In addition to a laptop, I use some Radio frequency (RF) Board for implementing a software-defined Radio function (E.g. virtual eNode-B or gNode-B) with a small pluggable omni-directional antenna.

Would that pose a problem when transiting in an airport when it is packed in the carry-on bagage along to a laptop?

For info: It's an USRP from National Instruments firm, Ettus Research Group.

  • What country is this about and is it domestic flight? (RF one needs to check carefully for international flights, could be export restricted, could be dual use, could violate other countries fcc regulations)
    – lalala
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 5:58
  • Airports are Canada, America, and France
    – Zico
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 6:29
  • So your company is handling the customs protokoll? (Maybe getting a Carnet ATA?) You can ask your companies office then to also check for export import restrictions.
    – lalala
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 10:33

3 Answers 3


It went smoothly In Paris CDG and Toronto Airport. None to be reported. Got it in my carry-on luggage along to my laptop.

Just had to get it out like the laptop when going through the screening process. At the end, it is just a Printed-Circuit-Board (Like Laptop's Motherboard) with electronic components onto it.


For the security check, it is just another electronic item. You can put it in your hand or checked luggage, and it is unlikely that anyone even cares what it does.

The other part is that most countries have special rules about radio devices, mostly on operation (but more authoritarian regimes may even ban possession outright). It is your responsibility to check those rules before bringing the thing.

For example: In Germany you'd be able to bring it and use it for reception but to send/broadcast you'll need a amateur radio license and stick to the approved frequency bands. I assume most western countries have similar rules.


I can see your concern: Ettus Range

Ettus 2 units

Having recognised that concern, how would I choose to mitigate it?

  1. Have the purchase document with you
  2. Have the spec sheet with you
  3. Have some form of document from the party you are visiting.

My guess is a device like this you are taking with you to attend some kind of function, maybe a conference or possibly a client. Having something, anything at all, that demonstrates your purpose in carrying this device is to use it in your destination is likely to go a long way towards making whomever sees it in their scanner feel more comfortable.

There is a reasonable chance that somewhere along your way - you will be asked to explain what this thing is by somebody who has little knowledge of RF, and whose sole purpose in evaluating your response is to determine if this is likely in any way to be a threat. recognising this in advance, will help you to have an appropriate response.

Many people in these jobs have some degree of skill in picking up on people who are shifty. People who are nervous. whether they get that from training or just "on the job". So don't be nervous. The most important part about traveling, and making it through security checks, is to not set off internal alarms by any of the security personnel.

When travelling I ALWAYS bear in mind 2 things:

  1. The person I am talking to is a human being
  2. You catch far more flies with Honey than Vinegar

Good Luck! (It would be really cool to know how your travel works out...)

  • I would disagree on putting it in checked luggage. Expensive electronics should generally not be checked, and airlines will disclaim all liability for it if it's damaged in a checked bag. And if it is in checked luggage, it may be singled out by security for inspection, and you won't be present while that happens. Security screeners are used to encountering people with electronic devices in carry-on bags. They may want to give it an extra look or ask you what it is. Sometimes they might ask you to demonstrate that it works (i.e. a light turns on when you turn it on, not actual functionality). Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 1:00
  • @ZachLipton Good points. I've updated my answer to take out the suggestion to check it...
    – kiltannen
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 1:06
  • Yes, exactly, I would be concerned if I send it in a checked baggage due to its fragility and typical harsh manoeuver of bags during transportation from/to carousels. Also, suppose, it's for short visit, I don't book checked baggage at all when traveling on a low cost airline which don't offer such luxury (checked luggage) without an additional price.
    – Zico
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 6:34
  • Frankly, I do not see any "concern". To most people this looks like a random piece of electronic equipment. People bring much weirder things through security every day. And the agents there won't usually care about what it does or what you want to use it for - only if it is within regulations for hand luggage.
    – averell
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 6:59
  • 1
    It's a funny idea, but I guarantee you, the people at the security checkpoint are not going to read your tech spec documents, nor anything evidencing "your purpose in carrying the device". They don't care about your documentation, and they only care a little bit whether you look "shifty". They'll swab it for explosive residue if they're worried.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 8:15

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