The TSA have a simple rule that you can follow to determine if your screwdriver will be allowed through airport security or not.
According to TSA guidelines, you can bring screwdrivers that are shorter than 7 inches (17.78 cm) on a plane, packed in both your carry-on and checked bags.
Screwdrivers longer than 7 inches must only be packed in your checked bag.
The TSA determine the length by measuring the start of the screwdriver from one end to the other when assembled.
This rule is in place because the TSA has determined, for whatever reason, that the cut-off is 7 inches because screwdrivers longer than 7 inches can be used as a weapon.
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Electric Screwdrivers Must Go in Your Checked Bag
Regardless if you want to bring an electric screwdriver that is shorter than 7 inches or longer than this, you must always pack the tool in your checked bag.
If you don’t, it will be confiscated by a TSA officer.
Tighter Restrictions on International Flights
When flying internationally, the restrictions are tighter.
According to the EU, “tools with a blade or a shaft of more than 6 cm capable of use as a weapon, such as screwdrivers and chisels” are not allowed in your carry on”.
The CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) also apply the same rule.
For reference, 6 cm is just 2.36 inches.
In my opinion, regardless if you’re flying domestically or internationally, it would be better to pack your screwdriver in your checked bag if at all possible.
You Can Bring Screws
According to the TSA, you can bring fasteners, such as screws and bolts, on a plane.
You can pack these in both your carry-on and checked bags.
Drill bits must only be packed in your checked bag, though.
Bringing Other Tools on a Plane
What the TSA state about screwdrivers apply to all other tools as well.
So any tool you want to bring on a plane can be packed in either your carry-on or checked bag if it measures less than 7 inches long when fully assembled.
If the tool is longer than 7 inches, you must only pack it in your checked bag.
All power tools, regardless of their size, must also only be packed in your checked bag, too.
You should also keep in mind that the final decision whether an item is allowed through airport security or not rests with the TSA officer at the security checkpoint at the time.
I have seen on several occasions, TSA officers refusing to let a passenger bring an item because they deem it a security risk, even though the TSA’s official website says that the item is allowed.
This tends to happen more often with sharp objects than anything else.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).