In Southeast Asia I anticipate purchasing multiple, old Zippo lighters to bring to the United States. I've attempted this previously but the lighters disappeared from my checked luggage in either Singapore or Narita. I assume they were confiscated due to regulations. The lighters had no fuel in them but did have a working flint.

Is there a way I can bring old and serviceable but defueled Zippo lighters to the United States from Southeast Asia when travelling by air?

If cannot bring them with personal air travel are there alternates means to get them to the United States.

  • 1
    Is that something that really happens, customs agents just "confiscating" things from luggage before the owner can present them for inspection, withou even notifying them? Is it legal or even possible? (Arriving luggage is carried by the airline from the plane to the carrousel, where the owner retrieves it and carries it through customs.) It seems much more likely the items were stolen by airline baggage handlers (which is very common). Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 7:06
  • Watch out about transiting in India while flying to/from South-East Asia. Indian airport security will NOT allow you to carry lighters on your person / cabin baggage. Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 14:56
  • You can't take lighters through TSA checkpoints either. Last winter, I witnessed a traveler forced to choose between making a flight and keeping an expensive lighter at TSA checkpoint in Miami Intl. Airport.
    – Jagular
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


The international Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) recommendations in this matter are very strict, some types of lighters or matches are only allowed to be carried on the person, this has a good reason explained in this document from ICAO.

Anyway, most airports allow the lighters to be carried in carry-on luggage and on person, but none allow it on checked-in luggage. This is to avoid inadvertent ignition in the cargo compartment, a serious issue that can bring down an aircraft.

Good news, you still can bring up to two lighters to/from the US in a special case, from FAA's site:

Q2. Is there any exception to the “one lighter only” rule or the “no torch lighters” rule?
A2. You can bring up to two (2) additional lighters—including torch lighters—in your checked baggage when you use DOT-approved airtight travel containers for lighters.

For more details about this case, check Zippo's website.

  • The TSA/DOT rules allowing cigarette lighters apply to domestic flights, not international flights. safetravel.dot.gov/which_fly.html
    – user13044
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 13:55

You can always try mailing them (or using UPS or Fedex). You'll have to fill out a customs form. The US Post office always asks if the contents of a package are flammable (also perishable or liquid). Foreign package handlers probably do so too.

  • 1
    Mailing by sea mail is OK (and more reasonably priced), shipping by air on FedEX or UPS falls under the same dangerous goods restrictions as flying does.
    – user13044
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 18:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .