Can I Bring Acrylic Paint on a Plane?

Acrylic paint is a popular medium for artists and crafters. Its fast drying time and vivid colors make it ideal for painting on the go. However, before packing acrylic paint in your carry-on or checked luggage, it’s important to understand TSA and airline regulations. While acrylic paint is not prohibited on flights, there are guidelines for properly transporting it to avoid hassles at airport security.

This article will provide an overview of TSA and airline rules for traveling with acrylic paint. We’ll cover key factors like quantity limits, proper packing techniques, and differences between carry-on vs. checked baggage. You’ll also find tips for seamless security screening and addressing any concerns specific airlines may have. By understanding the nuances around flying with acrylics, you can confidently bring your painting supplies wherever your travels take you.

Understanding Airline Regulations for Acrylic Paint

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows acrylic paint on airplanes. This water-based medium is not considered a hazardous material or flammable liquid. However, there are restrictions for properly packing and transporting acrylic paints.

Acrylic vs. Oil Paints:

Unlike oil paints which contain solvents, acrylic paint is composed mainly of pigment and acrylic polymer. There are no concerns with flammable materials, so acrylic paint complies with TSA carry-on guidelines. Oil paints, however, face stricter regulations.

Acrylic vs. Spray Paint:

Spray paint is considered an aerosol, which comes with more restrictions for air travel. While regular acrylic paint is allowed in carry-on and checked baggage, many airlines will prohibit aerosol spray paints.

Carry-On Luggage Restrictions

When packing acrylic paint in your carry-on bag, be aware of TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid rule. This restricts liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes to travel-size containers no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml). All containers must fit in one quart-sized plastic bag.

Packing Small Amounts of Acrylic Paint:

Acrylic paint is considered a liquid, so any bottles or tubes 3.4 oz. or smaller can be taken in a carry-on. Keep all acrylic paint containers together in your liquids bag. Smaller 0.5 oz bottles or tubes are ideal for painting on the go.

Larger Containers:

If you need to pack larger acrylic paints, these will need to be placed in checked baggage. Any liquid paint bottles over 3.4 oz. are prohibited in carry-on luggage. TSA agents may inspect your bag and require you to dispose of anything over the limit.

Checked Baggage Guidelines

For checked luggage, acrylic paint is permitted with little restrictions on quantity. However, there are packaging guidelines to prevent leaks:

  • Acrylic paint should be kept in the original manufacturer’s container whenever possible. Do not re-package paint in makeshift containers.
  • Make sure lids are tightly sealed. Covering lids with a plastic bag or parafilm as extra protection against leaks is recommended.
  • Place bottles in sealable plastic bags, then wrap in bubble wrap or clothes for added padding.
  • For extra protection, pack paint tubes horizontally to prevent pressure build-up and leaks.
  • Check with your airline about any quantity limitations. Most allow multiple tubes/bottles as long as properly packed.

Special Considerations for Different Paint Types

While acrylic paint can be brought on flights in both carry-on and checked bags, it’s important to understand policies for other paint mediums:

Oil Paint – Because of the solvents used, oil paint is classified as a flammable liquid. Restrictions depend on the quantity:

  • Under 16 oz: Permitted in checked bags only. Must be tightly sealed to prevent leaks.
  • Over 16 oz: Prohibited from both carry-on and checked luggage. Checked luggage restrictions vary by airline.

Spray Paint – Aerosols like spray paint are prohibited in both carry-on and checked baggage. Exceptions can sometimes be made for small containers in checked bags, but always confirm with your airline first.

Face or Body Paint – Liquid makeup or face paint is allowed per 3-1-1 rules for carry-ons. For checked luggage, there are no restrictions but follow general packaging guidelines.

Acrylic Paint Pens – Acrylic markers and paint pens are permitted in carry-on and checked bags without restrictions. Keep them with other art supplies.

Airline-Specific Policies

While TSA has general guidelines for acrylic paint, specific airlines can have their own restrictions too. Always check your carrier’s website when planning travel with acrylics.

For example, Delta Airlines states: “You can pack nail polish/acrylic paint in your checked bag as long as it’s properly sealed in its original container to avoid any leaks. We do not allow spray paint of any kind.”

Other airlines may limit the volume per container, have different rules for international vs. domestic flights, or require paints to be packed in plastic bags. Contact your airline with any specific questions.

Can You Carry Paint On A Plane? General Guidelines

To recap TSA’s general policies for bringing acrylic paint on a plane:

Carry-On Luggage:

  • Permitted in quantities up to 3.4oz per container
  • Must comply with 3-1-1 liquid rules for carry-on
  • Keep paint tubes/bottles in a sealable plastic bag

Checked Baggage:

  • Allowed with minimal restrictions on quantity
  • Should be in original retail packaging
  • Seal containers tightly and pack carefully to avoid leaks

These guidelines apply for regular acrylic paints. Always check with TSA and your airline for restrictions on other paint mediums like spray or oil-based paint. Understand that policies for international travel may vary.

Packing and Security Tips

Follow these tips for hassle-free security and safely transporting your acrylic paint:

  • Whenever possible, keep paint in original retail packaging. Do not transfer to makeshift containers.
  • Make sure caps are sealed tight prior to travel to prevent leaks.
  • Pack paint tubes horizontally in a ziplock bag. This prevents pressure build-up that can lead to bursting.
  • Wrap glass bottles carefully in bubble wrap or clothing for plenty of padding.
  • Consider transporting paint in a hard-sided case for the most protection. Soft carry-on bags can be crushed, damaging paint inside.
  • Have your acrylic paint clearly marked and separated from other supplies in your bag. This helps TSA identify them during scans.
  • Be prepared to remove acrylic paint from your carry-on bag during screening. Have leakage-proof bags and containment.
  • Carry a printout of TSA/airline policies in case any questions arise at airport security or check-in.

International Travel Considerations

When traveling internationally with acrylic paint, be aware that restrictions may be different than domestic U.S. flights. Always check regulations for any country you’re traveling to.

Some tips for international travel:

  • Research if the country has restrictions on quantity or container sizes. This is especially important for checked luggage.
  • Be prepared for more thorough screening of your bags, including chemical swabs or searches for prohibited materials.
  • Have paint supplies clearly marked and separated so security can identify them easily.
  • Understand that language barriers may make explaining regulations more difficult; have printed guidelines ready.
  • Some countries may prohibit paints containing certain hazardous pigments. Check for restrictions based on paint ingredients.
  • When transiting through other countries, verify if their regulations apply even for short layovers.

Can I Use Acrylic Paint on Luggage? Customizing Your Travel Gear

For an artistic touch, many people enjoy customizing their luggage with acrylic paint designs. This is permitted as long as you follow general guidelines:

  • Allow paint to fully dry/cure before packing bags to avoid transfer onto clothing. Odor should completely dissipate.
  • Avoid any paint mediums containing hazardous solvents. Acrylic is safest.
  • Restrict paint jobs to outer surfaces only. Painting interior fabric faces greater risk of rubbing off on contents.
  • Don’t paint over zippers, handles, or areas that undergo friction. This can cause chipping and damage.
  • Be conservative with quantity. Excessive paint or coats too thick can flag bags for inspection.
  • Remove or tightly seal lids of any liquid paint containers packed inside decorated luggage.
  • Understand that rough handling may damage custom paint jobs over time. Touch up as needed.

Troubleshooting and FAQs

Traveling with art supplies can bring up many questions. Here are some frequently asked questions and troubleshooting tips:

What if TSA prohibits my acrylic paint at the checkpoint?

If carry-on paint exceeds 3.4oz or any other restrictions, be cooperative if TSA requests you dispose of it before entering the gate area. Never attempt to conceal prohibited items. Depending on the agent’s discretion, they may be willing to gate-check your paint so it can still fly in checked baggage.

My acrylic paint leaked during flight. What should I do?

Immediately alert airline staff if you discover paint leakage in your luggage. Have absorbent materials like paper towels handy to contain any spills. Be prepared to file a damage claim with the airline if paint ruined any contents. In the future, take precautions like sealing lids with parafilm and packing horizontally.

Can I bring acrylic paint in my checked luggage on an international flight?

Regulations vary by country. Always check with both your airline and the destination’s security policies. Some nations limit quantity due to concerns over hazardous materials. Others prohibit certain pigments. Expect more thorough screening of paints when entering another country.

What’s the best way to pack acrylic paint for flights?

For carry-ons, pack small tubes or bottles (under 3.4 oz) together in a sealable plastic bag per 3-1-1 rules. In checked luggage, keep paint in original packaging with lids tightly sealed, then wrap in bubble wrap or clothing inside a hard case. Pack paint tubes horizontally.

Should I tell TSA agents I have acrylic paint?

Yes, have paint clearly marked and separated from other art supplies. Declare any paints when at security checkpoints and be cooperative if they need to inspect your bags. Being transparent helps ensure a smooth screening process.

Can I bring acrylic paint pens or markers on a plane?

Yes, acrylic-based pens and markers have no restrictions for air travel. They can be packed normally in carry-on or checked bags. Quantities are not limited. Just keep them with other art supplies or pens.

Is it okay to use acrylic paint on my luggage?

Yes, as long as paint is fully dry and cured before packing. Avoid painting over high-friction areas prone to chipping and focus paint jobs on external surfaces. Conservative designs are less likely to flag bags for inspection.


With proper packing techniques and understanding of airline policies, transporting your acrylic paints by air is hassle-free. By following TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for carry-ons, and keeping paint sealed in checked luggage, you can confidently bring your acrylic artwork supplies anywhere. Restrictions vary for other mediums like spray or oil paints, so always research both TSA and individual airline regulations. With care taken to avoid leaks, acrylic paint can safely accompany you on all your travels. Whether you’re a hobbyist painter or traveling artist, your next flight can also be an opportunity to spread your creative wings.

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