I'm making a trip back home (to the coast) shortly, and I would like to bring back sand from the beach with me as a keepsake or memento. It's just a short weekend trip, and I won't be checking any luggage, so I was wondering if it's even worth bothering trying to bring sand aboard the plane in my carry-on?

If so, what can I do to make the security screening as smooth as possible? I was planning on putting the sand in sandwich-sized plastic bags, enclosed in a larger quart- or gallon-sized bag.

  • 11
    Rub your beach towel in the sand and pack it in normally !!! at home, just collect everything! :-)
    – Max
    Jul 22 '15 at 18:35
  • 3
    I went to Italy for a month and was afraid to bring it back with me in my bags because they were really strict so I bough my kids a couple cheap outfits and wrapped it up and shipped it from the post office to my house it came 3 weeks later 🤷🏼‍♀️
    – Tfhshev
    Feb 21 '20 at 9:49
  • @Tfhshev Whether taking it yourself or sending per post, it's still illegal in Sardinia - so it's really nothing to boast about. Why Sardinia's tourists taking sand as souvenir face fine - BBC News Sep 8 '20 at 13:49

It isn't a weapon, tool, flammable, explosive, chemical or liquid, so I can't imagine that it would be a problem. It isn't listed by the TSA as a prohibited item. I'd say just put it in the bottom of your bag and not worry about it.

If you are travelling internationally, you may have an issue with customs depending on your country of origin and destination, but it isn't a concern from a security screening perspective.


While I was going to add this as a comment, I think it's more suitable as what SHOULD be the answer.

While it may be fun to do, environmentally you really shouldn't do it. In addition to potential disease transfers, bugs or contamination, if everyone did this, think how it'd affect the beach! You're essentially doing what would take erosion a lot longer to achieve, and is really not a good idea.

Further reading on countries / places where it's been a big problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_theft

Note that they're now actively fining people in Italy for doing this.

Updated article on CNN today about sand theft problems and fines.

  • 7
    I'm sure taking away a bit of sand would never hurt. :)
    – Ankur Banerjee
    Feb 12 '12 at 23:33
  • 12
    @AnkurBanerjee if a million tourists each take away a pound of sand, that's half a million pounds of sand removed from a beach. On a small island that's a lot.
    – jwenting
    Feb 13 '12 at 6:54
  • 14
    I always hate such 'calculations' because nobody - not even the OP - here is talking about taking away a POUND of sand.
    – Ankur Banerjee
    Feb 13 '12 at 10:12
  • 24
    The removal of sand from beaches is actually enough of a problem to be outlawed in some places.
    – TRiG
    May 31 '13 at 20:31
  • 4
    @AnkurBanerjee a pound isn't that much: it's a little more than a cup. OP says "I was planning on putting the sand in sandwich-sized plastic bags", so who knows, maybe a pound.
    – DavidS
    Jun 28 '16 at 21:00

Internationally is a problem for soil, but not domestic. You shouldn't have an issue with TSA at all.

  • 1
    Do you have any official information about it?
    – VMAtm
    Aug 11 '11 at 9:22
  • No official info, but when I came back from Afghanistan it was one of the big things they checked for. The security screeners told us domestic wasn't an issue, the only problem was internationally because of diseases not native to North America being brought over.
    – Slayd
    Aug 19 '11 at 12:49
  • 6
    most countries bar the import of biological materials, and that includes soil, without a special license. This can lead to high fines, expulsion, even prison for carrying things as seemingly harmless as an apple or a tuna sandwich off an international flight.
    – jwenting
    Feb 13 '12 at 6:53
  • 2
    @jwenting in my experience bringing good such as apples and sandwiches generally leads to confiscation and destruction of the item, but no additional punishment unless the traveler was deceptive.
    – phoog
    Jun 3 '17 at 17:50
  • @phoog and failure to list those items on a customs form can be deemed "deceptive", especially if the traveler goes on to try and argue with the customs officers.
    – jwenting
    Jun 6 '17 at 5:56

It is not a problem with TSA.
Last year, the only suitcase that was opened by the TSA was the one with a small bottle of sand.

The airport was San Fransisco
The destination was Europe

  • 1
    What do you mean? You were carrying sand and had several suitcases on this trip, they opened only that one and had no objection against the sand?
    – Relaxed
    Mar 11 '14 at 10:51
  • 1
    You are right. Besides the sand, all suitcases where the same (clothes, souvenirs, ...) The bottle of sand may be opaque to XRays. Bottles were not removed from the suitcase
    – Christ-OFF
    Mar 11 '14 at 16:42
  • "The airport was San Francisco The destination was Europe"..this sounds really weird in an international (non-US) forum..
    – guest
    Sep 9 '20 at 11:24

I brought black sand back to Canada from Dominica (an island in the Caribbean) last month. I kept the sand in a water bottle and I travelled carry on only. When TSA opened my bag, they asked me what it was and I told them “oh that’s some black sand I brought home with me from Dominica. I’m going to put it in a bottle and keep it as a trinket to look at” TSA shrugged and let me keep the sand. My advice is don’t act nervous, be honest, and everything should sail smoothly. When you’re cool with security, they’re cool with you.


I had a small amount of beach sand from a Florida beach and it was confiscated by TSA agents at the Tampa airport. The sand came from a relatives beachfront home and they said it was ok for me to have it.


TSA held up my backpack containing a bag of beach sand. They did a chemical test for explosives on it, then sent me on my way. Eugene, Oregon.

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