Traveling in the UK and Europe with a knife


January 28, 2013, 11:59 AM
In two weeks, I will be traveling in and through the UK, and to points in continental Europe. I would like to carry a knife. I own a knife manufactured to conform to the legal restrictions in the UK. It is my understanding, however, that carrying a knife for purposes of self-defense, even if it otherwise satisfies all technical legal requirements, is a crime. I anticipate being questioned by customs as to why I wish to carry a knife while visiting Old Blighty.

Any suggestions as to an answer?

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January 28, 2013, 12:04 PM
buy one after you get there


January 28, 2013, 12:14 PM
You'll need a 2x4 with a nail in the end. or a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. Yea- I'd buy a knife after arrival. See if you can find one with a Union Jack on the side thats made in China( not to buy, I'm just curious).

January 28, 2013, 11:22 PM
It is best if one of our U.K. members answer you or you could hop over to and ask there.

Texan Scott
January 28, 2013, 11:53 PM
Get a Gerber or Leatherman. Only once did I ever fear that a cop inspecting my knives might confiscate one... it was an old Leatherman Sideclip. He was drooling on it. "Must come a bit handy, that! Pliers! Oh, and the rulers does metrics, too!"

Never met a pcso that would find a small knife "offensive" if they don't find the owner so.

Odd Job
January 29, 2013, 09:10 AM
I anticipate being questioned by customs as to why I wish to carry a knife while visiting Old Blighty.

The better option as someone else advised is to buy the knife here and keep the receipt with you. Having said that, I have traveled to the UK with large fixed blade knives in my checked baggage and there is no problem. Wouldn't be able to carry them out in the open though.

A few things:

1) You are better off getting a multi-tool or Swiss Army knife. You see, the scissors and tweezers etc come in very handy for getting at irritating nose hairs and removing splinters, of course ;)

2) Best make sure the main blade isn't more than 3" long

3) Best make sure the blade cannot lock open

In other words it will be a poor option for self defense but probably better than nothing.

Depending on where you are going and what you are doing, you may be well-served by a stout walking stick or in some cases even an umbrella. It doesn't look out of place and you can keep someone off you much easier than if you have a 3" folding knife.

For a holiday flat or hotel, a bat and ball near the door is good (pick your sport, baseball or cricket) ;)
For the car a large Maglite or similar torch is always handy. Also, there is no reason why certain tools such as jack handles and wheel spanners have to stay in the boot/trunk. They can live under your front seat quite happily.

January 29, 2013, 02:55 PM
You already seem to know the laws of the land. Bring a knife that won't get you in trouble.

Carry a flashlight, cane or umbrella for beating on people if necessary.

Even if you use a "legal" knife to defend yourself in the UK, be aware that you still may get into a lot of trouble.

January 29, 2013, 05:58 PM
Hi ArmsAkimber

I live in the UK so I thought I'd offer my 2 pence worth....

If you are thinking in defensive terms then, as others have said, a Maglite, walking stick etc. would be a much better option. You are unlikely to need to use it though.

There is no reason why you shouldn't carry a knife with you. Stick with a Swiss Army style and as long as you're not brandishing it about there should be no problems. The law permits a non-locking folder with < 3" blade without having to justify it. Larger folders or fixed blades may only be carried with good reason e.g. work related, while camping etc. While I think it's very unlikely that it would be an issue be aware that most Leatherman type tools with locking blades would technically be illegal. I've carried a SAK for all my adult life and never had a problem.

Customs shouldn't be a problem either - last time I travelled to the States I brought back a Buck 110 and wasn't stopped so a SAK won't raise too many eyebrows.

I hope you enjoy your trip - hopefully you'll get to see some of the UK outside of London. There are some wonderful places to visit.

If there's anything I can help with feel free to get in touch. Oh - and don't forget to try as many of our beers as you can! :D



January 30, 2013, 05:02 AM

Checked in the luggage of course.

For germany: one-handed and assisted openers are
illegal to carry.

A folder under 12centimeters is fine.

DaveP (UK)
January 30, 2013, 06:45 PM
Opinel? Not in the UK, Sunshine!
Well not the familiar version at any rate - that rotating collar makes it a lock knife and subject to all the restrictions. I think I remember reading that they were bringing out a UK Legal Carry version, but I dont know if it happened yet.
Have a look at this page for examples of what you might be allowed to have about your person, although any slip joint with blade less than 3" should be ok
I imagine you would be able to get some of these near to home. If so, dont try to carry it onto the plane - it must go in hold baggage. (I know you probably know that, but just in case...)
Our law can catch people out. A few years ago there was a stir when a man was arrested in London when a scanner picked up a weapon in his baggage.
He was a senior army officer serving as a military attache to one of our embassies. The weapon was a 2" paper knife included in one of those credit card toolkits. Two inches overall - but it was a fixed blade...
A good reason for carrying a knife could be to open plastic food packaging. As for self defence - Dont. Not with a knife. It would be an issue. Keep your cards and valuables somewhere safe and only carry petty cash on the street. If mugged, hand it over. It'll be cheaper than paying for lawyers.
Having said that, Its not as bad as it might appear. Theres a good chance you wont be bothered, especially if you use a bit of common sense about where you go :) Enjoy your visit!

January 30, 2013, 07:54 PM
I carried a very boring and innocent Victorinox Explorer Plus while visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland with my wife and in-laws back in '09. Four layers thick to make it extra tool-like and had all the creature comforts of scissors and an inline Philips driver.

I also carried a Maglite, excuse me, torch;) in the car while we drove along. It was mostly stated to be used for nighttime road side repairs...but I guess it could have been used to ladle a bad guy;)

Never had an issue the whole week I was there. Lovely country. Lovely people. Going back is on my bucket list for sure.

January 31, 2013, 01:57 AM
For Germany: small correction... folders that lock AND can be opened one handed can't be carried without a reason (self defense does not count).

No length limit on folders that don't lock or can't be opened with one hand.

Butterfly (Balisong) knives and out-the-front autos are actually banned. Some side autos are legal, but you can't carry them.

Fixed blades can't be longer than 12 cm for legal carry, and two bladed daggers plus all kinds of "combat" knives can't be carried as well.

In other words... SAK = no trouble at all.

Spec ops Grunt
January 31, 2013, 07:18 PM
get a swiss army knife with a corkscrew and you are set.

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