Aviation security

These rules allow airport retailing after security checks to be business as usual with no new restrictions, except for travellers transferring at another EU airport.

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  • ETRC Recommendations on Use of STEBs and carrier bags in Duty Free and Travel Retail februari 21, 2020 Download file Download here (.pdf)
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Aviation Security: An ever evolving agenda

ETRC has closely monitored the changes in aviation security and has worked proactively with stakeholders and EU policy-makers to develop appropriate actions in response to the threats, particularly in relation to Liquids, Aerosols and Gels (LAGs) into which category many products sold in duty-free and travel retail stores fall.

ETRC supports legislation, measures and procedures that will increase the efficient screening of passengers, and enhance the passenger experience and will support activities by airport operators and equipment manufactures that work towards this objective.

The duty-free and travel retail channel is one of the most secure supply chains, with long established requirements for a secure environment. However, in recent years, increased regulation and/or restrictions have been introduced in response to the insecure global environment (terrorism).

LAGs and STEBs

Following the exposure of a terrorist plot to blow up US bound aircraft uncovered in August 2006 which led to a ban on all liquids being carried on board aircraft, ETRC worked with the European Commission to develop a system whereby passengers travelling within the EU and transferring at EU airports, plus Switzerland and Norway, could carry through security products purchased from duty free and travel retail stores if sealed in Security Tamper Evident Bags (STEBs). This was subsequently extended to passengers flying into the EU and transferring to another flight from Singapore, Croatia, Kuala Lumpa International Airport, as well as from all US and Canadian international airports.

In 2011, the European Union postponed implementation of part of Regulation (EC) No 272/2009 which called for the lifting of restrictions for transfer passengers carrying LAGs, in response to concerns by some EU Member States and airport operators that the equipment then available did not screen transfer passengers efficiently and speedily enough. Ultimately, that Regulation was meant to lift all restrictions for passengers carrying LAGs by the 29 April 2013 deadline, whether from landside to airside, such as personal toiletries, or products purchased from duty-free and travel retail stores.

In July 2012 however, the European Commission announced its recommendation for a postponement of the April 2013 deadline for the lifting of present restrictions on the carriage of LAGs on board aircraft. This followed the results of a study and trials undertaken in 12 EU airports that established that technology available was not yet fit for purpose to allow for a smooth implementation of the Regulation.

A revised proposal to amend existing legislation was brought forward by the European Commission in autumn 2012 and was accompanied by a roadmap setting out a timeline for a phased lifting of all restrictions on LAGs to be replaced by a regime based on new screening technologies for liquid explosives. This was adopted by EU Member States in March 2013.

LAGs Screening Regime since January 31, 2014

On 31 January 2014, new rules regarding the carriage of LAGs in hand luggage entered into force in the European Union (28 Member States of the EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA, comprised of Switzerland, Iceland and Norway), the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Passengers transferring at European (EU and EEA), and Canadian airports are allowed to carry duty free LAGs bought at an airport or onboard an aircraft anywhere in the world, provided they are sealed in an ICAO approved STEB (Security Tamper-Evident Bag) together with proof of purchase (receipt inside the STEB). LAGs over 100ml will have to be successfully screened with enhanced screening technology at the transfer airport security check point. Duty free LAGs in containers of 100 ml or less do not need to be screened but should be carried separately in STEBs.

The situation for the USA is different: only passengers going to the US and transferring onwards from a direct flight from the EU/Canada/Australia, or having transferred through the EU/Canada/Australia will be allowed to carry duty-free LAGs in a STEB once successfully screened at the US transfer airport security check point. For passengers coming from or transferring in other countries, rules don’t change.

ETRC has produced Recommendations and Guidelines that set out the changes that will come into effect on 31 January 2014 and the resultant steps retailers need to take to facilitate passengers transferring at an EU (plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland), Canadian, American or Australian airport. The document is available for download in the Member section.

The way forward

It is the objective of the European Commission to continue working towards the full lifting of restrictions on LAGs when operationnally feasible, as well as continously assessing and addressing potential threats to aviation security in Europe and across the globe.


Over the last years, ETRC has worked closely with EU regulators and all stakeholders involved, and will continue doing so to ensure the implementation of the new security regime is as smooth and trouble free as possible for airports, retailers and – crucially – passengers, while enhancing aviation security standards.