Although this article is primarily aimed at people who want to take live fish on a plane it will also cover taking dead fish on a plane too. It would seem unlikely that people may want to take their pet goldfish on vacation with them but I guess some may.
TSA regulations allow live fish to be taken through airport security and onto a plane in your carry on bags but they must be in a spill-proof clear transparent container. They are not allowed in checked bags. You should check with your airline to ensure they also allow them.
There are other restrictions with regard to taking live fish with you, particularly if traveling internationally.
Can you take fish through airport security
Live fish can be taken through the airport security checkpoint with the following restrictions:
- The fish must be in a clear, transparent, spill-proof container
- The fish must actually be alive and swimming
- They can be in more than 3.4 ozs of water as the liquids rule is waived when transporting live fish
- You must notify a security agent that you have them as they will want to carry out a visual inspection
Dead fish can be taken through airport security in your carry-on bag. You should ensure that it is well packed in a sealable plastic bag as no-one wants to sit through an entire flight with a fish smell in the air. If the fish is packed in ice or ice packs then it must not be melted at all when presented at the security checkpoint (ie. there can be no liquid water) as that is not permitted.
The TSA offer a very good service on Twitter and Facebook where you can ask a specific question about whether you can take something through the security checkpoint and they will respond quickly.
This is an example response to a passenger’s question regarding carrying live fish through airport security:
Can you take fish onboard in your carry on?
Although you may be able to take live fish through airport security that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to take them on the aircraft with you. It is possible that particular airlines might not allow live fish in the cabin so you should always check with your airline beforehand to make sure.
I have read that Southwest Airlines do not allow live fish to be taken on a flight.
Of course, your carry on will not be searched again after you pass through airport security so if you have live fish and they remain in the bag for the flight then the airline is unlikely to know that you have them.
Can you take fish in your checked bags?
Live fish are not allowed to be carried in checked baggage (and rightly so in my opinion).
Checked bags can get some pretty rough treatment on their way through the baggage handling systems, often tumbling end over end, so any live fish in them would probably be injured or killed.
At least in your carry on they can be treated much more gently.
You can pack dead fish in your suitcase such as those you may have caught while fishing.
How to transport live fish on a plane
As already stated above live fish should be in a clear, transparent, spill-proof container. They can be transported in special aquatic “breather” bags which allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through but not water (very clever technology). You can buy these on Amazon – Breather Bags for Shipment or Transportation of Fish
- Although the bags are quite durable, you can protect them more by placing the bag inside a container but ensure that some of the bag (at the top) is exposed to the air otherwise oxygen won’t be able to pass through
- Ideally you should only pack one fish in a bag, particularly if they are larger or prone to fight
- Do not feed the fish for 24 hours prior to transporting them as this will mean they are less likely to soil the water as much, keeping it fresher for longer
- Try to minimize the transportation period as much as possible
- Fill the bags fully as this will prevent the water sloshing around which can damage the fish. The exception is if transporting Betta fish in which case you should ensure that the bag or container is not completely full and there is an air space, as Betta fish breathe from the surface too
I asked the TSA specifically if these were permitted through airport security and this was their reply:
Can you take live fish internationally?
Most countries have regulations regarding importing live fish and other animals.
If flying into the US with live fish from another country then there are various restrictions You should contact the US Fish and Wildlife service. This article by Aquafind gives some good information on importing live fish – Importing Tropical Fish (Summary of US Rules).
If you are flying out of the US into another country and want to take fish with you then you should contact the embassy of the country you are flying to.
Provided you follow the rules above you should have no problems taking live fish with you when traveling in your carry on bag. Have a good and stress free flight.
Can you take live lobsters on a plane?
The TSA allow live lobsters through airport security in checked bags and, with an airline’s consent, in your carry on bag. But do the poor lobster a favor and don’t subject it to even more torture before it is eaten!
Can you bring Betta fish on a plane
Yes, Betta fish can be taken on a plane in carry on bags but they must be in a clear, transparent, spill-proof container and be presented at airport security for a visual inspection. They cannot be taken in checked baggage.
Can you bring frozen fish on a plane
Frozen fish can be taken on a plane in either carry on or checked bags. If in your carry on, and packed in ice or ice packs, then there must be no melted water with it when it is presented at the security checkpoint.