Visitor Safety and Policies

Capitol visitor policies are designed to keep visitors and staff safe and secure and to preserve the collections, facilities, and historic building and grounds for generations to come.

You will be visiting the Capitol during a heightened period of awareness of security and safety. This concern is not simply for the security of Members of Congress, but for the safety and security of everyone who visits here.

Prohibited Items

 Before entering the Capitol Visitor Center, all visitors are screened by a magnetometer and all items that are permitted inside the building are screened by an x-ray device. The following items are strictly prohibited:

ItemAll Capitol Visitors
Capitol, including Capitol Visitor CenterHouse / Senate Galleries
Aerosol ContainersProhibitedProhibited
Any battery-operated electronic deviceAllowedProhibited*
Medical devices are permitted.
Any pointed object (knitting needles, letter openers, etc.)ProhibitedProhibited
Pens and pencils are permitted
Any bag larger than 14" wide x 13" high x 4" deepProhibitedProhibited
(both in and out of session)
Cans and bottles, full or emptyProhibitedProhibited
Creams, lotions, or perfumesAllowedProhibited*
(both in and out of session)
Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devicesProhibitedProhibited
Food or beverages of any kindProhibitedProhibited
Guns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworksProhibitedProhibited
Knives of any sizeProhibitedProhibited
Mace and pepper sprayProhibitedProhibited
Non-aerosol sprayProhibitedProhibited
Prescriptions for medical needs are permitted.
Razors and box cuttersProhibitedProhibited
Video recorders or any type of recording deviceAllowedProhibited*
* indicates items that may be checked at the House and Senate Gallery Staging Areas.

Please note that the U.S. Capitol Police are authorized to make exceptions if a prohibited item is determined to be necessary and required to serve child care, medical or other special needs. Items allowed in the Capitol but prohibited in the House and Senate Galleries may be checked at the House and Senate Gallery Staging Areas.

Also, note that smoking is not permitted anywhere in the Capitol, and food and drink are only allowed in the Capitol Visitor Center Restaurant.

Emergency Evacuation Information

Guidance SymbolIn the event of an emergency, please follow the guidance of U.S.Capitol Police officers. To report an emergency or suspicious activity, please inform the nearest U.S. Capitol Police Officer.  Detailed emergency evacuation information is available here.