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Can You Bring a Lighter On a Plane?

Can you bring a lighter on a plane? What would happen if you tried?

In this post, we’re going to discuss the rules and regulations when it comes to carrying a lighter through security and customs at the airport. We’ll focus primarily on traveling into and within the United States.

Please note that airport security rules are dynamic. The information in this article is based on current guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Can You Bring a Lighter On a Plane?

While it may come as a surprise, the answer is yes. According to the TSA, you can bring a cigarette lighter on a plane, either in your checked baggage or carry-on.

There are some exceptions, though.

You cannot pack a lighter that uses liquid fuel in your checked baggage unless it’s in a container approved by the TSA, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Department of Transportation (DOT). You can find these cases online or at some stores. Before you buy the case, make sure the packaging indicates that it is DOT-approved.

Even with the proper case, you can’t bring more than two lighters.

Further, while the rules state that you can bring a cigarette lighter on a plane, the TSA officers inspecting your baggage always have the final say.

You’ll notice that I keep saying cigarette lighter. There’s a good reason for that; aviation authorities prohibit pretty much all other types of lighters.

What Kind Of Lighter Can You Bring On A Plane

What Kind of Lighter Can You Bring On a Plane?

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions based on information from the TSA’s banned flammable item list.

Can you bring a BIC lighter on a plane?

Yes; you can bring one lighter in your carry-on baggage. You can pack two in your checked luggage but they must be in approved protective cases if they use fluid.

Can you bring a Zippo lighter on a plane?

Yes; you can bring one lighter in your carry-on baggage. You can pack two in your checked luggage but they must be in approved protective cases if they use fluid.

Can you bring an arc lighter on a plane?


Can you bring a plasma lighter on a plane?


Can you bring an e-lighter on a plane?


Can you bring torch lighters on a plane?


Can you bring matches on a plane?

It depends; one safety matchbook is permitted in your carry-on but not your checked baggage. Strike-anywhere matches are completely prohibited.

Can You Bring a Lighter On a Plane United States
Getting through airport security with your lighter is one thing; customs is the next step.

Bringing a Lighter in Your Carry-On Luggage Through Customs

Now, the above rules apply to airport security, namely the TSA. CBP is an entirely different beast and whether or not you have issues carrying your lighter through that stage will depend on a few things.

Of course, these only apply if you are on a flight that involves screening by CBP. That excludes most, if not all, domestic flights (flying from one U.S. airport to another).

Are You a Citizen Of the United States?

Whenever you attempt to enter the United States as a non-citizen, customs officials determine your eligibility. Even if you have a visa, the CBP officer at the airport has the ability to deny you entry.

So what does this have to do with lighters?

Well, if a U.S. CBP officer spots a lighter in your carry-on luggage (which they are allowed to search), they may ask questions to determine what you plan to use the lighter for. If you say “I’m going to California to smoke some weed” or indicate any other illegal drug use, you’re in trouble.

Of course, as an American citizen, you can’t be denied entry into the United States. Still, bringing a lighter in your checked bag or carry-on might invite an unwanted level of scrutiny should your response to questions about intent be unsatisfactory.

What Are You Bringing With the Lighter?

Make sure there’s nothing illegal (not even trace amounts) in the pouch with your lighter before you toss it into your checked baggage or carry-on.

Even legal substances come with their restrictions, though.

The TSA allows you to bring 100 cigars or 200 cigarettes into the United States. If you’re bringing more than that, you need to declare as such and pay the appropriate taxes.

If you’re traveling within the United States (say, a flight from Miami to New York City), you do not go through Customs, so this would not be a concern.

What Guard Do You End Up With?

United States CBP officers have a large amount of discretion when it comes to inspecting travelers. What might not prompt so much as a second glance from one officer might produce more thorough questioning from another. Always be prepared to answer questions concisely and confidently.

If you think packing a lighter might raise questions that you can’t answer confidently, consider leaving it at home and buying a new one when you arrive at your destination.

Can You Bring a Lighter On a Plane Worldwide
If your trip takes you into Canada, Mexico or the EU, make sure you know their rules as well.

Can You Bring a BIC Lighter On a Plane in Other Countries?

As mentioned earlier, this article focuses primarily on rules in the United States. Still, it’s worth briefly mentioning rules in other common travel destinations.


Canada has similar rules as the United States. According to the Government of Canada, passengers are allowed to bring disposable, USB, and Zippo-style lighters as well as a matchbook in their carry-on luggage.

As with TSA liquids rules, Canadian authorities do not let passengers bring lighter refills with them.

There are a couple of key differences between Canada’s rules in this regard and America’s. Air Canada states that you can only bring one of the above items in your carry-on.


According to Interjet, lighters and matches are not permitted in your checked baggage. You can bring them in your carry-on. As far as I can tell, the Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil’s website doesn’t get any more specific than that.

If you’re flying out of Mexico, contact your airline to find out details, such as how many lighters you can bring on the plane.

European Union

According to Air Canada, the European Union has similar rules concerning lighters as Canada. You can only bring one BIC-style lighter or one USB lighter or one matchbook.

If your travels take you to Britain, remember that Britain is no longer part of the European Union.

Some articles, like this one from The Independent, indicate that Britain currently has its own rules concerning lighters. Passengers are only allowed to bring one lighter on board. This lighter must be kept in a resealable plastic bag on your person for the duration of the flight. You’re not allowed to place the lighter in your checked luggage or carry-on.

Other TSA Flammable Items You Can’t Bring On Planes

Lighters, matches, cigarettes, and cigars are among the few flammable items the TSA permits on planes. As per the TSA, prohibited flammable items include (in addition to what we’ve already mentioned in the chart above):

  • Bang snaps (miniature firecrackers)
  • Full-sized firecrackers
  • Blasting caps
  • CO2 cartridges that aren’t empty
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Aerosol paint (or any other flammable paint)
  • Fuel
  • Gunpowder
  • Compressed gas cartridges


The TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection do allow passengers to bring cigarette lighters onto planes but there are restrictions. You are only allowed to bring one lighter in your carry-on and two in your checked luggage. In the latter case, you need to store your lighters in DOT-approved containers.

The TSA bans most lighters that aren’t the Zippo or BIC kind. That means you won’t be able to bring torch lighters, arc lighters, and the like on your flight.

If you are entering the United States, either as a citizen returning home or a foreign visitor, be prepared to answer questions at Customs concerning your intentions with the lighter. Several media reports indicate that any mention of activities that are illegal federally (namely, smoking cannabis) could cause issues.

Be sure to contact your airline directly if you have any more specific questions about TSA rules concerning bringing lighters on board.