For an upcoming artist residency, I am considering taking a few 35mL tubes containing oil paints with me on a flight with RyanAir within the EU.

RyanAir lists prohibited items (for both checked and carry-on baggage) here, and it includes

Paint, turpentine, white spirit and paint thinner

I realize this is unambiguous language. However, I'm assuming this is based on the idea that many types of paint are or contain hazardous and flammable materials. Oil paints generally consist of oil and pigment (and, sporadically, additional ingredients), and I doubt they pose a serious threat. Moreover, I found several posts online of artists having traveled with their art supplies without major problems (see here, for example).

Can oil paints be taken along on flights?
What do I need to take into consideration when I plan on taking oil paints?

  • I do not know whether it makes a difference but hand luggage (carry on) or hold luggage (the case you hand in)?
    – Willeke
    Aug 17, 2022 at 19:19
  • What makes you think that oil paint is not flammable? Aug 17, 2022 at 19:51
  • Oil paints typically have a base that is flammable. It is only when that base has evaporated are they non-flammable. However that article you link to suggests that "Artist grade" paints use a vegetable oil base that is not flammable. I'd expect the paint packaging to define what base the paint uses.
    – Peter M
    Aug 17, 2022 at 20:54
  • @PeterM Then I'll ask what makes you think that vegetable oils are not flammable? Lineseed oil, which is often used as a base for oil paints, can even self ignite at room temperature. Aug 17, 2022 at 21:40
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I'm only quoting the article
    – Peter M
    Aug 17, 2022 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


Read the list in context, it says "flammable liquids" and it lists paints under it. But if a paint is not flammable it doesn't belong there. Flammable liquids are the things that are regulated. You can see this in the more detailed CAA list. You can see it separates artist, flammable and water-based paints.

Artist watercolours and tubes of oil paints may be carried.

Thinners or turpentine substitute must not be carried.

Gloss paints are often flammable and must not be carried. Aerosol paints are also forbidden.

Most paint manufacturers place information on the tins to indicate whether the product is flammable, toxic or corrosive.

If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

Note the CAA is not making its own rules, everyone uses the IATA DGR, they must, it's just a matter of explaining the completely incomprehensible DGR language to laypeople.

Having a declaration from the manufacturer stating it's not flammable is great. Example although this one is watercolor paints. Here is the Frankfurt airport regulation "Flammable liquids and fluids that interact with water (such as paints, varnishes, coatings and thinners)" but again that's an explanatory of "Flammable liquid". If your paints are not flammable, you are good.

The linked article is about American regulations, you can clearly see it matches the language of https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/more_info/?hazmat=19

  • Thank you. Good advice about the declaration, that's a very good starting point!
    – Joachim
    Aug 18, 2022 at 1:09

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