Rwanda has enacted a ban on plastic bags, as a web search for "Rwanda plastic bags" will show.

Does this extend to 1-quart or 1-liter sealable freezer bags? If so, how can one pack liquids in carry-on baggage for a flight departing from Kigali?

Even if Rwandan airport security permits liquids without such a bag, the probability of being subjected to additional security screening before boarding a connecting flight seems very high. What is a traveler to do?

The ban can be found here: http://www.rema.gov.rw/rema_doc/Laws/Plastic%20bags%20law.pdf

The relevant text is

Article 2: Definition of the term “polythene bags”

In this Law, a “poythene bag” is a synthetic industrial product with a low density composed of numerous chemical molecules ethene with a chemical formula; (CH2=CH2). In most cases the bag is used in packaging of various products.

  • @MichaelHampton as far as I can tell, the basic Ziploc bag, the best known brand in the USA, is made of the same kind of plastic. The Rwandan law is based on the kind of plastic, mentioning certain bag functions only as examples. See, for example, google.com/#q=recycle+ziploc+bags, where the bags are said to be recyclable along with grocery bags. Anyway, if you have evidence that such bags are not covered by the law, please post an answer.
    – phoog
    Nov 8, 2015 at 2:48
  • 1
    The more I look into this, the less I like it. The English translation of that is atrocious given the confusion of chemical terms and the spelling errors. Interestingly the CAA still tells people to put their liquids into such plastic bags. I've found a couple of unofficial sources which say the ban applies only to bags of less than 100 µm thickness, but haven't been able to confirm this. Nov 8, 2015 at 3:19
  • If you are really only concerned about leaving Rwanda and not having a bag to use at the connecting airport, every airport I've seen that requires liquids to be in a freedom baggie (and trust me, that is not every airport in the world) also has a supply of freedom baggies for you to transfer your liquids into while you're waiting to go through security. So this is a non issue in my opinion. Jan 24, 2016 at 18:59
  • In fact the definition quoted from the law appears to ban any manufactured item made of low-density PE, no matter whether it is actually bag-shaped or not. Aug 6, 2019 at 11:33
  • @HenningMakholm I don't know anything about Rwandan jurisprudence, but I suspect that the appearance of "bag" in the term, if not the definition, would lead most judges to conclude that it doesn't include every conceivable "industrial product." But of course "most judges" is far from "all judges."
    – phoog
    Aug 6, 2019 at 11:53

2 Answers 2


I just returned from my trip to Rwanda, and while I cannot offer a definitive answer to my question, I can say from personal experience that I observed nobody searching the luggage of arriving travelers for plastic bags.

I also agree with Michael Hampton's comments about the English version of the law. It's not very well written. The intent certainly seems to be to cover thin bags for shop purchases, not freezer bags.

Unfortuntately, I forgot to note whether anyone looked at my plastic bag of carry-on liquids when I checked in for my departing flight.

It also did not occur to me until just now that I should have looked in the supermarket to see whether they sell plastic freezer bags (I suspect that they do).

I will probably be returning to Rwanda in a couple of months; if I do, I will edit this answer as I find more relevant information.


According to Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority bags for liquids at the airport are not only allowed but are necessary



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