Travelling with sacred and spiritual items

CATSA is committed to providing a positive security screening experience to all travellers.

We recognize that persons wearing or carrying sacred or spiritual items may have preferences on how and when their items are handled during the screening process. While all persons and their belongings must be screened and cleared, screening officers are instructed to treat items with the utmost respect and care and to screen sacred and spiritual items without holding or touching them.

Below you will find tips for packing and screening sacred or spiritual items.

Checked baggage

We do not recommend packing delicate or fragile items in your checked baggage. While most checked baggage is screened without the need for a physical bag search, there are situations where CATSA may need to physically inspect your checked baggage during the screening process.

Going through pre-board security screening with sacred or spiritual items

Before the screening process begins, let the screening officer know you have a sacred or spiritual item in your possession and advise the officer if:

  • your sacred or spiritual item cannot be physically touched;
  • there is a specific protocol for handling your sacred or spiritual item;
  • an item cannot go through X-ray screening;
  • an item cannot be screened by a screening officer of a particular gender;
  • you must keep wearing the sacred or spiritual item during screening.

The screening officer will provide you with screening options for the item based on the nature of the item and your preference.You can always request that the item be screened in a private search area if you feel more comfortable.

Common examples of sacred or spiritual items include but are not limited to:

  • Plants
  • Beads
  • Sage
  • Tobacco
  • Talking Sticks
  • Powder and granular materials
  • Holy water/oil
  • Medicine pouch
  • Head coverings
  • Clothing
  • Ceremonial pipe
  • Drum
  • Prayer fabric
  • Kirpan

If flying within Canada or to an international (non-U.S.) destination, ceremonial knives and swords (e.g. a kirpan) with a blade 6 cm or less in length are permitted through the pre-board screening checkpoint. Blades longer than 6 cm should be packed in your checked baggage. Blades of any type or length are not permitted on flights to the U.S. Transport Canada offers a detailed list of prohibited items for passengers on all flights.