Which countries require TSA locks? This is a question many people ask themselves before embarking on an international journey, business trip, or any other type of trip overseas. Well, the answer is zero countries require you to use a TSA lock.
However, there’s a list of countries that use the Travel Sentry lock system. Travel Sentry is the creator of the TSA-approved lock. You may have seen the red diamond logo below on all TSA-approved locks. This design by Travel Sentry tells TSA agents you’re using a TSA-approved lock.
TSA agents will open your suitcase with a TSA master key that opens all Travel Sentry locks instead of cutting your lock.
Here’s where it becomes mandatory to use a TSA-approved lock. In the United States, TSA has the right to search your luggage without you being present. If you choose to use a non-TSA approved lock, then the TSA agent can cut your lock.
List of Countries Using the Travel Sentry Lock System
Below is a list of countries that are currently using the Travel Sentry TSA-approved lock system. When traveling to/from these countries, it’s advisable to use a TSA-approved lock to avoid having your lock cut or your luggage compromised:
- All United States controlled airports including the U.S. mainland, Hawaii. Alaska, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Canada (all airports)
At major airports in the following countries:
- South Korea
- New Zealand
Below is a complete up-to-date chart of countries that have adopted the Travel Sentry system:
These are all the countries currently using the Travel Sentry system. Expect this list to grow each year as more countries adopt the system.
Travel Sentry first began manufacturing its locks in 2003, and a year later, luggage with integrated TSA combination locks became available to the public.
Advantages of Using TSA-Approved Luggage Locks
There are several reasons why you should always use a TSA luggage lock when flying anywhere in the world:
- If you use a non-TSA luggage lock, and TSA decides to cut your lock, you’re left with a bag that can be easily opened by pulling on the zipper. Since your bag travels through baggage handlers and along the baggage claim conveyor belts, there are many areas where your zippers can catch leading to your bag opening.
- TSA agents are less likely to physically search your bag if you’re using a TSA lock. Imagine if a TSA agent sees a big non-TSA lock, he or she may become suspicious of your bag and decide to search it. Then, you’re left with a bag without a lock.
- TSA locks come in several varieties to suit everyone’s needs. There are combination locks, keyed locks, cable locks, suitcases with built-in TSA locks, and even luggage straps with TSA-approved combination locks. I’ll go over my top picks for best TSA luggage locks in the next section.
- If you use an expensive non-TSA lock thinking it’ll keep your bag more secure, TSA can still cut it, and they won’t reimburse you the money you paid for your lock. In United States controlled airports, they have the right to search your bags because your bags must be openable.
- TSA locks don’t expire. No matter how old your Travel Sentry lock is, TSA will have a master key to open it. There are numbers on the bottom of each lock next to the keyhole starting with TSA001 up to TSA007 that alert TSA agents which master key to use.
- Personally, I use a rolling suitcase with a built-in TSA combination lock, and it comes in handy for securing my valuables outside of the airport as well. You can use your TSA locks inside your hotel, apartment rental, Airbnb or hostel.
The Best TSA-Approved Luggage Locks
As mentioned in the previous section, there are several types of TSA luggage locks that are great for international travel.
The most popular and my personal favorite are the three or four-digit combination locks. Try to purchase locks with white on black numbers that are easy to see. You also want to go for locks that have smooth scrolling larger dials.
Locks with tiny dials and numbers that are hard to read become annoying when you need to open your bag in a hurry. Click here or the image below to check out a trustworthy brand of quality TSA combination locks:
Second, you can go for the keyed TSA padlocks. I’ve used these for years now. I use both the combination and keyed locks.
What I like about the keyed locks is I can open them faster, and they’re great to use on my carry-on backpack. I prefer to use a combination padlock on my suitcase when I fly because the shackle is thicker, and the lock feels more secure.
Click here or the image below to view a reliable set of keyed TSA padlocks at Amazon:
Another type of popular TSA lock is the cable lock. These are good to use on backpacks when you want to lock more than two zippers at once. They can also fit through small holes in zippers that thicker shackles can’t pass through.
Click here or the image below to view a reliable TSA cable lock:
Last in this section is the luggage strap with an integrated TSA combination lock. This is the one type of lock I’ve never used and don’t plan on using, but you may find you prefer this type of lock.
Click here or the image below to check out a reliable TSA luggage strap:
Luggage with Built-in TSA Combination Lock
I’ve been using the same suitcase to travel steadily for the past several years, and it’s still treating me quite well with minimal scratches and wear.
I prefer to use hard-side luggage because it rolls more evenly and makes it easier for me to organize my items without them moving around much in transit.
Click here or the image below to view the exact Samsonite rolling suitcase I’ve been using for the past three years and love:
This may seem strange to some of you, but I prefer not to use the built-in combination lock when I fly. Instead, I lock the zippers with this Stanley TSA-approved padlock.
Why? Because I’m not 100% confident a TSA agent in a foreign country won’t break my zipper lock to inspect my bag.
Maybe they don’t have the right key? If an agent breaks my zipper lock, then my suitcase is damaged. It’s something to think about if you decide to buy luggage with an integrated TSA lock.
When to Use Non-TSA Luggage Locks
Non-TSA luggage locks come in handy once you arrive at your destination to secure your baggage to a fixed object or for higher security since TSA locks aren’t the most secure locks in the world.
I wrote an article dedicated to the best non-TSA luggage locks that you might want check out. There, you’ll find some clever ideas I use to keep my bags safe while traveling internationally.
There’s nothing quite like the extra peace of mind you get knowing your possessions are safe while traveling through a foreign land. The last thing I want to worry about is my possessions while I’m outside digging the new scenery.
You can also check out the RFID-blocking hidden money belt I use to store my passport, money, and credit cards while flying and when I arrive at my destination. It’s my favorite item in my anti-theft gear collection.
At this point, you know everything there is to know about which countries require TSA locks, the best TSA luggage locks, and the advantages of using TSA-approved luggage locks when traveling internationally.
Be sure to bookmark this article and check back any time you’re concerned about a new country adopting the Travel Sentry system because I’ll make sure to keep this article updated.
Also, please remember once again to avoid using luggage locks on your backpack while walking around outside in a foreign country. If you do, please don’t put anything valuable in the pockets you lock because pickpockets target bags with locks on them.
One last reminder, keep your valuables locked up inside your hotel using your TSA lock or one of the non-TSA locks found in my guides.
Other than that, safe travels and have a blast wherever your travels may lead you!