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.
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 in the Capitol, including the Capitol Visitor Center:
- Liquid, including water
- Food or beverages of any kind, including fruit and unopened packaged food
- Aerosol containers
- Non-aerosol spray (Prescriptions for medical needs are permitted.)
- Any pointed object, e.g. knitting needles and letter openers (Pens and pencils are permitted.)
- Any bag larger than 18" wide x 14" high x 8.5" deep
- Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices
- Guns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworks
- Knives of any size
- Mace and pepper spray
- Razors and box cutters
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. If you have questions, please call the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services at 202.224.4048.
The following items are not allowed in the Senate and House Galleries:
- Battery-operated electronic devices (medical devices are permitted)
- Cans and bottles
- Creams, lotions or perfume
- Packages, briefcases, backpacks or suitcases
- Video recorders or any type of recording device
Each Gallery operates a checkstand where visitors may store these items securely while they are visiting that Gallery.
Also, note that smoking is not permitted anywhere in the Capitol, and food and drink are only allowed in the Capitol Visitor Center Restaurant.
In 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.