Travelling With Electronic Cigarettes

Travelling with Electronic Cigarettes what are the laws?

Although it might not seem like it, sooner or later we will all be able to go back to having holidays. This is our guide to where you can go and how you can get there with your e-liquid and vaping equipment because other countries have some punishing laws.

Travelling with an electronic cigarette can present a problem if you visit certain countries or go by plane. From nationwide bans to regulations on bottle size and where you can put spare batteries, the wrong decision can and has resulted in prison sentences for vapers.

Last week, a passenger on a domestic flight from San Diego to Sacramento in the United States suddenly had his device auto-firing in his pocket due to liquid leaking from the tank. Fortunately, he was able to extinguish the problem in the toilet’s sink, and then the flight attendant placed the device in a containment bag for safety.

In 2019, one-time Dutch Eurovision Song Contest entrant Gerard Jan Joling and his sound engineer found themselves in a cell in Pattaya because they had broken the Thai ban on vaping. They faced a possible five-year prison sentence but managed to escape with a 900 Euro fine.

This author had 200ml of his favourite e-liquid taken off him at Stanstead airport when he was unaware of the rule applying to hand luggage carry-on limits, leaving him hunting for a vape shop when landing in the Netherlands.

Despite many anecdotal accounts of tourists saying they have vaped in countries where e-cigs are banned, forewarned is forearmed and you can make your own decision.

What is the first rule of travelling with vape equipment?

Batteries go flat, devices break, and e-liquid can get spilt – always carry spare. It might be possible to buy an emergency replacement while away, but it won’t be like the set-up that you enjoy the most.

Can I use an e-cig abroad?

It depends. Some countries allow vaping, some countries tolerate visitors using electronic cigarettes, but some have complete bans on importing equipment in your luggage or vaping in public. The safest destinations include the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Europe.

Where is it banned to use an electronic cigarette?

Laws change, but currently, you are advised not to try taking your vape equipment to:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Dubai
  • Egypt
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • Uraguay
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

Countries where you should exercise caution:

  • Queensland and the Northern Territories in Australia
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • South Africa

How can I check if vaping is allowed in the country I am visiting?

The best thing to do before travelling is to check the UK Government’s foreign travel advice.

For example, it currently says for Thailand: “Vaporisers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) and refills are illegal in Thailand. These items may be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. Their sale or supply is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty.”

Can I take e-liquid on a plane?

You are allowed to carry bottles of up to 100ml in your hand luggage. 100ml is the maximum volume you are allowed to take in your carry-on luggage. The volume of the bottles must be clearly marked on the manufacturer’s label, officers will confiscate your juice and throw it in a bin.

  • The bottle(s) must be placed in a zip-top, transparent bag for inspection.
  •  You are free to place bottles of any size into your checked-in luggage that will go into the hold.

Is it safe to take e-liquid on a plane?

The pressure in the cabin will drop at altitude, more so in the luggage hold. Although it doesn’t present a danger in itself, it will make any atomiser or bottle containing e-liquid leak. The best thing to do is place the bottle or atomiser in a sealable plastic bag so the e-liquid doesn’t leak on to something important.

Can I vape on a plane?

No. Absolutely not.

Seasoned vapers recommend that if you think you will need a fix of nicotine that you rely on gum and patches for the duration of the flight.

People caught vaping anywhere on an aeroplane face severe fines and the possibility of being blacklisted by the plane operator like this traveller on a Spirit airline’s flight.

How do I transport my electronic cigarette on a plane?

You can take your devices in your carry-on luggage.

Nothing that contains a battery can be put in to hold luggage, there have been incidents of batteries in all manner of electronic devices exploding in the hold.

  • Try to take empty atomiser tanks as they will leak at altitude.
  • Make sure the device is turned off.

How do I transport my lithium-ion batteries on a plane?

  • If they are in your devices, make sure they are all turned off.
  • If the spare batteries are loose, make sure they are safely stored in battery boxes.
  • Place them all in your carry-on luggage.

If you put anything containing a lithium-ion battery into hold luggage you risk the flight being delayed or your luggage being taken off the flight.

How can I pack my e-cig equipment?

There are many options, from waterproof pouches to specially designed vape bags. The important thing is to make sure that things that can leak don’t, and things that are turned off can’t be accidentally turned on again.

Can I use my e-cigarette at the airport?

The rule of thumb is you can’t vape anywhere in an airport that you aren’t allowed to smoke in – which is almost everywhere.

Some airports provide smoking areas or booths. These are not pleasant places for most ex-smokers. Like with needing a nicotine fix on a plane, many seasoned vapers recommend that you rely on gum and patches for the duration of your time in the airport.

In the UK:

  • Birmingham allows vaping in the outside smoking areas. There are no smoking areas once you have passed through security.
  • Bristol allows vaping in indoor smoking areas. There are no smoking areas once you have passed through security.
  • Exeter has a smoking area in the departures lounge.
  • Gatwick allows vaping in the outside smoking areas. There are no smoking areas once you have passed through security.
  • Heathrow allows vaping in the outside smoking areas. There are no smoking areas once you have passed through security.
  • Manchester Stanstead allows vaping in the outside smoking areas. There are no smoking areas once you have passed through security.
  • Stanstead allows vaping in the outside smoking areas. There are no smoking areas once you have passed through security.

Can I charge my battery on a flight?

No. Make sure your device and/or batteries are fully charged before packing them safely.

Is there anything else I need to be aware of?

The United Kingdom leads the world in its approach to vaping and tobacco harm reduction, which means that even where it is allowed in other places you are unlikely to be looked at in the same light as at home. Blowing huge clouds on a foreign beach or in the city is a no-no. Try to vape with respect and discretion

Now go start packing your Kiss-Me-Quick hat and sun cream!

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