Does Amtrak Search Carry-On Bags?

Traveling by train is definitely one alternative way to travel and taking the Amtrak is one option you can take to get around the continental U.S. First-time travelers on the Amtrak wonder if they have similar bag inspection procedures, like the TSA, and fortunately, we have the answer to this question.

Amtrak does not have bag inspections that are as strict as the TSA. However, they might do random searches on some passengers if they are working with different agencies that request them. However, passengers have the right to refuse this search at all times.

We know that Amtrak security is very different from the TSA, leaving a lot of new travelers quite unsure about the process. Keep reading, because in this post, we will be sharing Amtrak's baggage rules and other information you will need when riding the train.

Passengers are waiting to present their tickets for boarding the amtrak train, Does Amtrak Search Carry-On Bags?

Does Amtrak Search Carry-On Bags?

Riding the train definitely has a certain charm to it, especially for those who prefer flying to get to their destinations. In the continental U.S., one of the major railways you can take for train travel is the Amtrak. They have more than 30 routes that can get you to different destinations in 46 states.

Carry on bags on over head train compartment

Traveling via Amtrak routes is a completely different story from traveling via plane. Aside from the differing transit time, Amtrak also has a different baggage system in place for travelers' belongings. The process is very different and quite new if you've never been on Amtrak.

For one, Amtrak does not employ a TSA-like method of baggage inspection. There will be no officers that will check your bags upon entry to the station, unlike the TSA checks you get when you get to the airport. You can freely bring your carry-on bags with you with no restrictions on the items in them.

However, Amtrak does have their own police force and they sometimes work with different agencies for different situations. On occasions such as these, some agency agents may ask to do search passengers' belongings. If this happens, passengers have the right to refuse consent for the search to happen.

Amtrak has a less strict procedure when it comes to luggage security. Sometimes, their police force might come over and have a drug or bomb K-9 sniff over your bags. As long as you don't have anything illegal or suspicious that the K-9s can sniff out, they will not search your carry-ons.

Does Amtrak Have Carry-On Restrictions?

Amtrak pacific surfliner commuter

Amtrak does not have carry-on restrictions unlike an airline would have. Since there is no security inspection similar to the TSA, it would be safe to say that you can bring more items in your carry-on as long as it is not prohibited.

The only restrictions Amtrak employs with carry-ons is the number of carry-on bags and personal items you can carry. They also employ a weight restriction on the carry-on bags you will be bringing with you onboard the train.

Each passenger riding the Amtrak can take two personal items with them sized at 14" x 11" x 7" and should not be heavier than 25 lbs. These include your purses, totes, and other similar bags. Fortunately, items like blankets, pillows, and medical devices are not part of the two-bag limit.

For carry-on luggage, Amtrak allows all passengers to bring two carry-on bags with a maximum size of 28" x 22" x 14". On their Pacific Surfliner, the allowable bags are a little smaller at 28" x 22" x 11". Carry-on bags must not exceed the 50 lb limit.

If agents find that your bags are overweight the 50 lb limit, you must repack them so they stay within the allowable weight limit. You can purchase boxes in the stations in case you cannot get rid of the items in your bags and they can help you repack.

Excess carry-on bags are subject to a $20 fee for every excess bag that you have. Each passenger can only have two excess carry-on bags on them. Just like the plane, you can only keep and store your personal items and carry-on bags in overhead racks, under the seats, or in the baggage area.

What Items Are Prohibited On The Train?

As a general rule, anything that is hazardous and dangerous is automatically restricted on any transportation. However, there are cases where in you can bring these items with you, as long as policies and directives are followed properly.

Amtrak has a shorter list of items they prohibit on the train. For a more comprehensive list of items, please check their official website. We will be listing the most common items that passengers bring when they travel.

Can I bring these on the train?


Woman is transporting a cat in a special plastic cage or carrying bag

People who need service animals with them can bring them onboard with restrictions. You can also bring your pet cat or dog with you on select trains as long as you get them their own ticket. If you will be traveling with an animal, make sure that you also pack all their necessary items with you.

Fragile and Valuable Items

You can bring your fragile and valuable items with you onboard the train, like money, electronic gadgets, and jewelry. However, Amtrak will not be liable if anything happens to these items so make sure that you keep them safe with you at all times.


Unfortunately, you can't bring that pie Aunt May baked last night, or the fish Uncle Stu caught earlier that day. No perishables can be brought onboard or even in the checked luggage on the Amtrak. However, you can bring small amounts of food or drink to eat on the ride so maybe you can bring a slice or two.

Sharp Objects

Since these objects are subject to possibly harming other passengers and staff, sharp objects like knives, axes, spears, or swords are not allowed. You can, however, bring your nail clippers, tweezers, corkscrews, and razors with you in your carry-on bag.


Pistols, knives, magazines for bullets lie on the table

All kinds of weapons can be dangerous and may risk the safety of everyone on the train. All passengers cannot bring any type of weapon on the Amtrak, like billy clubs, nightsticks, or other similar items. Firearms and ammunition, however, can be checked-in but you should follow strict policy restrictions on these items.

Does Amtrak Allow Checked Baggage?

Baggage handlers load passengers' luggage aboard an amtrak California train

Of course, just like the airlines, Amtrak also offers their passengers the option to check their baggage. However, not all trains and locations can accept checked baggage, so make sure to check with Amtrak beforehand to ensure that you won't have problems when you travel.

For trains that do allow checked bags, all passengers can check two bags for free. The checked bags should have a maximum size of 75 linear inches and must not be heavier than 50 lbs. If you need to bring more luggage or they are overweight, passengers are subject to an extra $20 fee for each item.

All bags that will be checked must have a tag on them at all times. If you do not have an identification tag for your bag, you will find free tags at the station. The baggage for checking must also be suitable for railway handling.

Since there is a possibility of your baggage can have exposure to weather elements during loading and unloading, it's important to use the right luggage. Amtrak will not allow plastic containers, fabric zipper bags, trash bags, or containers that cannot contain their items for checking.

Final Thoughts

Riding the train can be a completely different experience for everyone. You'll get to see more views of different places, and you can definitely bring more luggage with you in the process. You also don't have to worry so much about carry-on restrictions, so just enjoy that train ride as you travel to your destination.