Liquids, aerosols, and gels

Following a terrorist plot in 2006 where the plan was to take liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks onto aircraft, countries, including New Zealand, restricted the volume of liquids, aerosols and gels passengers can take onto international flights. The restrictions:

  • apply only to carry-on items for international flights;
  • do not apply to checked baggage for international flights; and
  • do not apply to domestic flights.


The restrictions

The restrictions limit the volume of liquids, aerosols, and gels carried by a single passenger on an international flight:

  • To individual containers of 100ml /100g or less. This restriction applies to the size of the container and not its content.  If a container is larger than 100ml and the content is less than 100ml, the item will still be prohibited.
  • The total number of containers that are 100ml or less must not exceed one volumetric litre.  Passengers should present all the liquids, aerosols, and gels in a single re-sealable 20cm by 20cm [one volumetric litre] plastic bag. Any excess will not be allowed onto the aircraft. 

Categories of liquids, aerosols and gels

The following table includes examples of the items affected by the restrictions.  Other items not listed, that have a similar consistency, will also be subject to the restrictions.




With a high liquid content:

Cream, oil, soup, foods in sauces, sauces, stew, honey, seafood in liquid, syrup


That is spreadable:

Butter, margarine, sandwich spreads, jam, paste




Cold beverages:

Alcohol, milk, water, energy drinks, soft drinks, fruit drinks, tea


Hot beverages:

Coffee, hot chocolate, tea








Creams, lotions, lip balm, solutions, gels 



Refer Prescription medicine







Cleaners [products used to maintain a person's hygiene]:

Creams, lotions, shaving products, toothpaste, gel, hair products


Cosmetics [non-medical preparations that are applied to improve one's appearance]:

Concealer, lipstick, moisturiser, foundation, mascara, primer, hair gel, hair spray, hair wax



Perfumes, deodorants [includes roll-on, spray and stick forms]







With high a liquid content:

Cleaning products, oil, degreasers, paint



Foam, paste, waxy substances







Gel pads, snow globes



Prescription medicine

You will be allowed to take creams, lotions, balms, gels and solutions in excess of the limits if:

  • they have been prescribed to you by a registered medical practitioner; and
  • the prescription is in your name which matches the name on your travel documents; and
  • the prescription is in its original packaging; and
  • you have evidence from your medical practitioner that you require the medicine during the flight [if this is not obvious from the prescription].

You will be allowed an amount necessary for the duration of your flight. When you are assessing how much medicine to take you should account for the time leading up to departure, the duration of the flight (including any transits) and the time to uplift your luggage when you arrive at your destination.  Remember you will be able to carry additional medicine in checked luggage.

If you are taking an amount that could be considered excessive you will need to provide information from a registered medical practitioner on why you should be allowed to carry excess medicine as carry-on.

If your medicine requires to be transported in a “Fridge-to-Go Medical Travel Wallet” or similar cooling container, the packs of cooling gel are also be exempt from these restrictions.


Non-prescription medicine

You will be allowed to take non-prescription medicine with you to treat medical conditions treatment such as lip balm for cracked lips, or creams and lotions to treat skin conditions such as eczema.  You will only be able to take an amount necessary for the flight and these should be in containers less than 100ml. 

If you take more than is necessary you may be prevented from carrying any of it onto the aircraft.  If the non-prescription medicine [e.g. cough syrup] comes in a non-liquid form [e.g. lozenge] you should always carry the non-liquid form when flying. 


Special diets

Before you will be permitted to bring food with high liquid content or that is spreadable [e.g. honey] you must present evidence from a medical practitioner that you are on a special diet for medical reasons and the specifics of your diet. 

You will only be allowed food or liquids that have been commercially packed, are unopened and in amounts considered reasonable for the flight.


Travelling with a young child

If you are travelling with a young child you will be allowed to take additional food, drink and toiletries in amounts considered reasonable for the flight that are in excess of the restrictions.  When working out how much to take, include the time leading up to departure, the duration of the flight with any transits on the way, and the time to collect your luggage once you arrive at your destination. 

Aviation Security receives enquiries from parents travelling with young children about whether they can take the following:


You can take:

  •   formula both in powder or liquid form
  •   milk [all types]
  •   fruit drink
  •   sterile water [in refillable flasks]. 


You can take baby food, both commercial or homemade


You can take:

  •   Wet wipes
  •   Vaseline/nappy cream

Non-prescription   medicine

You can take:

  •   Pamol [or other child-specific pain reliever]
  •   Teething gel

Prescription   medicine

Refer to Prescription medicine


Common problems

The following are examples of what happens when liquids, aerosols and gels restrictions are not complied with:

Refillable flask relinquished

Refillable flasks must be given up when there are no facilities at security screening for tipping out the contents and the passenger cannot consume the contents. Empty the refillable flask before you enter the security area.

Frozen food

Food that is frozen is still subject to the liquids, aerosols, and gels restrictions if at room temperature the food’s normal state is a liquid or is spreadable.

Packed food

You can bring your own food for the flight including sandwiches, muffins, cake, chips or crackers – or transport a [wedding] cake - but do not bring food with high water content or that is spreadable such as blocks of cheese or yoghurt. 

The officer screening your luggage is authorised to decide whether an item is restricted. If you have any doubts leave it at home. At some airports you will be   able to buy food following security screening.

Duty free goods

Duty free goods purchased after security screening is not subject to these restrictions but if you are going through other countries on your trip check what you need to do at each airport you will be travelling through.

Useful links

LAGs Flyer (click here to view the flyer on your mobile device)

Flysmart media release