If you want to bring a toy gun on a plane, you might be thinking it would be no big ideal. I mean, they’re toys. What possible harm can they do?
While the TSA generally sees it this way, you need to take a few precautions before bringing them on a plane.
In short, while you can technically bring toy guns on a plane in both your carry-on and checked bags, you need to make sure that they don’t resemble a realistic firearm or weapon if packed in your carry-on.
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What the TSA Defines as a “Realistic Firearm”
Here’s the kicker, what the TSA deems a realistic firearm is very different to what you might expect.
You will have trouble bringing a nerf or even squirt gun in your carry on and through airport security because to the X-ray scanner, any toy gun can actually look like a realistic firearm, even though they might not resemble one in person.
So we recommend packing any toy gun in your checked bag to ensure a smooth screening process with no delays.
How to Determine if a Toy Gun Will Be Allowed
While the final decision always rests with the officer at the security checkpoint, a good rule of thumb to determine if a toy gun will be allowed through the security checkpoint is if it has a similar shape to an actual firearm.
If so, it would be best to pack the toy gun in your checked bag.
Bringing Toy Guns on International Flights
If you want to bring a toy gun in your checked bag, you’ll be fine to do so in most instances when traveling to most international destinations, as long as it doesn’t resemble a firearm.
If you want to bring a toy gun in your carry on, though, it can depend.
CATSA, for example, state that “most people would not mistake a toy weapon for a real weapon. These are permitted in carry-on and in checked bags.”
In the UK, there was a story where airport security confiscated the tiny toy gun from a Toy Story Woody doll.
It would be best to pack any toy guns in your checked bag when flying internationally, but keep in mind that the U.S. is one of the few countries in the world where firearms are legal and passengers are allowed to fly with them in their checked bag.
So if you want to bring a toy gun in either your carry on or checked bag, you better make sure that it doesn’t resemble a firearm in any way and wouldn’t be mistaken for one on an X-ray scanner.
While in some instances the TSA state that you are allowed to bring an item on a plane, but the airline have their own regulations, this doesn’t apply to toy guns.
So, you can pack toy guns in your checked bag and won’t run into any issues.
As you are allowed to pack a real firearm in your checked bag, it’s no surprise that toy guns are also allowed in your checked bag.
If you attempt to bring a toy gun on a plane in your carry-on, the most likely consequence is that it will be confiscated by a TSA officer at the security checkpoint.
If you pack a toy gun in your checked bag, it’s unlikely anything will happen at all, though there’s a small possibility that your bag will be opened, so an airport security officer can take a closer look at your bag’s contents.
How to Pack a Toy Gun for Flying
As mentioned, we recommend packing any toy guns you want to bring in your checked bag.
This may sound weird, but you might also want to think about declaring them as firearms, or at the very least informing your airline that you’re flying with an item that resembles a gun.
To an airport scanner, a toy gun can look like a real firearm, so your bag won’t get flagged if you declare the item. This also has the benefit of baggage handlers handling your luggage more carefully.
Just make sure that you get to the airport a little earlier, so you have time to fill out the form and go through the process of declaring a firearm.
Be Careful With Replica Explosives
According to the TSA, replica explosives like toy hand grenades are not only not allowed in your carry-on, but they also aren’t allowed in your checked bag either.
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).