Banner image of passengers interacting with security officer at the scanners Banner image of passengers interacting with security officer at the scanners

Security screening 

Remember to prepare for your journey through security by removing all liquids and gels and placing them in a clear plastic bag

Security is our top priority

A key part of the security process is making sure our passengers do not take on board prohibited items and that we ensure the safety of all passengers and staff at London Gatwick. By following a few simple guidelines, you can help us make this quicker for you and other passengers. 

Allowing yourself plenty of time and knowing what is and isn’t allowed before you arrive will also save you time and make your journey more enjoyable.

How do I prepare for security?

Stringent security measures are in place at all UK airports so we've pulled together some guidance on how to prepare for security and what you can and can't take through. We've also included advice about specific items such as baby milk, medicines and electrical items.

Making sure passengers only bring appropriate items on board their flight is one of our biggest responsibilities.

Image showing passenger placing items in tray at the security scanners

Please follow this advice to ensure your journey through security is as smooth as possible:  

  • Have your boarding pass ready to scan. Your passport is not required at security
  • Have all your liquid toiletries in one transparent, re-sealable, airtight plastic bag of 20cm x 20cm in size. These toiletries include creams, gels, pastes, sprays and aerosols. The plastic bag should be separate from your handbag or hand luggage ready to be X-rayed
  • Take your laptop, iPad, Kindle and any other large electrical items out of your hand luggage ready to be X-rayed
  • Remove coats, jackets and belts. They will need to be X-rayed along with your bag
  • You may need to remove your shoes before going through the security archway

We recommend packing all food and powders in to hold luggage wherever possible. These items can obstruct images on X-ray machines and lead to extra manual bag checks. This may cause delays at security.

Hand luggage guidance

Hand luggage refers to the bags you carry through security and keep with you for your whole journey. Our general advice is to keep hand luggage to a minimum when possible. The general guidance for hand luggage is as follows: 

  • You can carry one piece of hand luggage (with some exceptions). This must not exceed 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. Most airlines do also allow passengers to carry a handbag too, but please check with your airline to make sure
  • Your hand luggage must not contain any prohibited items
  • If you do take liquids in your hand luggage containers must hold no more than 100ml. Containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm. Contents must fit comfortably inside the bag so it can be sealed, it must be airtight and the bag must not be knotted or tied at the top. You’re limited to 1 plastic bag per person and you must show the bag at the airport security point. 

You must ensure these liquid items follow our guidelines outlined in the guidance for specific items section. Security will discard liquid containers over 100ml regardless of how much liquid is inside the container.

Hold luggage guidance

Hold luggage refers to the bags that are checked in and stored in the hold of the plane. We recommend you put all you can in your hold luggage. You’ll have less to carry through the terminal, and it will be much quicker and easier to get through security.  

There are several items you can carry in hold luggage that you are not allowed to carry on board with you in your hand luggage. These include: 

  • Liquids, creams, gels and pastes in containers of over 100ml 
  • Sharp items including scissors 
  • Toy or replica guns (including water pistols) 
  • Razor blades (razors that have the blade set into a plastic moulding are allowed in hand luggage, but other types are not) 
  • Knives with blades of any length 
  • Hypodermic needles (unless required for medical reasons, for which you will need proof) 
  • Tools (including multi-tools and penknives) 
  • Catapults 
  • Walking/hiking poles 
  • Sporting bats 
  • Darts 
  • Billiard, snooker or pool cues 

Keep in mind the weight of your bags and that they are in accordance with what you are permitted to check in with your airline.

Sharp and prohibited items

Some items simply aren't allowed on planes at all. These include: 

  • Flammable liquids and solids 
  • Oxidisers such as bleaching powders 
  • Organic peroxides 
  • Tear gas devices or any gas cylinders 
  • Infectious substances such as live virus materials 
  • Wet-cell car batteries 
  • Magnetrons 
  • Instruments containing mercury. However, you can carry thermometers with mercury in hold luggage if they are in a protective case 
  • Instruments containing magnets 
  • Fireworks and explosives 
  • Matches or lighters (except on your person) 
  • Firelighters, lighter fuel, paints or thinners 
  • Poisons, arsenic, cyanide or weedkiller 
  • Radioactive materials, acids, corrosives, alkalis or caustic soda 
  • Creosote, quicklime or oiled paper 
  • Vehicle fuel system parts which have contained fuel 
  • Party poppers
London Gatwick security technology

Our body scanners provide an additional layer of security. They are a completely safe and an extremely capable method of screening passengers. 

The scanning system uses millimetre wave imaging to locate objects on a person that are concealed under clothing. Millimetre wave imaging offers a superior approach for screening people compared to existing methods such as metal detectors.

It works by bouncing millimetre waves off an individual’s skin to produce an outline image of the person’s body, showing any concealed, potentially dangerous objects.

The image is not reviewed by an operator, as the system provides an Automatic Threat Recognition and Detection functionality. The scanner displays an indication of possible threat areas on a `gingerbread man’ image. The security officer uses this information to determine if a physical search is required.

Images taken are analysed digitally within the equipment, so the millimetre wave image of the passenger is never seen, stored, printed or transmitted. The scanner is deliberately programmed so that no image can be retained, printed or transmitted.

Can I opt out of going through the security scanners?

If you do not wish to be screened by a security scanner, you will need to have an enhanced hand search conducted in a private search room. This will involve the removal of outer clothing and the loosening and/or removal of other garments.

Please be aware that this alternative screening method will take significantly longer than going through a security scanner due to additional staff resources that need to be made available.

Guidance for special assistance and transgender passengers
All passengers travelling from an airport must go through security checks and no one is exempt from this. However, we do recognise that our passengers are individuals with different needs and some need to be treated with more sensitivity or additional discretion.

Special assistance

All your questions about security and medication are answered on these pages and here we also cover other topics of particular interest if you or a member of your group has special needs or needs assistance through the airport. Find out more about planning in advance for your trip, our facilities and services and lots of other advice in the special assistance section of our website. We always recommend that you pre-book assistance at the airport at least 72 hours in advance. 

Family and assistance lanes 

If you would like help through security, please go to the special assistance welcome desk in the check-in area. A member of the team will accompany you through the family and assistance security lane. You’re also welcome to use this dedicated security lane to take this part of the journey without assistance. A member of our team will be able to advise you on the best route through security. 

The family and assistance lane has a wider gate for wheelchairs and buggies. Our colleagues working in this area are specially trained to take extra care of passengers who have additional needs. 

Security search 

Security scanners are safe for all our passengers. You have the right to decline this and request a private manual search instead. This will happen in a private area with a witness and you can bring a witness of your own. 

Wheelchairs and other medical equipment that can’t pass through the X-ray will be swabbed by our security team. This is standard procedure for these items and is nothing to worry about. 

Hidden disabilities 

If you or the passengers you are travelling with have a disability that may not be obvious, you can request a hidden disability lanyard from our special assistance desk in the check-in area. Airport colleagues are specially trained to recognise that anyone wearing one of these lanyards may need specific help or consideration. 

Find out more about travelling with a hidden disability

Transgender passengers

We welcome passengers and colleagues regardless of age, ethnicity, colour, religion or gender. All our team and passengers have the right to be treated with dignity and professionalism regardless of the gender they identify with. 

Everyone travelling from the airport needs to follow the same security procedures and processes. 


All passengers must provide proof of identity during check-in. This is usually your passport. The date of birth, gender and name of the passenger on the reservation must match that on your passport or government-issued photographic ID. 

If you have different names and genders on different documents, you may choose which one to use, if it satisfies the airline’s ID requirements and matches the name you used on the airline reservation. It does not matter if your current gender presentation matches that given on your documentation or that of your photograph. 


If you are required to be hand searched at security, you may select the gender of the officer which you feel most comfortable with to perform the search.  

At any point in the process, you may ask for a private search. You will be taken out of view of the travelling public and other airport colleagues to a private area. An officer will conduct a full body search both by hand and with a hand-held metal detector. They will be accompanied by a second officer of the same sex acting as a witness. You may also take a witness with you (of any sex). 

Some items underneath clothing such as prosthetics and binding may show as an anomaly on the scan and be highlighted to the security officer. We understand this may be uncomfortable, but the situation can be managed by explaining to the officer clearly and calmly what the item is.  

Officers should never ask you to remove or raise items of clothing to reveal the item to them, nor should they ask you to remove it in a public place. However, an officer may request a private search if they are not happy with the outcome of the search. 

Wigs and hairpieces are usually not subject to extra checks. If it is significantly large, an officer may use a visual or hand search, or a hand-held metal detector, to check there is nothing concealed within the wig or hairpiece. 

Guidance for specific items
Security is important in air travel. Making sure passengers only bring appropriate items on board is one of our biggest responsibilities. Below you can find specific information on different items to help you understand how much to bring and where to pack them.

Baby milk and products

You can carry all baby food and liquid in your hold luggage with no restrictions. If your child is two or under, some items are allowed in your hand luggage as an exception to our usual hand luggage rules. These include: 

Baby milk and sterilised water

You can carry what you need for your journey, and they can be over 100ml. These will be subject to extra screening by security. Milk that is not designed for the child or water that is not sterilised will not pass through security and will be disposed of. You can get these from our departure lounge after you have been through security. 

Expressed breast milk

Expressed breast milk in individual containers no larger than two litres per container can be taken in unlimited quantities. Frozen milk is not allowed but the milk can be kept cool by cooling gel packs or ice packs. You can carry expressed breast milk even if your child isn’t flying with you. 

Baby food in liquid, gel or paste form

You can carry as many of these as necessary for your trip and they can be over 100ml. They will be subject to extra screening by security. 

If your baby has a medical condition or dietary need meaning they need other liquid forms over 100ml on your journey, you must bring a doctor’s letter or prescription to authenticate this if you are carrying them in your hand luggage. 

You'll need to lift your child out of their pushchair, pram or buggy during X-ray checks. You can take infants’ car seats onto the plane. 

Electrical items

At security checkpoints you may be asked to remove MP3 and CD players, portable DVD players, tablets and laptops from your luggage to be screened separately. Digital cameras and mobile phones can stay in your hand luggage or jacket to be X-rayed. You can also bring gas hair tongs, but you cannot carry spare gas refills in either your hold or hand luggage. 

Portable electronic devices containing Lithium-ion batteries with a Watt-hour rating exceeding 100 Wh, but not exceeding 160 Wh, can be taken in either hand or hold luggage. No more than two spare batteries may be carried in hand luggage only. These batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuits.  

Food and drinks

Drinks are allowed in your hold luggage. You can carry cakes, fruit, vegetables, sandwiches and all solid foods in your hand luggage. The container carrying these foods must not exceed 100ml in size, regardless of the amount inside. Jams, honey and other preserves are also subject to these restrictions. 

Foods in sauces or with a high liquid content (such as sauces, pastes, soups and stews) cannot come through security. 

Drinks that are open or that you are consuming prior to the security checkpoint cannot be carried through and must be fully consumed or discarded. An exception to this rule is milk or sterilised water for babies. 

Remember, once through security you can buy food and drinks in the departure area to take on to the plane. 

Liquids, cosmetics and toiletries

You can carry all cosmetics and toiletries in your hold luggage. You can bring both solid and liquid cosmetics and toiletries in your hand luggage if they follow these rules: 

Cosmetics and toiletries must be in containers marked 100ml or less. 

They must be placed into a transparent, resealable, airtight bag of approx. 20cm x 20cm in size. These bags are supplied at security and are limited to one bag per person. 

The contents must fit completely inside the bag so it can be sealed.  

Some liquids are also measured in grams, such as toothpaste, hair gels and liquid makeup. To airport security, 100ml = 100g and anything considered liquid must be equal to or less than 100ml or 100g. 

The following items are considered liquid and must be placed inside your resealable bag: 

  • Hairspray and other aerosol items 
  • Creams and lotions 
  • Roll-on deodorants 
  • Sun-tanning/sun cream products 
  • Lip gloss 
  • Liquid soap 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Mascara 
  • Contact lens solution 
  • Foam 
  • Nail varnish 
  • Jams/preserves/spreads/syrups/pickles/humous 
  • Ice (or any solids which can melt over short periods of time) 

All liquids must be in containers of 100ml or less. If your container is over 100ml it is not allowed through security with any liquid in at all. However, you may take an empty water bottle through security and refill it at one of our water fountains or restaurants. 

The following are also allowed on board: 

  • Solid deodorants 
  • Lipsticks 
  • Brushes 
  • Combs  
  • Toothbrushes  
  • Disposable contact lenses (in sealed packaging)  
  • Non-disposable lenses with a small amount of solution (less than 100ml container limit applies and must be in your liquid bag) 
  • Razors where the blade is fully and permanently enclosed and razor cartridges are allowed in hand luggage

Medication, medical conditions and equipment 

Carrying medication 

Medicines over 100ml, supported by a doctor's note or prescription, are allowed through security. There’s no limit on powder or pills. All medicines are subject to additional security screening and must be kept in a transparent, re-sealable bag.  

You need a medical certification letter or a named prescription label on the item to carry: 

  • Insulin 
  • Insulin pumps  
  • Epipens 
  • Hypodermic needles 
  • Medicines  
  • Children’s medicine 

Please check with your airline if you have special requirements before travelling. If you have a genuine medical condition (supported by a letter from your GP/hospital or a named prescription label on the item), there should be no problem taking such items on board. 

You may carry medicines that need to be kept cold in a cool bag and include one ice pack in the bag if your doctor's letter states this is necessary. 

Non-prescription medicines for children and adults can be purchased in the departure lounge. 

Advice for medical conditions 

We recommend carrying a signed letter about your condition from your GP or medical practitioner. 

Inhalers are allowed in hand luggage, but you must remove them and place in a clear plastic bag to go through the scanner separately. You must pack spare canisters in your hold luggage. You’ll need prior approval from your airline to carry essential medical equipment unless it fits within your hand luggage. Please clearly mark it as ‘essential medical equipment’. 

Pacemakers and metal implants 

Our security technologies have been assessed by government health regulators as safe for anyone with medical implants. If you have concerns, please speak to a member of our security team. 

If you have a pacemaker or any other medical device that may be affected by walking through an archway metal detector, please tell our security officers before going through security. Make sure you have your medical card to state that you are wearing a sensitive medical device. 

A hip/joint replacement or metal implants are likely to set off metal detectors. If this happens, you will need to be searched by a security guard. There is no need to bring proof of metal implants with you but letting our security guards know may be helpful. 

Medical equipment 

Inhalers are allowed in hand luggage, but you must remove them and place in a clear plastic bag to go through the scanner separately. You must pack spare canisters in your hold luggage

If you have specific medical equipment that can’t be X-rayed, tell our security team. They will be happy to carry out an alternative security check. 

Please carefully pack any equipment that you need to minimise the likelihood of security team incurring puncture wounds. Please let our security team know that your hand luggage contains your equipment when you present it at security control.

Medical device awareness

Passengers with special medical requirements should not be unnecessarily deprived of items which they may need to ensure health or survival during their trip, so passengers should not be asked to remove any medical devices from their person when passing through security. Any passenger that selects not to go through the scanner for medical reasons and can provide evidence of their condition (e.g. a letter from their GP, possession of medication, or devices such as an insulin pump), must as an alternative be subject to a hand search. Where the passenger would prefer privacy, a private search may also be conducted.

To alleviate any potential anxiety and in the interests of good customer service, hand-held metal detectors should not be used around the chest area for pacemakers, the head for cochlear implants, or the abdomen for pregnant females. All medical exceptions which prevent a person from going through the scanners will be subject to shoe removal; however, where a medical condition precludes this, then the CAA have advised that footwear can be screened visually. They have also provided a Medical Device Awareness Card on their website, which can be downloaded and printed prior to traveling. The card also acts as a reminder to our security officers that alternative processes to screening by security scanner and spare devices by x-ray must be undertaken. Note, however, that the card is not intended to act as a document to provide evidence of your medical condition. You can download and print the Medical Device Awareness Card from the CAA website.

Photographic equipment

It is perfectly safe to carry your photographic equipment through security. Our X-ray machines won’t harm your film or camera. The British Photographers' Liaison Committee (BPLC) has fully approved our hand luggage X-ray inspection systems as safe for all normal film types (up to and including ISO 400). They are also safe for digital storage media. 

Specialist film (ISO 800 and above) can sometimes be affected. However, the effects do not become clearly visible until the film is exposed around 32 times. We can make special arrangements for photographers carrying professional film (ISO 800 and above). Please contact us or your airline before travel. 

Smoking materials

Cigarettes and other tobacco products are all allowed in hand luggage. 

You can carry one lighter, a single butane lighter, a Zippo lighter or a box of safety matches onboard the plane but only if kept on your person throughout the flight. You will be asked to leave any additional lighters at the security point. 

Both lighters and e-cigarettes must be included within the liquid allowance and placed inside the one-litre plastic bag for screening. After it has been screened, the lighter or e-cigarette must be removed from the plastic bag and carried on your person. 

Matches and lighters are not allowed in hand or checked-in luggage and e-cigarettes are banned from hold luggage. Smoking is not permitted inside the terminal building.  

We recommend you check with your airline if you are unsure whether you can travel with any of these other, more specific items. 

Hat boxes, sports equipment and wedding dresses all constitute an item of hand luggage. However, these must fit within your airline's size and weight restrictions. 

Drones can be carried in your hand luggage if you meet your airline's size and weight restrictions for hand luggage. You will need to notify the airline that you are carrying the batteries. 

Ashes can be taken in your hand luggage or hold luggage and they must be packed in a sealed outer box or case. To comply with regulations, please carry all necessary documentation, including a Certificate of Death issued by an authority from the country of departure. Notify a security officer that ashes are present so that they're aware.

You can bring musical instruments in addition to your hand luggage allowance. 

Some airlines only allow hoverboards in the hold. 

Biometric ID
At present, London Gatwick does not process any Biometric data in relation to passenger identification through the Common Travel Area as our flight connections service is not currently operating. However this privacy policy will provide information about the biometric processing which takes place when the flight connections are running again. The passenger identification process for boarding a domestic or Common Travel Area* (CTA) flight, uses facial image recognition technology and here we explain what facial recognition is and how it's used at London Gatwick.

What is iris recognition?

Facial image recognition is an automated way of recognising a human face through technology. It uses biometrics to map unique facial features from a live image and compares it to a previously captured image to verify that the two are the same person.

Facial recognition is perfectly safe and works with adults and children and does not always require glasses and hats to be removed.

We use this system to provide irrefutable evidence that passengers boarding a domestic or CTA* flight are the same individuals who entered the airports international departure lounge.

The following data is captured through a combination of a scan of a passengers Boarding Pass and a facial image being taken:

  • Boarding pass details (which includes the passenger name)
  • Passenger photo (taken as identification backup)
  • Facial biometric algorithm results (taken as the primary identification)

On the use of facial recognition at the airport we are acting under a published order of the Home Office (Written Notice – Designating the Immigration Control Area Specifying Conditions and Restrictions to be Observed in a Control Area – Immigration Act 1971 Schedule 2 Paragraph 26(3)), the “Written Notice”.

*Common Travel Area (CTA) countries are the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

How long are biometric data images kept?

Biometric data images will be kept for 48 hours.

Facial image recognition at London Gatwick is not an optional system but further to our obligations pursuant to the Written Notice we operate a “no fly” policy for any passengers who do not go through the facial recognition system in the designated areas.

London Gatwick is concerned with the rights of privacy of all of our customers. We have consulted with the Information Commissioner in relation to use of facial image recognition at the airport and will use all efforts to ensure that your rights as a valued customer are protected.