I am going to Australia to study for a Master's. I am an electrical engineer and I am thinking about taking my tools like a soldering station, screw drivers, etc along but I wonder if it will be allowed on a plane. I will be carrying one big suitcase for everything and a small backpack for minor items. Should I keep that soldering station in the big suitcase? Should I take it along?

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    Would it be easy/relatively cheap to buy it at your destination? Or is it an expensive or difficult to get bit of kit?
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 11:44
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    I just want to add something. Security staff/TSA can be judge jury and executioner at the airport. In that moment of time, they are the law and you have a plane to catch. It is better always to err on the side of caution. Your rights or copy of the laws mean nothing to a power tripping official. Just put it in the checked luggage. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 13:57
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    Don’t forget to check voltage. Make sure your tool can be used with Australia’s voltage.
    – vasin1987
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 16:53
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    In addition to the voltage, be sure that the converter plug you use is rated for the wattage of the iron. But what am I saying? You're an electrical engineer! D'uh! :-)
    – Eric Lloyd
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 21:47
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    @jcm Badum-psh!
    – L0j1k
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 13:01

4 Answers 4


Put it in the checked bag and you should be fine, assuming it's a conventional mains-powered soldering station. There is no reason to bring it into the cabin (they're not fragile, valuable or useful in-flight) so just don't do it. Some overzealous person might think you'll stick in a sharp point and stab someone or plug it into your in-seat power and proceed to employ thermal-rectal cryptanalysis techniques. Personal experience- I had bringing on on-board questioned (but not prohibited, but it hung on opinion) even before 9/11, and things have tightened up infinitely since then.

Of course butane or battery-powered soldering irons are entirely another matter.

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    Valuable is relative ... we know some specialized, professional grade ones run at $500... Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 10:22
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    Just to allay some fears in those of us who are not electrical engineers or cryptanalysts: can you confirm that using a soldering station to employ thermal-rectal cryptanalysis techniques does not mean shoving a piping-hot soldering iron up someone’s back side to get information out of them? ’Cause that’s what it sounds like it is, and I want my mummy now. Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 13:50
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Obligatory XKCD Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 14:02
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    This… does not do much to allay my fears! Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 14:03
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    @Janus Bahs Jacquet don't worry, you usually do not preheat the iron for TRCA. Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 17:20

I have, on occasion, had sharp-looking tools (regardless of whether they were actually sharp) taken off me at security. If you're checking a bag, put it in your checked bag. If you're not, at least unscrew the tip from the iron, so it looks less stabby.

I'm not aware of any country with travel restrictions that'd prevent you from taking a soldering station in a checked bag.

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    I had a small pair of needle-nose pliers confiscated. (Despite the name, of course they were not sharp or even slightly poke-y). The TSA agent claimed that no tools whatsoever are allowed on board - in case I should decide to disassemble the plane??
    – stannius
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 15:31

As others have said, these belong in checked baggage, not in-cabin.

You might want to prepare for questions at customs about your intent. One aspect would be: are these occupational tools, and do you intend to seek enmployment here? Another might be, are these bomb-making tools? Either way, I'd be prepared to convince them that you'll be using these things strictly in a harmless hobby or educational role.


Depending on how much stuff you are taking/how long you are spending in Australia, it might make more sense to box your equipment and other personal items that you won't need while travelling and ship them to your destination. This might then allow you to get by with one carry-on item which is more convenient for airline terminal transfers, buses/cabs, or any amount of walking. Also, if you happen to be booked on an airline that charges for checked-in bags, shipping your stuff might make financial sense as well.

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