Planning to fly to or from the UK with CBD oil in your luggage? The Extract takes you through all of the do's and don'ts of flying with cannabis oil. FLIGHTS can be quite stressful for some travellers with people choosing different ways to beat anxiety. Some people might choose medication – but it’s important to be careful with what you pack in your hand luggage if heading to certain destinations. The top airlines and airports share their rules for flying in and out of the UK with CBD products. Find out what you can and can not carry on a plane.
Flying with CBD oil: Can you take CBD on a plane in the UK?
An extensive guide to travelling to and from the UK with a CBD product including a country-by-country breakdown of what to expect.
Although perfectly legal in the UK, Europe and the US for consumption, possession of CBD products is still a source of anxiety for many people simply due to its association with cannabis. Add to that the idea of travelling through border control with CBD products, and you can understand why so many people are asking, ‘Am I safe to travel with CBD?’
If you are wondering whether it’s OK to take CBD oil to the airport when you’re in the UK, or from another country, then we will answer that question for you in this guide for flying with CBD oil.
Table of Contents
What are the CBD laws in the UK?
The CBD product must contain no THC;
The CBD in the product must be grown from industrial hemp from EU-approved seeds;
The CBD products available must fall under the EU category of being a ‘novel food’.
A common misconception is that CBD products can contain up to 0.2% THC, however this is incorrect. The misconception is believed to have arisen from the law which dictates that hemp grown in the UK can contain up to 0.2% THC. The presence of THC is completely illegal and businesses are advised to ensure the products they sell are free from THC in the UK. So after you buy the best UK CBD tinctures, what next?
The EU released a list of approved seeds from which hemp can be grown and licenses must be obtained to grow it. CBD can only be extracted and used from the flowers of these plants. Any CBD oil obtained from non-EU approved seeds or from marijuana is illegal, although this is more of a manufacturer concern than a consumer concern. Approved industrial UK CBD private label suppliers is also available.
A ‘novel food’ is any food that was not consumed prior to 15th May 1997. Products that fall under the scope of being a novel food are: –
CBD oils, capsules and oral sprays;
CBD coffee, beers, water and other drinks
CBD edibles like gummies, lollipops, brownies and other foods
Because CBD flower/bud does not fall under the category of being a novel food, they are considered illegal in the UK.
Can you travel to the UK with CBD?
You are allowed to fly to the UK with a CBD product, as long as the product adheres to the federal law in the UK. The product must contain no THC and must be a product designed and processed for human consumption. So, CBD buds are not allowed but CBD oil and other CBD products are. Medical cannabis is available in the UK but a prescription is required.
However, your flight provider may have their own rules and regulations about whether they will allow CBD, so it is recommended that you speak to your flight provider and customs prior to flying.
Can you bring CBD oil in your hand luggage?
Yes, you can take CBD oil in both the hand luggage and in the hold luggage for your flight. If you are taking CBD oil in your hand luggage, then you must adhere to customs legislations of containing liquids in a container smaller than 100 ml. If your product is in a container larger than this, then it must be in your hold luggage because they won’t allow partially filled containers larger than 100 ml onto the flight.
Which countries in Europe can you bring CBD to?
Although all EU nations are bound by the same regulations as the UK regarding CBD products, the law and how it is policed within the different nations in Europe can differ. Some of the more popular destinations are: –
France – CBD oil from hemp is legal in France. The legislation is the same as the UK, where THC in any quantity is illegal and no medical claims must be made from any businesses selling CBD oil in France. Although CBD oil is legal, the French authorities have a strong view on cannabis products, so you may be questioned about the oil and its contents.
Spain – The cultivation of cannabis for personal use in Spain is legal. By law, any cannabis product cannot be bought or sold in Spain as a consumable product, and this includes CBD. CBD is legally allowed to be sold as a cosmetic product. However, CBD oil taken into Spain from another country is legal for personal use as long as it adheres to EU regulations, the same as the UK.
Belgium & Netherlands – In both countries, possession of cannabis containing THC is decriminalized. 3 g for Belgium, 5 g for the Netherlands. Therefore, no issue will be seen taking CBD to either country from the UK.
Portugal – Although cannabis is decriminalised up to 25 g in Portugal. All CBD products must be prescribed by a medical professional, so products cannot be taken from the UK without a prescription.
Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Malta – CBD products must be prescribed by a medical professional, so products cannot be taken from the UK without a prescription.
Slovakia – CBD is a controlled substance and considered illegal. Do not travel with any CBD product.
Italy – CBD is legal and THC is allowed up to 0.6%. It is safe to travel to Italy from the UK with CBD. Not advisable to bring CBD back from Italy to the UK.
Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Sweden, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Switzerland and Poland – CBD oil is legal so no problem travelling with CBD oil from the UK.
CBD oil is legal in most European countries. However, if you are travelling from the UK with any CBD product, ensure that it contains no THC and check the legislation of the country prior to your travel because laws in all countries can change at any time.
Can I take UK-Bought CBD oil to the US?
Technically, any CBD purchased in the UK should be perfectly safe to travel to the US, because it will meet the US federal THC requirement of being less than 0.3%. However, there are certain checks you should make prior to travel: –
What is the law for the state you are travelling to? Airports are run by federal law, so less than 0.3% THC. But, the law will also change from state-to-state.
CBD bottles that don’t have the THC limit declared on it may be confiscated;
Any CBD product that are not sealed/have been opened may be confiscated.
The law is much more relaxed in the US than in the UK for cannabis products, but only in certain states, so it is important that state legislation is checked before flying.
Check the local laws before travelling
Taking CBD products that are legal in the UK into a UK airport and onto an aeroplane is completely legal. It is getting off the plane on the other side where the complications may arise. The police forces in some countries can be much stricter than our own, and may not be as forgiving even if you have made an honest mistake. Therefore, you should ensure that you specifically check the law in that country for travelling with a CBD product even if its a CBD topical for acne. If you are unsure, then it is better to be safe than sorry and leave your CBD at home.
Travelling with CBD shouldn’t cause you any added stress on your journey especially if your already suffering from anxiety use CBD before you get on the plane. If it does, then it may be worth leaving it at home. As long as you follow the advice in this article, you won’t experience any issues taking CBD abroad.
Hand luggage: Never pack this one thing in your cabin bag or risk big trouble
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Holidays to certain countries require careful packing as items could be illegal there that are acceptable in the UK. One such article that can cause complications is CBD (cannabidiol) oil. An estimated 300,000 people use it in the UK but it’s advisable to think twice before travelling with it in your hand luggage, even if it does help settle pre-flight nerves. CBD oil is banned in some countries so it’s best to check restrictions ahead of travel.
Flights: Why you should never pack CBD oil in your hand luggage for these destinations
“While CBD is legal here – as opposed to cannabis or its main psychoactive component, THC – rules around the world differ and are constantly changing,” Rich Quelch, Global Head of Marketing at Lifestyle Packaging, told Express.co.uk.
“For example, in New Zealand and Australia, you can’t buy CBD products over the counter.
“Officials will only let you through if you can show you have been prescribed CBD by a doctor and don’t have more than three month’s supply.”
Quelch added: “Some CBD oil contains higher amounts of THC than others.
“Before you travel, review its ingredients (it should be below 0.3 per cent) and print out its lab report, in case you need to show officials.”
To play it safe and avoid running into trouble it may be worth leaving the CBD oil at home.
Flights: Items could be illegal there that are acceptable in the UK (Image: Getty Images)
Flights: CBD oil is banned in some countries so it’s best to check restrictions ahead of travel (Image: Getty Images)
Some countries are changing their rules, however. The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced last month that passengers can now fly with some forms of CBD oil and one hemp-derived medication approved by the FDA.
Other items people might pack in their hand luggage can cause confusion under the liquid restrictions.
Some foodstuffs might not strike you as counting as a liquid but they actually do.
For instance, soft cheese can melt and therefore turn into a liquid – so airport security counts it as such.
Such soft cheeses include brie, camembert, goat’s cheese, cream cheese and more.
Flights: To play it safe and avoid running into trouble it may be worth leaving the CBD oil at home (Image: Getty Images)
Can you take CBD on a plane?
CBD oil is accepted in many countries across the world, but can you take it in your hand luggage when flying?
In most cases, CBD products that meet UK legal standards are allowed in your carry on if CBD is permitted at your destination airport. To ensure that you can breeze through security and arrive at your destination with CBD, you must check with airline or authority you will pass through in advance of travelling.
To make this easier, we’ve spoken to airlines and airports, including British Airways, Jet2 and Ryanair, Heathrow and Gatwick. From detailed research and what they told us; we’ve compiled all the information you will need to get you started. From there you can follow our tips for a trouble-free journey.
Flying with CBD: fast facts
- Yes, you can legally take CBD on a plane. Both in your hand luggage and in a checked bag.
- Not all airlines will allow you to do so. Check with your carrier in advance.
- Before travelling, check the legality of CBD in the destination country. CBD is still illegal in some places.
- If taking CBD oil in your carry on, you will need to follow the rules for liquids.
Can you bring CBD to the UK?
Currently, CBD is legal in the UK; however, it must meet the following requirements:
Each container must hold no more than 1mg of a controlled cannabinoid such as THC or CBN.
It must be labelled as a ‘food supplement’. This is a requirement for all CBD products currently sold in the UK that don’t have a medicinal product licence. If you have prescribed medication containing CBD, it will fall under the UK guidelines regarding medicines in your hand luggage. You will also need to carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from the prescribing medical professional.
It should be in a form in which restricted cannabinoids THC or CBN can’t be easily separated from the oil. Most full-spectrum oils contain traces of THC in a form that is impossible to extract without complex, specialised processes and equipment.
Novel food authorization
Following the 31st March 2021, only products that have received novel food authorisation from the FSA will be legal for sale and consumption in the UK. This process will confirm that a product complies with the above requirements and meets novel food guidelines.
If you arrive in the UK with a CBD product that meets these requirements, it can be legally accepted. To comply with airport restrictions, it should be in a container holding less than 100ml and be presented to security in a separate, transparent plastic bag measuring no more than 20cm x 20cm.
Because CBD is still new to some people, it is essential to contact your destination airport directly before you travel. Some airlines and airports don’t fully understand the difference between CBD as a legal food supplement and assume that it must be a prescribed medicine.
For example, when I contacted Jet2, they responded:
“You’re able to carry CBD oil on board providing you have evidence of the prescription for ease of passing through the airport to avoid having it confiscated at any point.”
However, Gatwick Airport gave reassurance by saying that CBD oils were allowed as long as they followed the rules for liquids in hand luggage:
“[Y]ou can take oils through, please place this into one of the clear bags provided[.]”
Can you take CBD in your carry on?
When boarding a plane from a UK airport, you can take CBD oil in your carry on. Each airport or airline may have a different approach, but legally it is fine to take it through security and on to your flight.
British Airways were very clear that CBD is fine in your carry on:
“you can take CBD oil on board as long as it’s under 100ml.”
While it may be ok to take on board, a large part of the legality of taking CBD with you depends on where you are going. Heathrow told us that you should check with both the airline and your destination airport to ensure a trouble-free journey:
“we would advise contacting the airline directly and we would advise contacting the airport you will be flying to.”
When planning your journey, it is essential to bear in mind the different organisations and governments involved in your complete voyage. Because CBD is still relatively new, many people still strongly associate it with illegal drug cannabis. Even in the UK, you may come across people willing to assume that it is illegal or not allowed on a plane.
When you leave the UK, you will also find that different countries have different approaches and even in areas where it is legal, it could be subject to confiscation. To address any concerns, plan ahead and research each stage of your journey.
Can you travel to the EU with CBD?
Currently, the UK and EU follow the same broad regulations relating to CBD. While most countries accept the use of CBD as a legal food supplement, there are some significant differences. Some countries still consider it illegal, and others may detain or question you despite its legal status.
If you are carrying a legal UK CBD oil, it is legal to take it into Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Switzerland and Poland without the need for a prescription or further documentation.
In Spain, you can enter the country with CBD from the UK, but it cannot be bought or sold in the country unless it is an ingredient in a cosmetic product. If you are heading to Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland or Malta, you can only take CBD that has been prescribed by a medical professional and you can present the prescription.
In France, CBD is legal but is generally considered to be an illicit substance. You may face no problems, but authorities are likely to have questions regarding its contents. In Slovakia CBD is illegal and you risk prosecution if you are caught with it. In Sweden, CBD oil is legal but must not contain any THC, CBD oil containing traces of THC is still considered as a drug.
Can I return to the UK with CBD purchased abroad?
It is worth remembering that not all EU countries will manufacture CBD to the same legal standards as those in the UK. If you are returning with CBD oil purchased in another country, it is essential to ensure it contains less than 1mg THC or CBN per container.
Can you take CBD oil through US customs?
While cannabis and CBD are both considered legal in some areas of the US, the precise situation can vary greatly depending on where you land.
At a federal level, CBD derived from hemp is legal, but it mustn’t be marketed with any medical claims or be added to food. CBD products extracted from cannabis strains are not permitted and could get you in trouble on the plane or at customs. If you do bring CBD into the US, ensure that is clearly labelled as derived from hemp.
However, at a state level, there are still cases of CBD products being seized and even drivers delivering products across state lines are being arrested for drug trafficking. Even though CBD derived from hemp is considered to be legal by the state, there are many areas where there are confusing and contradictory restrictions.
When travelling to the US with CBD ensure that it contains less THC than the US federal limit of 0.3% and check the situation with the airport you are going to. Even if you know that CBD is legal in the state you are heading to you could still fall foul of local regulations, so always check first.
Can you travel to Dubai with CBD?
In the United Arab Emirates CBD is considered to be the same as cannabis and carries the same penalties. The UK Foreign Office state that: “If you’re entering the country with medication that the UAE classes as narcotic, psychotropic, controlled or semi-controlled, approval is needed from the UAE authorities.” In their advice to travellers, the UAE list all controlled medications; cannabis and related products are clearly prohibited with no documentation that would allow it to be treated legally.
During the first three months of 2019, over 100 tourists were arrested in Dubai for possessing CBD and similar cannabis oils. Several of those detained had attempted to keep the CBD hidden in unlabelled vape cartridges. Whatever the situation, taking CBD into any part of the UAE is strongly discouraged. If caught, the minimum sentence for possession is two years.
Tips for travelling with CBD
To ensure that your flight goes without a hitch these are our top tips for travelling with CBD:
- Check with your outgoing airport, airline and destination airport. Visit their website or social media channels to look for any statement about CBD. To get a definitive answer contact them directly and make careful notes of their advice and suggestions.
- Research the rules and regulations in your destination country and the local area. Make sure this includes how the local authorities enforce them.
- If you decide to take CBD with you take full, unopened bottles of less than 100ml. Place them in a clear plastic bag as you would for any other liquids in your hand luggage.
- Where possible, print a copy of the certificates of analysis provided by the CBD company and keep it with the oil. Make sure that the THC level displayed on the document shows that it is at a level that is legal in the country you are visiting.
- Take all relevant packaging with you, including any extra boxes or labels that came with the oil when you bought it.
Places to be avoided if travelling with CBD
Here are some of the areas that when visiting you may need to leave the CBD at home. Some countries don’t make their approach to CBD known but these ones have given a strong indication that it isn’t welcome:
Africa – Apart from in South Africa, there is little distinction of CBD as separate from cannabis in any African country. There may be a small market for it, but small amounts of marijuana can result in hefty penalties, so it best not to risk taking CBD to African countries.
Albania – Cannabis products, including CBD, are illegal here.
Belarus – With no distinction between hemp and cannabis, CBD is completely illegal here.
Bolivia – Cannabis and CBD are both completely illegal here.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – All cannabis and related by-products are illegal here.
China – China has recently begun mass production of hemp for export to supply the growing global demand for CBD products. Domestically, hemp is only legal for industrial use and is not permitted for use as a food supplement. The situation may change soon, but currently, you should not bring any CBD product on a flight to China.
However, in Hong Kong CBD is viewed as legal. You may be able to fly here with products with low levels of THC. Don’t bring CBD here unless you’ve spoken directly to your destination airport.
Iceland – In some places, CBD products can be found, but the official approach is that there is no distinction between cannabis and CBD.
Russia – Hemp is illegal to cultivate and sell here. Some people do try and sell CBD products, but it is considered illegal.
Serbia – All cannabis by-products, including CBD, are illegal here.
Singapore – Currently CBD still falls under their zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs, but they are exploring the possibilities of CBD, so this may change.
South Africa – Recent law changes have legalised the use of some CBD. Still, the rules only allow for preparations that contain a maximum daily dose of 20 milligrams of CBD, products that don’t refer to specific diseases and those that contain no more than 0.001% of THC and not more than 0.0075% total CBD.
South Korea – Here, CBD is only legal for medical purposes from a shortlist of approved drugs.
Taiwan – Hemp in some forms is legal here, but situation is confused. As a result, it is best not to bring any CBD products. If you do, you risk being prosecuted for cannabis possession.
The recent growth in popularity of CBD has occurred quicker than policymakers, regulations and authorities can keep up with. The result is that any travel by air can be hard to predict without detailed research. To reduce any risks, when carrying CBD on a flight, follow our tips and make sure that you have spoken to the relevant airlines and authorities.
While flying with CBD requires extra preparation and research, it is still worth doing. Not only will you be able to access your favourite CBD oil on your journey, but you will be raising awareness of the difficulties faced by CBD consumers globally. The more people you speak to about CBD, the more companies, airports and airlines will see the need to update their policies.
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Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.