STAY LEGAL! 11 tips for travelling with CBD oil from someone with experience
Written by Cathy Rozyczko
Edited by ctroussier on
September 16, 2021
I’ve been poking around the interweb a bit for travelling with CBD tips and was a little surprised…
I think that writers now who are writing this kind of content are playing it very safe. They don’t want to make any claims or get anyone into trouble. Or perhaps, they just don’t have the experience to know what’s a good idea and what’s not when travelling with CBD.
I’ve travelled a lot, both domestically and internationally, with CBD products in tow. Here’s the REAL DEAL: what you need to know to stay safe and stay legal with CBD when flying. This is honest advice to keep you from getting into trouble when travelling with CBD. Bon voyage!
1. Bring a CBD COA with you. Always.
There is no exception to this rule. Call me a nerd. Call me going overboard. I don’t care. The safest way to make sure you are protected legally when travelling with CBD or any cannabinoid product is to provide a third-party Certificate of Analysis (COA) of the product.
A lot of CBD vendors will mail one of these with the product. Others, you may have to look up the product with a QR code after you receive it to access third-party test results.
The COA should clearly explain the product you have (i.e. “CBD oil tincture”) along with a list of cannabinoids present in the product at varying levels. It should have the name of a reputable laboratory and have been performed within the past year or less.
This is a way to prove to anyone you want that your CBD product does not have illegal levels of THC. It proves you know the law, and that you’re not trying to transport marijuana. You’re simply a CBD user who wants to take their supplements!
When flying with CBD products, you can print out the COA, fold it up really small, and tape it to the packaging. That way it’s just stuck there and easily accessible. With CBD creams, I tape it to the bottom. If you don’t want to put in this work, at the very least have a link to the COA ready to go on your phone.
2. Don’t travel with CBD flower.
I myself smoke CBD flower and CBG flower occasionally. But I have never flown with them in flower form. Ever. And I never will.
CBD flower and CBG flower, etc. look identical to marijuana (aka high-THC cannabis still illegal at the federal level in the US) to the untrained eye…even the trained one! I guarantee you, if you lined up potent CBD flower mixed in with traditional cannabis, I would have trouble differentiating the two.
As much as the CBD industry has been advancing, CBD flower still looks like ‘pot’. And it smells like it too, especially if it’s strong in certain terpenes like limonene common to popular cannabis strains like Sour Diesel.
Which brings me to the dogs.
The LAST thing you want when you’re travelling ANYWHERE is to have one of the canine units hitting on your bag, even if you’re not technically doing anything illegal.
The dogs used by TSA, border patrol, etc. have powerful noses trained to pick up on the scent of cannabis…
Do you honestly think ALL these dogs have been trained to pick up ‘only’ on cannabis with 0.3% THC or higher by dry weight? In the US? In Mexico? Across Europe? Asia?
Come on! While the cannabinoid industry has been booming all over the world and granted, a lot of people are waking up to the potential of products like CBD flower for health purposes, the commercialization of cannabinoids is still in its infancy.
Especially if you’re travelling internationally, please do not travel with CBD flower.
Even if you have a COA. Even if you think the country’s laws will allow it. Don’t do it. You don’t want to risk the trouble.
And honestly, the same thing goes for the US, unless you are travelling within or between states where marijuana possession has been legalized. And I would only do it if driving…
Bottom Line- Do not bring CBD flower into an airport.
A good example of how domestic travel with CBD flower could cause you trouble is North Carolina. The police force there acknowledged my exact point about the dogs: they haven’t had adequate training (might not exist yet) to differentiate between marijuana and CBD flower and were thus considering outlawing it altogether in the state.
If you’re super into hemp flower and can’t live without it, buy CBD flower online and have it shipped to your destination. It’s not worth getting hassled, having a German Shepherd bark at your bag, etc.
3. Probably don’t travel with CBD cigs/joints either.
Here’s the thing, I’ve travelled on a commercial flight within the US with CBD cigarettes before. I put them in my carryon along with the COA. Honestly, I think TSA just thought they were normal cigarettes and didn’t look twice…
That said, had a dog been there, I could have been in for a hassle. Maybe large, maybe small, but I think it’s best to just avoid the whole CBD flower smell/appearance, and that includes CBD cigarettes and CBD joints.
Get CBD cigarettes delivered to the destination or a friend if you want them for your trip.
And no matter what, if you take the risk to fly with CBD cigarettes, put them in your carryon! Don’t put them in your checked bag. In the carryon, you can quickly provide a COA and explain your CBD product. If TSA even suspects there is illegal cannabis in your checked bag, it’s going to be a major hassle for you.
4. Put CBD products in your carryon when flying.
I realize you may have a CBD product you want to bring with a volume that exceeds the TSA requirements. But whenever possible, put your CBD products in your carryon bag when flying commercially with CBD.
It’s just a better look. You’re being transparent. The COA is there. And if you do end up getting questioned, it will likely go by more quickly than if TSA spots something in your checked luggage.
The stakes are even higher when travelling internationally. Putting your CBD products in your carryon is CRITICAL for international travelling with CBD. I won’t bring up the dogs again, but you get the point. Scary.
5. If you’re travelling internationally, do your research on laws and regulations.
Seriously. Figure out what the laws are in the destination country and your current country of residence. Understand them clearly. If you can’t understand the rules fully, don’t bring it. Here’s a few tips from my personal experience travelling with CBD:
Can you bring CBD to Europe?
Yes, technically you can bring CBD to Europe. Like the US, the EU has legalized all hemp products with 0.3% or less THC. Be safe and bring a CBD isolate or broad spectrum product; you shouldn’t have a problem. Plus, you can just buy it there!
Can you bring CBD to Canada?
YOU CANNOT BRING CBD INTO CANADA. It’s considered the same substance as cannabis (which is legalized there), and that cannot be brought into the country by tourists. Leave your CBD at home, you can get plenty when you’re there.
Can you bring CBD to Panama?
I brought full spectrum CBD topicals and tinctures here without incident. But honestly, the legality is a bit dicey and I probably won’t risk it again. Medicinal cannabis is not yet part of the public consciousness in Panama; most still view it as an illegal drug.
Can you bring CBD to Costa Rica?
CBD has gained a ton of popularity in Costa Rica and is legal. Yes, you can technically bring CBD to Costa Rica. You shouldn’t have a problem, but as always, bring your COA and put your CBD oil in your carryon. (I’m going to share a story about CBD in Costa Rica in a bit that explains why educating yourself and bringing a COA are clutch in a jam).
Can you bring CBD to Mexico?
This is a tough one because there are plenty of places to buy CBD in certain areas of Mexico. That said, there are some grey areas from a legal standpoint. For me, I think it’s best to buy it there from a licensed distributor, preferably with a US-based brand. If you’ve ever had an encounter with the Mexican police, you already know this is one you won’t want to mess with.
Can you bring CBD to Puerto Rico?
I’ve been here twice with CBD tinctures and capsules. Cannabis with higher THC content is legal for those with a medical card, so you probably won’t have a problem with CBD here.
Can you bring CBD to Colombia?
CBD oil is perfectly legal in Colombia, and the country itself is now producing organic CBD. You can technically bring CBD to Colombia. You shouldn’t have a problem travelling to Colombia with CBD, provided it’s sourced from CBD isolate or broad spectrum CBD, and you have a COA. (The rest of South America varies a lot, so do your research.)
6. What countries to NOT bring CBD in any form.
This list reflects my honest opinion of countries where I would NOT bring CBD oil with me on my travels. This list is based on current laws, cultural attitudes, etc. that I’m familiar with. You cannot legally bring CBD to the following countries:
- South Africa
- Philippines– According to our CBD Oil Review staffer Jez (who is from the Philippines), cannabis in all forms is completely illegal and not used out in the open. So don’t bring CBD here!
7. If you’re travelling internationally with CBD, bringing an isolate or broad spectrum product is a good idea.
Listen, I’m a full spectrum gal myself. I’m a cannabinoid nerd, and that’s why I think it’s fantastic that compounds like CBG and CBN are gaining steam in the wellness world. Full spectrum CBD is my top choice for everyday life…
But international travel is a different story.
As you can tell about some of the countries we’ve talked about, CBD legality can be highly nuanced. Case in point: In the US, CBD with under 0.3% THC by weight is legal; in Europe, that number used to be 0.2% until it was raised to 0.3% recently; in Colombia, the number is 0.1%.
My advice is that if you DO choose to travel internationally with CBD, play it safe and bring a product made with CBD isolate or broad spectrum CBD. No full spectrum.
8. If you’re travelling within the US, you should be good with full spectrum CBD. (But still do your research)
You should be OK travelling within the US with full spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD. I have never had an issue with it domestically, and more people now realize that cannabinoid products like CBD are legal at a federal level.
The exception to this is what I mentioned earlier: full or broad spectrum CBD flower and CBD cigarettes. These look and smell too similar to marijuana buds and joints, and you should purchase once you arrive at your destination or have them shipped there. Not worth the risk.
CBD state laws can be nuanced, so when in doubt, do your research.
9. CBD tinctures, capsules, and creams are the way to go.
CBD tinctures and CBD capsules are the easiest to travel with. I personally prefer travelling with CBD capsules because I put them in my little vitamin calendar box and don’t miss a dose.
I advocate travelling with CBD cream for a completely different reason. A quality CBD cream or CBD salve with other all-natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients is good to keep around when you’re travelling. From insect bites to rashes and little pains, CBD cream can come in handy in a pinch, and it certainly has for me.
10. Once you get there, keep CBD in your room.
I can support this CBD travel tip with anecdotal evidence. My friend owns an upscale surf camp in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Recently, one of the guests at the camp got pulled over by local police in her rental car. In her purse, they found full spectrum CBD tinctures and decided to hassle her about it. The two cops searched her car and even counted all the money in her wallet. Looking for a bribe perhaps? Who knows. The guest did not speak Spanish, so we don’t know exactly what was said. They eventually let her go, but she was shook.
This scenario is a good reminder that keeping CBD in your room is the best idea. Although CBD is perfectly legal in Costa Rica and other countries, perhaps not all law enforcement has been properly trained. And sometimes, you may just be getting hassled because you’re a foreigner. Either way, keep your CBD safe in your room. Don’t go bombing around town with it in tow when you’re traveling internationally with CBD oil!
Teaching moment– Had the woman in this scenario had a COA on her and been thoroughly educated on cannabinoids, I speculate that she might have gotten out of the hassle before it began. Granted, she would have had to speak the language. There’s a hidden lesson in this one that I think is sound advice to add:
Bonus tip: Don’t travel with CBD or other cannabis products to destinations where you don’t speak the language.
11. Educate yourself on cannabinoids.
Before you travel anywhere with CBD, I suggest educating yourself a bit on cannabinoids. You’ll obviously want to research international CBD regulations if you’re going out of the country. But it’s also good to know what cannabinoids like CBD do and what distinguishes them from THC. This can arm you with the information you need to stand up to questioning. It also happens to be fascinating information…
Being educated about cannabinoids always serves the CBD user well! I hope this article gave you ins and outs others might not talk about. Find out more about cannabinoids and enjoy your travels!
+ 10 sources
Pew Trusts, North Carolina Health News January 15. “Cannabis Confusion Pushes States to Ban Smokable Hemp.” North Carolina Health News, 12 Apr. 2021
Hoban, Robert. “Europe Aligns With U.S. on Industrial Hemp THC REQUIREMENTS.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 25 Nov. 2020
Canada, Health. “Government of Canada.” Cannabis and Canadian Borders - Canada.ca, / Gouvernement Du Canada, 12 Aug. 2020
Robinson, Anthony. “Panamá Opens the Door to the Legalization of Medicinal Cannabis with a Proposed Law.” Lexology, Greenberg Traurig LLP, 13 Mar. 2018
Rpetersen. “Cannabis and HEMP Legalization in Costa Rica.” CostaRicaLaw.com, 11 May 2020
Martínez, León A. “Qué Productos De Cannabis LIBERÓ La COFEPRIS y Cuál Es SU USO?” El Economista, El Economista, 16 Aug. 2019
“Becoming a Patient in Puerto Rico.” Americans for Safe Access
“Conscious Cannabis Production in the Heart of Colombia.” Armadillo Botanics
Xiong, Yong, and Ben Westcott. “Beijing Says Us Legalization of Marijuana Is a 'Threat to China'.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 June 2019
Staff, India.com Lifestyle. “What Is CBD Oil and Will You Be Jailed for Buying IT? New Findings in Ssr Case Put Common Man in a Fix.” India News, Breaking News | India.com, 23 Sept. 2020
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