nail clippers on a plane

Can you bring nail clippers on a plane?

According to the TSA, you can bring most nail clippers on the plane with you in both your hand luggage and checked baggage. Whether you’re going on a short trip or a long vacation, ensuring you have all of your personal care items with you is important. And nail clippers are part of that personal care kit. 

But do the rules differ depending on where you’re flying? And can the TSA decide to not let you take your nail clippers with you? We answer all in this article all about bringing nail clippers on a plane. 

TSA and Airline Regulations on Nail Clippers

TSA agent looking through cabin luggage at airport 

The TSA website states that nail clippers are permitted in both carry on and checked luggage. However, they also state that “the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.” This discretionary power means that even though a nail clipper is generally allowed, an officer may determine they’re not permissible if deemed a security threat in specific contexts. So make sure you’re prepared in case you’re asked to remove them from your bag. 

Keeping your nail clippers in your carry-on toiletries bag should be sufficient. But, any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors, a stipulation that underscores the TSA’s commitment to safety for all aspects of air travel.

Although it’s not illegal to use your nail clippers on the plane itself, be considerate of your fellow passengers and refrain from cutting your nails at your seat – either wait until you get to your destination or head to the bathroom instead. 

What to do if your nail clippers are not allowed

If you get to security and you’re not permitted to take your nail clippers with you, you have a few options. 

  • You can either ask for a friend or family member staying behind to take them for you instead and give them back once you return. 
  • The airport may have a checking system for banned items that allow you to collect them when you return from your trip.
  • The TSA officer will dispose of them.

Can you bring nail clippers on a plane when flying internationally?

closeup of a person’s hands using nail clippers

Although there are some local nuances depending on the individual airports and airlines you’re flying to, in general, international guidelines on nail clippers are the same as TSA. 

Can you bring nail clippers on a plane in Latin America?

In Latin America, regulations around bringing nail clippers on a plane tend to be similar to TSA standards. However, they can vary from country to country due to differing national security policies and airline practices. 

In general, Latin American countries permit nail clippers in both carry-on and checked luggage, recognizing them as basic grooming tools rather than security threats. However, travelers should be aware that airport security in some Latin American countries may exercise a higher degree of discretion during screenings, influenced by local security concerns or interpretations of regulations.

Can you bring nail clippers on a plane in Asia?

In Asia, countries such as Japan and South Korea are known for their meticulous security screening processes. Yet, even here, a nail clipper is generally permitted on board. However, travelers might encounter more rigorous inspections of their carry-on items, underscoring the importance of packing such personal care items in an easily accessible manner to facilitate smooth security checks.

Recommendation when taking an international flight

Some countries have heightened security measures due to specific regional threats or historical incidents and so might be more cautious. Therefore, some items deemed benign elsewhere can be scrutinized more closely, though a nail clipper is usually still fine. Despite this, it’s important to research or inquire prior to your journey.

For those flying with airlines based in countries with strict regulations on sharp objects, clarity on what constitutes a “sharp object” is essential. While nail clippers are generally exempt, those with attached tools or longer blades might be subject to scrutiny. 

The key to smooth international air travel is not just knowing the rules but understanding that they can vary significantly from one country to another.

To ensure compliance with international regulations, travelers are advised to:

  • Check the security guidelines provided by international airports and airlines, as these can offer the most current and relevant information.
  • Consider the cultural and social norms of their destination countries, especially regarding public grooming.
  • Prepare for stricter security screenings by packing nail clippers and similar items in an easily accessible part of their carry-on luggage.

Misconceptions about bringing nail clippers on a plane

nail clippers sat on top of luggage

All nail clippers are banned on flights.

Nail clippers are not banned on all flights. Infact, most airlines permit nail clippers to be included in your hand luggage provided that they fit within any size guidelines that may be in place. 

Nail clippers in carry-on luggage will always lead to additional screening

Also not true. Nail clippers that look unusual might lead to your bags being screened again. But having a nail clipper in your bag is not automatic grounds for extra checks.

If allowed through security, nail clippers can be freely used on the plane

While it’s not illegal to use the clippers on the plane, it’s best to save it for your destination. No one wants a plane neighbor who clips their toenails at their seat.

The rules for carrying nail clippers are the same worldwide.

Not true. Each country will have its own guidelines on carrying nail clippers. It’s always a good idea to double check what the regulations are to avoid disappointment or avoid your clippers from being disposed of.

Confiscated nail clippers can be reclaimed after the flight

Depending on the airport, you may be able to reclaim confiscated nail clippers when you return from your trip. However, this is not a guarantee. So make sure you check with airport staff.


Can nail clippers with attached files or tools be brought on a plane?

Many nail clippers come with a nail file attached. As long as the file is short and not sharp, it should also be allowed in your carry-on bag. Other attachments like nail scissors may not be allowed as they might be considered a sharp object. It’s best to leave those at home.

Are there size restrictions for nail clippers in carry-on luggage?

Some countries do have size restrictions on nail clippers. But in general, your nail clippers should be smaller than 6 cm, or 2.3 inches.

Can you use nail clippers on the plane?

While it’s not illegal to trim your nails on the plane, it might be worth either re-thinking it or going into the bathroom to do so. No one wants to sit near someone who is trimming their nails in close proximity – especially with the risk of clippings pinging in any direction.

What should I do if my nail clippers are confiscated at security?

The best option is to pack confiscated nail clippers in checked luggage. However that might not be possible at that stage. Check with the airport whether you will be able to reclaim your confiscated items after your return flight. To avoid this, make sure your clippers follow size guidelines. Other than that it’s likely that your nail clippers will be disposed of so it might be worth considering leaving them at home instead.


Take the next step in your travel preparation


open cabin luggage and liquids in a clear bag on conveyor belt at airport security


Whether you’re an avid adventurer exploring new horizons, a business traveler keen on maintaining a polished appearance, or simply someone who values practicality and preparedness, it’s easy to travel with your nail clippers as long as you follow guidelines. 

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