How Much Perfume Can You Take on a Plane?

  • By: Nathan Cherry
  • Time to read: 7 min.

If you’re a perfume lover, or if you’ve even just bought perfume in another country or somewhere away from home, you’ve probably had to deal with the TSA’s oftentimes draconian rules about liquids. 

I myself recently moved my entire perfume collection (30 bottles and hundreds of samples, at the time) overseas, and was on pins and needles before, during, and after. 

But fear not. Though the TSA can be massively frustrating in…well, a lot of ways, they’re actually pretty straightforward when it comes to moving perfumes.

The rules are clear-cut. You can bring however many 3.4 oz (100ml) bottles you can fit in a single plastic bag in your carry-on. Checked baggage has no size limit, and so you can put as many bottles in your checked bag(s) as can fit. 

Seems simple right? 

It is simple, but there is a little bit more to it than that. 

Find out more down below. 

How much perfume can I take in my carry-on bag? 

Perfume is classified by the TSA as a standard liquid, like hair gel or mouthwash, and so the standard liquid rule applies. 

Whether it be perfume or pomade, any standard liquid has a hard size limit of 3.4 oz (100ml)

As luck would have it, though, most perfumes come in 1.7 oz (50ml), 2.5 oz (75ml) or 3.4 oz (100ml) bottles. 

“Great!” you might be thinking. “I can bring a whole boatload of perfumes with me on my carry-on!” 

Hold your horses there, pal. There’s a caveat to this rule, which is an additional rule: the 3-1-1 rule

The 3-1-1 rule is as follows: 

  1. A passenger may only bring liquid containers of up to 3.4 oz in size in their carry-on (3). 
  2. A passenger must store said containers in a clear, 1 quart (1 liter), 6 x 9 in. (15.24 x 22.86 cm) or 8 x 7 in. (20 x 17.5 cm) resealable plastic bag. (1) 
  3. Every passenger may have only one of these plastic bags in their carry-on luggage. (1)

That means that you have to put everything, including your perfume(s), toothpaste, mouthwash, liquid makeup, lotions, hair cream, hairspray, and so on, in a single plastic bag. 

That might seem like a daunting task, but in reality, 1 quart is actually quite a lot of space. So long as you’re not bringing your whole bathroom with you, you should be able to fit quite a few perfume bottles in that bag. 

I myself managed to squeeze 9 1.7 or 3.4 oz bottles into my plastic bag and had room to spare on my recent move. 

For the most part, most people aren’t like me and don’t have a ridiculous amount of perfumes to transport either. 

If you’re only taking one or two perfumes with you, you should have little difficulty fitting them in your plastic bag. 

To recap:

You can take as many up to 3.4 oz (100ml) bottles of perfume with you in your carry-on that can fit in one 1 quart clear plastic bag, along with your other toiletries and liquids. 

How much perfume can I take in my checked bag? 

In your checked bag you have a lot more flexibility in terms of carrying perfumes. 

While carry-on bags might have a size limit, checked bags don’t. That means if you have perfume bottles that are larger than 3.4 oz (100ml), you need to pack them in your checked bag. 

As I mentioned before, the most standard size for perfume bottles is 1.7 oz (50ml), 2.5 oz (75ml) or 3.4 oz (100ml), but larger sizes are definitely not out of the question. 

The vast majority of popular perfume brands make at the very least a 6.7 oz (200ml) sized bottle (as is the case of Dior Sauvage, Chanel’s Bleu de Chanel, and Hermès’ Terre d’Hermès), while Dior’s La Collection Privé line has a whopping 8.5 oz (250ml) option. 

These must go in your checked bag, period. There’s no way you can take something that big in your carry-on. 

But you can bring as many bottles of perfume in your checked bag as you want – providing that they fit and don’t exceed the weight limit. 

I’ve heard of some people (crazier than me) transporting upwards of a hundred perfume bottles in their checked bag, or even having a whole separate suitcase just for perfume. 

But I’d wager that the average person won’t have any need for that, so you will more than likely be just fine packing a few perfumes in your checked bags that might not have fit in your carry-on. 

To recap:

You can take as much perfume in your checked bag as can fit, so long as they don’t exceed the weight limit. If you have perfume bottles larger than 3.4 oz (100ml), you will need to pack them in your checked bag, instead of in your carry-on. 

Should I take my perfume in my carry-on or in my checked bag?

That depends. 

Of course, if you have a perfume in a larger bottle than 3.4 oz (100ml), definitely pack it in your checked bag. 

If you have too many other things and can’t fit your perfume into the plastic bag in your carry-on, pack it in your checked bag. 

If you have a huge collection of perfume like me, you’re definitely going to have to pack your bottles both in your carry-on and in your checked bag. 

But other than that? I would recommend that you take your perfume with you in your carry-on bag, rather than in your checked bag. 

There are a few reasons for this. 

Checked bags go missing

The first is that packing anything in a checked bag always carries an inherent risk. 

I mean, think about it. Checked bags go missing all the time. That’s just how the cookie crumbles, unfortunately. 

Perfume is an often expensive indulgence. That new Louis Vuitton or Chanel fragrance you bought in that fancy department store in Paris probably cost you more than a few of your hard earned smackers. 

Broken bottles

Not to mention that checked bags get banged up in transit. Glass bottles in checked bags get broken pretty much every day, even if they’ve been packed safely and securely. 

Taking your perfume with you in your carry-on mitigates some of that risk. At least if something happens to it, you’ll know exactly how and why. 

It also might prove difficult to pack a perfume in your checked bag, depending on the trip. Maybe you bought a boatload of other, bulkier souvenirs at your destination which you need to squeeze into your bag. Maybe you’re traveling in winter, and had to pack a bunch of scarves, sweaters, and layers to keep you warm. Or maybe, even if you packed normally, you simply don’t want to bring a large suitcase and don’t have the space to fit a perfume in your checked bag. 

For these reasons, I would say that it’s always better to take perfume with you in your carry-on, rather than in your checked bag. 

However, sometimes it’s simply unavoidable, as in my case, and you have to put your perfume in your checked bag. In that instance, make sure that you properly secure your perfume. Wrap it in protective materials, or even clothing, and make sure that it’s not situated at the bottom or the top of the bag, but rather somewhere in the middle where it can absorb shock. 

What if I don’t have enough room in my carry-on or my checked bag?

If that’s the case, then I’d say skip the perfume this time around. 

But if you really must be perfumed (I get it, believe me I do) despite not having enough space in your bags, then perhaps you could invest in a travel spray. 

As the name implies, travel sprays are small, portable atomizers of perfume made for the express purpose of being convenient for travelers. Usually, they’re around 0.3-0.5 oz (10-15ml), sleek, and slim enough to slip into your carry-on. 

Many major brands make travel sizes, often in stylish atomizers and with more affordable price tags. For a perfume collector like me they’re perfect, since there’s no way I need a 3.4 oz bottle of every single perfume I want. 

Check out fragrances like Le Labo’s Bergamote 22, Diptyque’s Philosykos EDP, Atelier Cologne’s Clementine California, or Vilhelm Parfumerie’s Poets of Berlin, all of which come in a handy travel size. 

A typical travel spray.

The Final Word

Traveling with a large collection of perfumes can be difficult, and I would advise against it if you can manage it. 

But for the most part, traveling with a handful of perfumes is really not all it’s cracked up to be. Once you understand a few simple rules, I think you’ll see that traveling with fragrances is a breeze. 

For carry-on bags, be sure that the perfume bottles you’re taking with you are 3.4 oz (100ml) or less and can fit in the single 1 quart plastic bag required by TSA. For checked bags, there is no size limit, but watch out for the weight limit and be sure to pack your perfume bottles carefully and securely to avoid any potential breakage in transit. 

If you’ve got those rules down, then you’ll have no problem traveling with your perfumes. Just make sure that you remember them if you go on a perfume shopping spree at your destination.