The question of travelling to Australia with vape gear and nicotine e-liquids comes up often in vape forums online. To provide some practical advice, we thought we would ask our good friend and frequent traveller to Australia with vape gear, Peter, to help us get up to speed……….
As an American vaping enthusiast who frequently flies to and within Australia, I have found it necessary to explore air travel rules and regulations with vaping gear.
Australia is not the most vape-friendly of countries. Still, with a little online searching, I’ve been able to figure out how to navigate the rules of carrying my e-cigarette and accessories on flights with a minimum of worry.
Can I Bring My Vape Gear To Australia?
After a bit of research, I determined that my vaporizer is perfectly legal to take to Australia. Vaporizers are legal to possess all over Australia, though it’s illegal to sell them in Western Australia. I don’t plan to sell mine, so that’s no big deal.
There are some travel restrictions though, mostly for flying safety, so I do need to take it apart when I fly.
Airport security requires that you carry your battery in your carry-on baggage. They are prohibited in checked bags.
When flying, it is a good idea to store batteries in a plastic battery case to prevent the risk of short-circuiting and overheating. If you don’t have a dedicated case, place tape over the battery contacts to isolate the terminals and store them in a Ziploc bag.
Pack your batteries carefully to avoid crushing, puncturing, or any high degree of pressure on the battery.
This is sort of common sense, but even if it seems like overkill, it’s worth not being hassled by airport security over something that is so easy to do.
Vape Battery Tips
Vaping devices, such as mods, vape pens and all-in-one’s (i.e. JUUL), need to be placed in your carry-on baggage or on your person.
If you have an internal battery device, secure the device against accidental activation by switching it off or locking it and placing it in a protective case.
Disassemble the device as much as possible and remove any e-liquid or pods to prevent leakage during the flight.
Vape Device Tips
Vape Tanks & RDA’s
Vape tanks should also be removed, and they should be empty.
An empty tank is important because it can crack under pressure, and leaking e-juice is definitely not something you want to deal with.
The likelihood of a cracked tank can be minimized by carrying it with you rather than storing it in your checked luggage.
You can minimise the likelihood of a cracked tank by carrying it with you rather than storing it in your checked luggage.
The likelihood of a cracked tank can be minimised by carrying it with you rather than storing it in your checked luggage.
Vape Tank Tips
Vape tools can be stored in checked luggage or carried on. I bring very little in the way of tools, but if you like to tinker with your vaporizer a lot while travelling and want to bring a sizable kit, it’s probably worth putting it in your checked luggage.
You won’t be using it during your flight anyway because busting out tiny tools to work on an electronic device during a flight is an absolutely horrible idea. Also, keep in mind that bringing a full coil building kit might look suspicious and could cause you a delay in customs.
Vape Tools Tips
One important thing to consider when flying with your vape gear is that airport personnel are not always clear on what is and isn’t prohibited.
This is especially true in smaller, more rural airports. I once had a perfectly legal vial of non-nicotine e-liquid confiscated at a small airport in the U.S. because the security person had no idea what it was.
When in doubt, err on the side of keeping your gear in your carry-on and being up front about it if asked.
Can I Bring Nicotine E-liquids To Australia?
Bringing nicotine e-liquids to Australia can seem like a catch-22. Because nicotine is classified as a Schedule 7 poison, it can only be used in Australia as a medication (generally for smoking cessation).
It is legal to import a three-month supply of nicotine e-liquid into the country but to do so legally you need a prescription from an Australian doctor.
Travellers can also bring nicotine e-liquid to Australia legally under the traveller’s exemption.
The Traveller’s Exemption
The traveller’s exemption allows you to bring certain prescribed medicines and medical devices into the country without special permission.
Traveller’s exemption – requirements
- The medicine or device must be for your use or for a passenger in your care
- You cannot sell or supply the products to another person
- Keep the product in original packaging with dispensing labels (if possible)
- Carry the prescription or written authorisation showing that it is for your use or for a person in your care
- Carry no more than three months supply at the maximum dose
- Take any remaining medicines or devices with you when you leave Australia
- Comply with requests and directions from customs officers.
Many travelers to Australia have reported that small amounts of nicotine e-liquid are usually ignored by customs officials even without a prescription, but this still technically illegal.
My own solution was to get a prescription from my American doctor, carry less than 3 months worth of nicotine e-liquid (500ml), and disclose it at customs. In five trips to Sydney and Melbourne over the last year, I have not had a problem with confiscation at customs.
Nicotine E-Liquid Tips
Can I Vape At Australian Airports & Public Places?
As a general rule, wherever you can smoke, you can vape. However, most Australian airports are smoke-free, so vaping is only permitted in designated outdoor smoking areas located in front of terminals.
- Adelaide Airport – Outside terminal Level 2 & ground level at the southern end of the terminal near WHSmith (Link)
- Brisbane Airport – Outside Domestic terminal & Smoking Balcony Level 3 International departures lounge (Link)
- Darwin Airport – Outside, directly in front of the main terminal (Link)
- Melbourne Airport – Outside forecourt adjacent to terminal 2 (Link)
- Perth International – Outside Terminal 1 (Domestic & International)
- Sydney Airport – Outside International Terminal 1 (Link)
Australian state and territory laws vary with regard to vaping in public places, and airports generally fall under those guidelines.
Western Australia, South Australia, and Northern Territory have fairly liberal laws concerning vaping: It is allowed in smoke-free indoor and outdoor areas, and individual establishments can set their own policies about the use of vaporizers.
In Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania, vaping is prohibited in “smoke-free indoor and outdoor areas,” suggesting that there should be plenty of areas outside airports where a person could vape with no problem.
New South Wales has the most restrictive laws, and finding a spot to vape legally at the Sydney airport can be challenging.
In addition to restrictions on vaping in all indoor places, outdoor vaping is prohibited within 4 meters of pedestrian access points to public buildings (like airport entries) and at stops and platforms for public transportation, including taxis.
Fortunately, the airport provides an information page for smoking areas that includes a link to terminal maps that will show you exactly where vaping is legal.
Things To Check In
Again, it’s a good idea to limit checked items to any tools you might want to bring on your trip. You can put your tank in a checked bag if you wish, but there is some risk that it could break if it’s not packed tightly in a soft material.
Treat it as you would any fragile item. You can also check-in chargers, coils, tips, and any other accessories if you wish to do so. It is vital to remember that you cannot check-in batteries and prevent mishaps with e-liquids. It is always better to avoid putting them in your checked bags.
It’s also important when heading from the U.S. to Australia to remember that TSA is fairly strict about vape gear. The language on their website reads, “Battery-powered E-cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens, atomizers, and electronic nicotine delivery systems may only be carried in the aircraft cabin (in carry-on baggage or on your person).”
While this suggests that their concern is with assembled vaping devices, it might also suggest some caution when storing components in checked luggage.
Things to Carry On
In the interest of being upfront with customs agents and airport security personnel and to avoid running afoul of any prohibitions on carrying gear in checked bags, I like to carry all of my vaping gear in my carry-on bag.
Because the bag will certainly be run through an X-ray machine at a minimum and possibly manually searched, I feel like it demonstrates that I have nothing to hide.
But again, even if you insist on carrying some components in your checked luggage, batteries must be placed in your carry-on bag! If airport personnel find a vape battery in your checked luggage, they will absolutely remove it. And depending on the country, you are departing from. You may never know customs removed it until you are ready to use it.
Storage and Packing Tips
Packing your vape gear properly is important when travelling, and the amount of effort you put into it will likely be determined by how much gear you like to travel with.
For those who carry the bare minimum, wrapping breakable components in a soft cloth or piece of foam and placing them in a small bag may suffice.
I like to pack my disassembled pen in a small padded camera bag along with any other breakable items I happen to be carrying.
For those who take their vaping more seriously and like to carry more items, a small bag with separate compartments may be a good choice.
Many vape sites offer carry cases specifically for vape gear, and Amazon offers both vape-specific and general electronics bags that work well for vape components.
Your e-liquids should be given consideration when packing for air travel. Once again, these should be placed in your carry-on for several reasons.
Most importantly, liquids of any kind are subject to scrutiny when flying. Domestic flights within Australia do not limit the amount of liquids you can carry, but international flights and any flight leaving from an international terminal will have restrictions.
Passengers are limited to 100 millilitres of liquid or less, and containers must fit into a transparent, re-sealable bag that does not exceed 80 centimetres in area when flat.
Using a resealable bag to contain your e-liquid is also advisable to prevent leaking disasters. I can state from experience that blue raspberry e-liquid does not smell pleasant when your jacket, computer, and personal items are soaked in it.
While much of the world has embraced vaping as both a safer alternative to smoking and enjoyable practice in and of itself, Australia has yet to liberalise its laws to bring them on par with much of the rest of the world. This is especially true for nicotine e-liquids.
But when a passenger is armed with the right information and follows Australian regulations, carrying vape gear on flights to and within Australia is not a problem. Smart packing goes a long way toward an enjoyable trip. If you are looking for more information regarding why Australia has taken a tough stance on vaping, find more perspective on our history of e-cigarettes page.