Airport X-Ray Security, US Mail Sterilization and Motion Picture Film

This document contains advice for motion picture customers who need to transport film by air or via the US Postal Service.


Security precautions at US airports have been significantly tightened following the tragic events of September 11th. Among precautions that travelers can expect will be the increased use of new, high-intensity x-ray scanners for checked baggage and hand-carried baggage. Passengers should be aware that these high-intensity x-ray machines will fog and ruin all unprocessed film of any speed, whether exposed or not. Kodak recommends that air travelers do not carry unexposed or unprocessed motion picture film. If it is unavoidable that film is carried, passengers should contact the airport in advance to request hand-inspection, allow additional check-in time for such procedures, and follow the advice given below.


Any checked baggage may be subject to high-intensity x-ray scanning in a machine that is out of sight of travelers. Airline check-in agents rarely, if ever, warn travelers of this. Kodak is pressing for warning notices to be posted at check-in desks and for verbal warnings to be given to travelers. Never pack unprocessed film in baggage that will be checked.


Carry-on baggage inspection conveyors using low intensity x-rays, used at security checkpoints in US airports, usually do not affect film. However, these machines may now be supplemented in some cases by high intensity machines that will fog all unprocessed film. Travelers should be wary of all scanners at foreign airports.

Travelers should politely insist on hand-inspection of their film. Carry a changing bag for use by the inspector. Demonstrate how it is used, with a can of fogged film as an example. However, there is no guarantee that your request will be granted by local inspectors, who may insist on x-ray inspection. Hand inspection may not be permitted in some airports outside the US.


We understand that express air package shipping services such as FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. that use their own aircraft, do not employ x-ray scanning of customers' packages on domestic routes. However, this should be verified with the carrier when sending film. The same carriers may employ passenger airlines for international routes. Goods shipped as freight on passenger airlines are subject to high-intensity x-ray scanning. It is recommended that film shipped as unaccompanied freight is labeled "DO NOT X-RAY. IF X-RAY IS MANDATORY, DO NOT SHIP / DO NOT X-RAY / CONTACT SENDER URGENTLY: (sender's contact information)".


To minimize the risks of shipping by air, Kodak recommends that motion picture film should be purchased locally through the nearest Kodak sales office. After exposure, the film should be processed at a local motion-picture laboratory. After processing, the film may be safely transported by air.


The United States Postal Service is installing new equipment to sterilize items sent through the mail. For security reasons, they are not disclosing whether this process will be limited to letters, or if parcels and other packages will also be included.

Until further tests are conducted, it would be wise to assume that the high energy beams used in the sterilization equipment will fog or damage all film - processed or unprocessed, exposed or unexposed, negative or print. In addition, photographic prints, slides, DVDs, picture CDs, CD-ROMs, video tapes and even the CCD sensors in video cameras and other products may be affected. Because those materials often contain valuable - and sometimes, irreplaceable, images - Kodak recommends that you err on the side of caution until more information is available.

All imaging materials should be sent via a courier or an express air shipping company that does not use the US postal system. Local laboratories may have additional information and/or offer alternative shipping arrangements.


Motion-picture film and other photographic products manufactured by Eastman Kodak Company are distributed by means that avoid any risk of damage by x-rays, high-energy electron beams or any other harmful radiations.

Kodak is working closely with industry organizations, the FAA and the US Postal Service to minimize the impact of necessary new security procedures on the shipping of its products. As new information becomes available it will be published and placed here.

Eastman Kodak Company
November 2013.