Does FedEx Scan Packages? (Alcohol, Substances, Cash + Other FAQs)

Most people don’t think twice when shipping through FedEx. They assemble their parcel, seal it, attach the shipping label, and put it in the mail. But your package goes through many more steps between the time it’s dropped off and received.

For example, some packages may undergo additional security checks, including getting scanned or searched. I’ll tell you about how FedEx handles package security in this article, so be sure to keep reading.

Does FedEx Scan Packages In 2024?

FedEx’s terms and conditions allow the company to scan and search any packages sent through its network as of 2024. However, only a minority of packages (usually those sent via plane) are scanned regularly. Instead, the company adopts a risk-based approach to scanning packages. Heavily taped, vacuum-sealed, or highly insured packages may raise a red flag for screening.

If you want to know whether or not your package will get scanned by FedEx, then check out the rest of this article!

Which Items Are You Prohibited From Sending Via FedEx?

Before getting into the question of whether or not FedEx scans packages, it’s helpful to know why a package may get scanned in the first place.

Usually, scans and searches occur because FedEx suspects that a package contains prohibited items.

That said, some prohibited items include:

  • Any Schedule I drugs as designated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (e.g., heroin, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine)
  • Drug paraphernalia (e.g., pipes, bowls, needles)
  • Some prescription drugs

In addition, individual shippers may not ship alcohol, including wine, beer, liquor, or champagne.

Further, shipping any amount of money (e.g., coins, paper money, endorsed stocks, and cash letters) through FedEx is not illegal but discouraged.

Does FedEx Scan Packages For Contents?

FedEx tries to spot suspicious packages for follow-up screenings, but not all packages are X-rayed.

With that, sending every package through a CT scanner or X-ray machine would be too expensive and time-consuming, so FedEx adopts a risk-based approach to scanning packages.

Moreover, packages most likely to get scanned are those that look suspicious or those placed on passenger airplanes.

Can FedEx Search Your Package?

Legally speaking, FedEx is allowed to search any packages that pass through its delivery network.

When using FedEx, shippers must agree to FedEx’s terms and conditions, and part of these terms and conditions gives the company the right to open and inspect packages.

In some cases, FedEx employees may contact local law enforcement to alert them of a suspicious package and advise how to handle the situation.

Still, not much more is known about FedEx’s security measures because the company claims that discussing specifics would compromise security.

How Does FedEx Choose Which Packages To Scan?

How Does FedEx Choose Which Packages To Scan?

FedEx cannot scan every single package going through their network from a purely financial and time perspective. Therefore, the company must select which packages to scan.

That said, there aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules about which packages are scanned and which aren’t, but there are some general guidelines.

From a visual perspective, FedEx employees might look for heavily taped or vacuum-sealed packages or those that use insulated bags and foam insulation.

Beyond this, it’s known that the most stringent screening procedures apply to packages carried on passenger airplanes, which makes sense, given the potential risk to human life.

So, it’s fair to say that most (if not all) packages going on passenger airplanes are scanned.

Also, FedEx has its own fleet of planes where all packages must be physically inspected, and these items are probably X-rayed.

Still, the company isn’t required to use X-ray, explosive-trace detection, or canine screening, so the procedures are more relaxed than for items bound for commercial flights. 

When it comes to truck shipments, employees are trained to look for suspicious behavior, including any package that looks odd or a shipper who buys too much insurance for the item’s declared value.

Aside from that, FedEx refuses to say whether it screens ground-shipping packages at drop-off points or distribution centers for security reasons.

What Happens If FedEx Finds Prohibited Items In A Package?

If FedEx opens your package and finds prohibited items, a few things could happen, depending on the items.

For example, if a large sum of cash is found, law enforcement may seize the cash for civil asset forfeiture proceedings.

When this happens, the tracking notes will eventually say “Delivered.”

Still, the notes might say “Signed for by: POLICESEIZED or “SEIZEDBYLEO,” meaning a law enforcement officer or agency took possession of the package.

If you contact FedEx regarding the situation, the company may give you a number for the agency that seized the package or the case agent.

From there, it’s up to the agency’s discretion to decide what happens next.

If law enforcement finds a package containing drugs, they might attempt a controlled delivery.

In a controlled delivery, FedEx will deliver the package, and law enforcement will track anyone who comes in contact with it to make an arrest.\

To know more, you can also read our posts on whether or not FedEx notarizes, if FedEx prints labels, and if FedEx delivers to PO boxes.


In more cases than not, FedEx does not scan packages going through their delivery system.

Already, the process is time-consuming and expensive, so FedEx has little incentive to add more hurdles to its workflow.

Still, scans and searches happen occasionally, so it’s best to follow the rules to avoid any trouble.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of

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