This week some our suitcases that were delayed arrived. When inquiring with the delivery people, they told us that some restricted items were found by customs (not security although sometimes people confuse the two in my experience). Upon inspection, indeed a few things were missing, when I called the delivery company they confirmed the items but were not able to give any more information.

What happens to items removed from luggage? Are they kept somewhere? Can they be recovered?

This time it probably not worth the hassle but since this never happened to me after decades of flying into over 50 countries, I felt confused a frustrated at the lack of transparency. Specifically, they took out all AA batteries from inside items (a pair of Lithium AAs in a flashlight and NiMh AAs that were in some children toys), a bag of sweets and a box of chocolates. Nothing that we had not taken with us before. Oddly, a 9V Lithium battery was not removed from the only item that had a screw holding the battery compartment door closed.

  • 2
    I suspect that would depend on the airport/customs in question but for low value items they're probably trashed and/or put up at auction later. That is, unrecoverable.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 17:35
  • If they are restricted items, they are never, ever going to give them to you. That being the entire point of "restricted". It may not pay to poke too much; they may have declined to prosecute you for civil or criminal penalties since they believed your actions were inadvertent. Ask too much and they may rethink that assumption. It's also not impossible that these things were pilfered. Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 2:45
  • Its the restricted part that is confusing actually. The items were supposedly not allowed by customs on exit, while I normally expect entrance customs to have issue with things coming in. Plus, all the items were available at the point of origin for purchase, so the question is: Restricted from what?
    – Itai
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 16:12
  • Can you clarify if the luggage was checked bags that accompanied you on a flight, or luggage shipped by a luggage transport company?
    – jetset
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 1:41

1 Answer 1


To my knowledge, items confiscated from luggage are usually disposed of, in contrast to items left behind by accident, which are usually auctioned off if they can't be returned to their owners.

What I find puzzling about your experience is that items such as chocolate or sweets might be confiscated by customs on arrival, but batteries and such are usually removed by a security check on departure. Also, it's unusual for chocolates to be confiscated, since they are cooked and not usually considered potentially harmful.

Did the chocolates or sweets contain alcohol and you were departing from or arriving into a country that prohibits bringing alcohol in?

  • No, No alcohol in chocolates. Yes, it is puzzling to me since all those types of things (if not the exact same ones) were transported in checked luggage before.
    – Itai
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 3:08
  • One thing about both customs and security checks is that they're inconsistent. You could carry an item without issue countless times, and then have it confiscated. A lot depends on how closely your items are examined and on how the individual agent looking at your stuff interprets the rules.
    – jetset
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 23:06

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