If I am passing through US airport security with a brand new unopened laptop box. Will I have to take it out of the box or will letting it ride as a box be sufficient?

  • 1
    Depends on the TSA officer running the scanner.
    – user13044
    Apr 30 '17 at 5:41
  • This (undated) article traveltips.usatoday.com/… says that you should be prepared to demonstrate to a TSA that your laptop can be powered up. [In passing, note that flights to to the US from some destinations have this requirement as well]. Some brand new machines may take some time to boot/prepare and I suppose in extreme cases might not be directly bootable.
    – djna
    May 1 '17 at 14:47

Unfortunately, it will depend on the screeners at your lane that day.

The point of removing the laptop and/or checkpoint friendly bags is to separate the laptop from other clutter in the bag. Original packaging is easy for the machine to see through so if the screener is satisfied, they may let it pass.

For the lowest probability of the original packaging being opened, put it in checked baggage.


The official page has this to say:

Starting Aug. 16, 2008 TSA began to allow laptops to remain in bags meeting "checkpoint friendly" guidelines.

I copied the criterias and numbered them:

  1. Your laptop bag has a designated laptop-only section that you can lay flat on the X-ray belt
  2. There are no metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on-top of the laptop-only section
  3. There are no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section
  4. There is nothing in the laptop compartment other than the laptop
  5. You have completely unfolded your bag so that there is nothing above or below the laptop-only section, allowing the bag to lie flat on the X-ray belt

Only 2. is surely OK the rest is at least debatable.

Especially 5. can be problematic: if your box is like enter image description here

with the charger on top of the laptop, that's a violation of the rules. It also can look like this:

enter image description here

which can possibly be sold as adhering these rules if the foamed part of the box is a "designated laptop-only section".

Ultimately, however:

If a Transportation Security Officer finds that the bag does not present a clear and distinct image of the laptop separate from the rest of the bag, the laptop must be screened separately.

So it's possible if the box gives them a nice look they will let it pass. However, at the end of the day:

Given TSA's use of random screening protocols, TSA reserves the right to re-screen any bag or laptop regardless of the design of the bag.

You can never know. This is the TSA.


You'll definitely have to take it out since they're scanning it through but I think you can send it in the checked in baggage without opening it.

  • I've had new unopened electronics in my checked and carryon luggage and it was not opened. You just have to take it out and put it in a separate bin.
    – Michael
    Apr 30 '17 at 7:35
  • Do you have any references to this? I know what the rules say, but they are intended more for the electronics that are already "in use"
    – Karlson
    Apr 30 '17 at 13:26

I've done it, but before the era of laptops-out. Had they wanted it opened I would have had no problem with that--I was intending to open it anyway. I had told my machine to synchronize a bunch of stuff onto the laptop and woke up to find a major electronic failure of some kind. I spent as much time as I could burning relevant stuff to CDs, then stopped by the electronics store on the way to the airport, grabbed the most likely looking prospect and the memory to upgrade it and headed on to the airport. Once we were at the gate I unpacked the laptop and put it in my laptop bag.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.