I am going to the US for a 3 month vacation on B1/B2 visa for the first time and I feel that I might be carrying too much with me.

I have 2 laptops. A 5 year old one and a 2 month old one. Old one is for work and new one is personal.

Plus I have 1 tablet, 2 mobiles, 1 ipod, 1 small point & shoot digital camera. And 3 external hard disk (the small type).

Will I have issue with TSA or Customs? Can just keep my hard disk & my work laptop in check-in luggage?

  • All the battery-powered electronics must be in full working order, and you'll have to demonstrate before you board flights to/from the us.
    – JoErNanO
    May 18, 2015 at 18:02
  • 1
    Check on whether you might have trouble re-importing the devices back to your home country. It's sometimes possible to get paperwork from customs proving that the devices were obtained prior to travel.
    – mkennedy
    May 18, 2015 at 18:18
  • If this is really a vacation, leave the work laptop behind. May 18, 2015 at 19:25
  • Indeed. If you say "oh that one is my work laptop" and you're entering on a B1/B2 visa, then the immigration officer will suddenly have a whole lot of harder questions for you. May 18, 2015 at 20:06
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    @MichaelHampton haha I wish I could get an answer from my boss on that. Even when I am on vacation, I am expected to respond to urgent emails and mostly all mails are urgent. May 18, 2015 at 20:46

2 Answers 2


These are two different questions. One is about immigration and customs at entry, the other is about pre-flight security.

On customs and immigration, your electronic items are not a problem; probably no one will even look in your bags unless you get sent to a secondary screening for other reasons. However, if you are searched by customs, it will look like you are entering for work purposes. Be sure you have your story straight about why you have each item. "My boss might email me" is not going to cut it for having so many computers. If, however, you really are entering for work, perhaps as an IT contractor, it is not unusual to have numerous computers.

TSA will not inspect your hand luggage prior to entry. Your local airport is responsible for this. Sometimes additional contractors are employed at the gate to 'double check' your baggage to TSA standard, particularly if your flight is operated by an American carrier. This procedure is annoying but basically pointless. If you use a non-American carrier it rarely happens. Anyway, the general rule is that your items should power up and work. Individual hard drives do get a lot of scrutiny but they are usually allowed to go through eventually.

On domestic flights and your exit flight, of course TSA will check your hand baggage. Same rules apply really, just make sure it all works and you know why you are bringing all these gadgets.

You should split your electronic items out amongst as many trays as you can; it makes it easier for the xray operator to see what's going on and therefore less likely to attract operator confusion and a time-consuming hand search.

If you really need these electronics with you, do not put them in your checked luggage. It is wise, in my experience, to assume that your checked luggage will go missing! (I lost three more bags last year ...)

  • Even though price-wise gadgets are expensive. Its a hassle finding the right cloths. The probability of losing my fav cargos is worse than losing my hard-disk. The issue is that each of harddisk is 500gb or 1tb. I just got a 3tb hd and I am copying all my data to it. May 19, 2015 at 4:43
  • How long are you staying in the US for?
    – Calchas
    May 19, 2015 at 8:23
  • For about 4 months. May 21, 2015 at 3:44

Your comment was "I feel that I might be carrying too much with me." You have 2 laptops, 1 tablet, 2 mobiles, and 1 ipod, 1 camera and 3 external hard disks. The answer is "Yes, you are carrying way too much!" The first question I would ask is, "Why are you doing this to yourself?" I understand the two laptops but why burden yourself with so much other stuff. Consolidate a little (or a lot as the case may be).

  • I was just wondering the same thing as I was looking at all the items as I was packing. Thats why I immediately jumped to this forum. I still remember the last time I was asked to take all electronic items out of my backpack and the agent asked if I was planning to hawk it on the plane. May 18, 2015 at 21:55
  • Actually the old laptop is windows while the new one is mac. I am still not fully comfortable with mac and do not have all my fav apps on it. Buts its my new toy and I want to take it with me. As for tablet, its my library. 1 mobile is for my sim while other is a temp sim i will buy when I am in the US. Ipod is my jukebox. 3 harddisk is pretty much all movies, tv show, documentaries, softwares, pictures, ebook library, flac music files. May 18, 2015 at 22:03

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