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I was flying next week from one US to London tomorrow. I was curious about how much electronic parts can I carry in the checkin luggage with me ?

I can say its for a university project, but its a lot of stuff(Almost like 8 kgs).. Things like(uboards, Transmitters/Receivers, PSOC's, couple of arduinos, FPGA Boards, few capacitors(uncharged-No Electrolytic). However, I am not carrying any batteries.

Have you guys faced any problems in the past with carrying similar things on an aeroplane.

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This might not be the best site to post a question like this. I have had no problems carrying large amounts of electronics - no batteries, of course - by packing it all in a separate bag, all boards / devices in transparent, easy-to-inspect packets, layered for convenience, and then handing the bag over to the security staff along with a bill-of-materials, for "special carriage". Some airlines may charge a fee for such handling, others do not. At the destination, this bag needs to be picked up from the security staff after signing for it, and not from the carousel. –  Anindo Ghosh Feb 2 at 9:54
    
See how it goes but I'd almost wonder if this would be a better question for Travel.SE. What you're carrying isn't dangerous / illegal so the main problem is they might see it all and the UK might think you intend to sell it there and on return to the US they might think you purchased in the UK. It would be a common problem for anyone carrying unusual / expensive items. I got distracted but see Anindo has covered most of that side. –  PeterJ Feb 2 at 10:00
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about electronic design. –  Leon Heller Feb 2 at 10:02
    
Sorry for psting it in the wrong section, but I guess people down at travel S&E , might not have a better answer to it. Also, Anindo did you purposely declare the items? I plan to not do so. –  Sherby Feb 2 at 10:26
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@Sherby Yes, I intentionally declare the items every time, because otherwise their being found by someone not familiar with the devices concerned, is sure to lead to some interesting and possibly intimate investigation by airport security. –  Anindo Ghosh Feb 2 at 10:52
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closed as off-topic by Leon Heller, Wouter van Ooijen, alexan_e, Dave Tweed, Phil Frost Feb 2 at 13:11

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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This answer could migrate to travel if needs be.

I have carried substantial amounts of electronic equipment as checked and carry on baggage and on a few occasions this has been most of my luggage. These flights have been NZ-Asia & return with transit via Australia on occasion. I've been via Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China customs with such loads.

The only common 'problem', and only a minor one, has been re batteries. I carry bry batteries in carryon luggage as per IATA and airline rules. I have carried 200+ AA batteries at a time - usually NimH (for testing), packaged to avoid shorting (as per rules) in carry on baggage.This forms an X-Ray dense block and if not dealt with as below will almost invariably result in a recheck request with the batteries taken out and examined manually. I have learned that the batteries should be presented for inspection outside the bag.

I have carried sealed wet lead acid batteries as checked baggage properly packed and labelled (ESSENTIAL) as per IATA and other rules, both from China and in NZ. Such batteries may be carried in checked luggage if properly identified & labelled - if this is not done they will probably be confiscated. When carried properly labelled I have seen signs afterwards that the baggage has been opened and the batteries inspected.

I have only had "problems" with the actual electronics equipment only once. On all other occasions, even though it clearly showed on XRay, no questions were asked. I flew into Qingdao in China during the Chinese hosted Olympic games. Qingdao was the yachting venue and China was super sensitive about possible terrorist activities. On this occasion I had effectively a full electronics workshop and components of every conceivable sort plus hand tools. My bags were last off the carousel. At customs I was politely taken aside to a private room and had to explain every item I was carrying. Quite fun :-).

What they see is not what they get: It is probably wise to bring the equipment to customs attention regardless of it being legal. Incoming to Dublin I was faced with a "running on auto" uper keyed up customs lady and a half circle of customs officers in a semi crouch ready to go into action. Really! I realised something was wrong. Belt bag comes out of XRay machine. "Would you please open your bag for me. Sir". Opens bag. I'm invited to take out contents. I pull out a collapsible mini camera tripod, bought in Venice. Dual fold out metal blade legs. Screw clamp to allow it to attach to doors etc. Adjustable height foot for levelling. Tripod head. I don't know if it was the flick knife appearing blades or an overall gun profile, but ... .
Suddenly I have a relaxed customs lady and her half circle of defenders walked away. Ah. The same thing happened on the homeward led as we passed through Australia. By then I could explain to them what they were seeing.

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You guys with your stories, make me want to leave the stuff in the bag, and wait for them to ask about it. :) Would be a cool moment. I happen to have almost 2 10x10x10 inches box full of electronics. –  Sherby Feb 2 at 12:35
    
@Sherby - If you want stories ... :-). On one of the "take the batteries out and re-XRay occasions I missed my flight as a consequence. One of the very few times that I have done so. There were several different things that turned "plenty of time" into "sorry sir ..." but the batteries were the final straw. As I recall, on that occasion that had 3 attempts to see that they were OK, and it was about 2 too many. –  Russell McMahon Feb 2 at 12:44
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