I'll be moving to Canada in a couple of months and I'm taking my $2,000+ PC with me. Obviously I don't want it to get damaged, specially since I'm an electrical engineer and I work with the thing. It's not overly big, and at worst I can disassemble it and carry only the components as carry-on and the case checked-in.

Has anyone done this before?

I've traveled with laboratory/engineering equipment before (looks like a PC) as carry-on with no problems, but I've never traveled with a whole PC.

Anyone know the regulations or practices regarding this?

UPDATE: For anyone facing a similar problem, I did travel to Canada with a disassembled PC as carry on without running into trouble. Just make sure everything is easy to open, and in it's original box (or as close as possible).

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    Sorry I misread the other question is about check-in this is carry on so we should reopen. And yes, you absolutely can, I have traveled in 2007 with a GTR Tech GT3 full ATX (!) case in my rolling carry on suitcase to many EU countries and the USA. It was a very thin ATX case. A typical SFF or uSFF case today will pose no problems whatsoever. Make very sure nothing came lose during travel. Don't use very tall, heavy coolers. I worked with a softshell but I wish I had a hardshell. Rimowa and Samsonite has nice, low weight, sturdy hardshells.
    – user4188
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 8:40
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    Not a duplicate: this is about carry-on, not check-in. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 10:41
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    CGCampbel, what's wrong with you? This is clearly about traveling, the fact that I'm moving is just useless information... Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 18:31
  • @CGCampbell the expats site makes it clear that it's only for questions an expat faces that a local wouldn't. It's therefore basically only legal/immigration status questions (with a tiny number of exceptions). A local could bring back electronics they've bought overseas, therefore, expats would close this. It's a travel question. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 9:45
  • @SebastianRivas I take the time to post when I vote, up or down, to close or not. Next time I will simply not tell why. THAT is what I learned from this. The extended REASON I posted what I did, was because I thought that expats might have people in it more versed in giving you IDEAS for HOW to do what you want to do, in ways that maybe a regular traveler might not think of or know about. You are moving to Canada, expats will have people that have MOVED there before and might know the ins and outs of MOVING there, vice just going for a week or two. Now, what's wrong with YOU?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 11:27

6 Answers 6


I have traveled with a desktop unit as carry on from the US on a long haul to Asia. It was packed in a daypack, with a little padding between the unit and my back. The bag was pulled aside to be manually inspected at every security station I went through (three in total), but there were no issues nor any "why" questions. (have done it twice now)

Just make sure it fits the carry-on size limits and weight restrictions.


I would just carry the hard drive(s) (if mechanical) and would consider taking the video card out and wrapping it in bubble wrap leaving it inside the PC case if it's a very expensive one.

Desktop and tower PC cases tend to be pretty flimsy sheet metal so a certain amount of crushing is a possibility, especially if you didn't save the original box. It's possible to put force on the video card/motherboard via the connector if you squeeze the case in the wrong direction.


My recommendations would be to use FedEx to transfer it to your new location and take the hard drive with you. TSA is very careful about those kind of things but, you can take it and check it in as fragile. I have taken tvs abroad with United airlines as a check in not carry on.


I carried a desktop PC from Canada to another country. Since I was using a traditional hard drive rather than a SSD, I removed that and took it with me in my carry on.

The actual desktop PC was packed in a regular suitcase surrounded by towels and clothes on all sides. When I opened the PC up to remove the hard drive, I also cleaned it out and double checked for any loose screws or other parts. I also packed a monitor in a similar fashion.

If you're travelling from a country that uses 220/240V AC, make sure you flip the switch on the PSU to 110V AC since that's what we use in Canada. But I'm sure you already knew that since you're an EE.

Good luck! :)


I always carry a mac pro (2013) for work stuff, traveled with it from/to USA, Spain and Mexico and never had a problem.

Only problem I had was when I bring the computer with my carry on, the security guys always freak out when they see it with X-Ray machine, and always stops me and ask me what is that thing. I show them that is a computer and that's it.

Once TSA opened my luggage to see what I was carrying, and left me a notice, but not major problems with that. Be careful if you are traveling with an screen. Once I got a damaged one. (Hard shell luggage and packed in original box).


There are no restrictions from airlines to carrying a desktop computer in your carry-on (hand) luggage; as long as it fits the weight and size requirements.

However, there are new requirements from the TSA regarding electronics:

Electronic devices are already screened daily, but now, security officers might ask that you power up your devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft, so it’s important to have them charged prior to going through security.

Now, I know its only for "portable devices", so you may not be asked to turn it on - but rather have it open for inspection by the agent. The reason portable devices are asked to be turned on is to ensure they are bona fide devices and not being used to smuggle in explosives.

Keep in mind these extra checks depend on your departure airport so they may not apply to the airport you are departing from.

In the Middle East, for example, these checks are in place for all flights to the US.

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