What Is the TSA Contact Lens Solution PolicyBy Amy Curtis; Updated June 08, 2017
Tips for packing your contact lens supplies
As any seasoned traveler can attest, the TSA is strict about liquids carried onto a plane. Thanks to the 3-1-1 rule, each passenger can carry on only one 1-quart-sized zippered plastic bag with small containers of liquid inside. That’s all very well and good for people whose only difficulty is finding their favorite toiletries in travel sizes. But what can be done about necessities like contact lens solution? What if that little bottle of contact lens solution won’t last for the whole trip?
3-1-1 compliant contact lens solution
To be 3-1-1 compliant, contact lens solution has to be in a bottle that holds 3.4 ounces or less. You can find this size easily, but it's not a lot of contact lens solution.
The size of the bottle is the determining factor as to whether the liquid is 3-1-1 compliant. Even if the liquid inside the bottle is less than 3 ounces, if the bottle will hold more, it’s not allowed.
Some travelers get around this problem by eliminating other liquids in their carry-on and carrying only little bottles of contact lens solution. There are ways to manage this while still carrying toiletries, such as switching to solid forms of items like shampoo, soap and deodorant. Other people choose to travel with daily contact lenses, eliminating the need to travel with large bottles of solution. You may, however, have another solution.
Exceptions to 3-1-1
The TSA makes allowances for “medically necessary” liquids. This means that certain substances, like medications and infant formula, can be carried in larger quantities than are allowed by the 3-1-1 rule. They should be labeled, though, and you must declare them to the TSA security agents at the checkpoint. Contact lens solution makes the list of medically necessary liquids, but there’s a caveat: It’s the agent’s discretion whether to allow the larger liquids.
Because the possibility exists that a TSA agent may not allow the contact lens solution as a 3-1-1 exception, the smart move is to play it safe. The best way to do this is to pack that large bottle of contact lens solution into your checked luggage. Before doing this, however, it’s wise to check the airline’s baggage policy to be sure of any charges for checking bags.
Of course, as with any other liquid, it’s possible to purchase contact lens solution upon arrival at your destination. Unless you have allergies or other issues, it’s a relatively easy product to find – even on the other side of the globe.