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Can I Take a License Plate on an Airplane?

Catching a flight can be stressful. This stress is further amplified when you consider what you need to pack for your trip.

Apart from potentially having to pay baggage fees, you need to ensure that whatever you carry is not prohibited by either the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or the airline. 

This brings us to the question, “are license plates allowed on airplanes?” 

Perhaps you purchased a car in a different state. Now that you’re flying back home, you’re wondering whether it’s legal to pack a license plate inside one of your bags. 

According to TSA, you are allowed to take a license plate on an airplane- whether you’ve packed it in your carry-on bag or checked bag. Contrary to popular belief, this item is not considered a weapon, which is why it’s allowed. 

Important to note though is this statement displayed on TSA’s website,

The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

This implies that even though license plates are allowed in planes, a TSA officer can forbid you from bringing it onboard if he/she deems it unsafe. 

How to Pack a License Plate for a Flight

Sure, a license plate may not pose as much danger as carrying a Swiss Army knife on a plane would. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that it has sharp edges that can cause injuries if the plate is not handled properly. 

So for your sake and any other person who will be handling your luggage, ensure that you’ve packed your license plate in a safe manner. 

As per TSA’s guidelines for carrying sharp objects:

Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.”

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to pack a license plate:

Items you Will Need

  • Packing tape
  • A pair of scissors
  • Two pieces of stiff cardboard
  • A license plate sleeve/cover
  • Brown wrapping paper
  • License plate


  1. Start by placing the license plate in the sleeve/cover. If you don’t have a sleeve, you can use a newspaper too. What’s important is that you wrap the plate in material that can prevent the letters and numbers from being scraped. 
  2. Next, put the license plate in between the two pieces of cardboard. These cardboard pieces should be cut to a slightly bigger size than that of the plate (about a quarter of an inch on each side).
  3. Once the plate is securely inside, tape all four edges of the cardboard pieces together
  4. Finally, cut the wrapping paper to size so that it’s big enough to cover the wrapped license plate. Place the plate on the brown packing paper, and apply tape to seal it.
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Do You Have to Take Your License Plate Out at Airport Security?

There aren’t any hard and fast rules on this. So it boils down to individual airports and the respective regulations they have in place. 

At some airports, you may be asked to take your license plate out of your carry-on bag for further inspection. This can be a somewhat intimidating and very time-consuming process. 

If you suspect that this will happen, it’s better to take it out of your bag in advance and place it in the bin. 

This way, the airport security officers won’t be forced to go through all your belongings; hence, saving you time. You can check out more tips for how to check bags, especially when you’re taking long flights.

Final Thoughts

The TSA doesn’t have any restrictions when it comes to carrying a vehicle license plate on a plane. In fact, according to their website, passengers can choose to pack it in either their checked luggage or carry-on. 

That said, the agency goes on to add that the final decision rests on the TSA officer you’ll find at the airport. 

To save you the trouble, take it out of your bag and place it in the bin for individual screening. This conveys that you don’t have any ill motive for carrying the plate. More importantly, it makes the checking process easier and faster. 

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Hayden Wall

Hayden is the founder of Travel Gear Discounts and tries to vacation as much as possible. He loves finding the latest travel accessories that will make getting out easier and planning the perfect weekend getaway.