Tips for Taking Your Laptop Safely Through Airport Security

Getting through security with your laptop can be easier than you think, if you make the preparation for your laptop inspection part of your personal inspection routine.

  1. Be prepared to prove to Customs that the laptop is yours:
    On your return from abroad, U.S. Customs officials may charge you a duty fee to bring your laptop into the country, unless you can prove that you purchased it in the United States. So bring the original documentation with you when you leave the country. And, to speed your trip through Customs, get it ready to show while you are standing in line. 
  2. Be ready when they ask to visually inspect your computer:
    If they ask you to turn on your laptop to prove it's a working computer, that will mean booting up, which can take time. To be prepared, turn your laptop on before you get into the line. Put it into sleep mode for carrying. Then, all you'll need to do for the inspection is type in your password. 
  3. Don't try to save time by packing your laptop in your checked luggage:
    The risk of theft is high for any valuable item that you pack in your checked luggage. So carry the laptop with you, but protect it from opportunistic thieves by making sure some part of your body is touching the laptop at all times.  If you absolutely must lay the laptop beside you, put an arm or leg through the strap.
  4. Protect your laptop from screening devices:
    Don't run your laptop through anything other than the airport security x-ray machines. Keep it away from other screening equipment and request that the laptop be physically inspected, instead.