
So, can you wear a protective vest during a flight? No – you cannot wear a bulletproof vest in an airport, even if you’re a law-abiding citizen. You cannot wear it on a plane. This is mostly because ballistic vests can end up causing panic among passengers during flights.
Wherever you land in the US, once you’re out of the airport, you can wear your body armor with the full power of the law behind you.
Can You Bring Body Armor Onto an Airplane?
Technically, it’s legal for you to put body armor inside checked baggage. You can also put it inside your in-cabin carryon bag. So, yes, body armor is allowed aboard a plane, as long as it’s inside a suitcase.
Still, according to the TSA, the final decision regarding whether or not your body armor will be confiscated rests with their officers. If they choose so, a TSA officer will prevent you from going through the checkpoint with a protective vest. This might happen even if you properly and securely store the body armor inside your checked baggage.
Keep in mind that all of this goes for flying within the United States’ borders – international travel is entirely different.
What About International Flights?
International travel, even to neighboring countries, involves rules that differ from country to country. Seeing how the body armor law isn’t identical in all US states, you can expect even larger discrepancies from other destinations.
Countries have different regulations and laws when it comes to body armor. If you insist on it, you should research the country’s laws or countries that you’re planning to visit and check the legality and all relevant body armor regulations.
If a country that you’re flying to doesn’t allow civilian ownership of body armor, the TSA might let you board the plane, but you may end up in trouble once you land. Even if civilians are allowed to wear body armor in that country, traveling regulations might not. Careful research can go a long way to helping you avoid unnecessary complications.
However, the best way to go would be to avoid carrying body armor outside of the US borders.
To give you a better feel of how individual countries are oriented toward buying body armor, owning, and wearing it, we’ve researched the laws of different jurisdictions.
In Australia, for instance, having body armor on your person is illegal if you find yourself without authorization in Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, NSW, and ACT.
In Canada, for British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba, you’re breaking the law if you don’t have a license to own body armor.
The EU has the strictest regulations regarding ballistic vests. In most EU countries, body armor is for military use only.
Wherever you travel, make sure that you declare body armor, whether it’s in your carryon bag or checked baggage. If you land in one of these territories or a territory with similar restrictions, you might end up under arrest. However, if you do declare it, you’ll probably end up losing the protective vest upon landing.
Still, having your body armor confiscated is much better than committing an international felony. As a felon, you won’t be able to own a bulletproof vest in the US.
Body Armor Plates
It’s important to note that the plates used in body armor are still considered body armor. This means that they fall under the same rules and regulations as body armor. TSA is even less likely to allow you to take the plates through the checkpoint compared to full-on body armor.
Body Armor on Airplanes
Many Second Amendment activists say that you’re fully entitled to wear body armor on airplanes. However, TSA guidelines clearly state that body armor is only allowed in carryon and checked bags.
However, these rules dictate that their officers can confiscate body armor from your checked or carryon bags if they decide to do so. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid carrying body armor while traveling by plane – even more so if you’re traveling to a foreign country.
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