A bottle of medication has yellow translucent capsules spilling out of it.

Traveling Abroad with Prescription Medication

Traveling is fun, but figuring out what to take can be a hassle. One thing you'll definitely be packing, though, is any medication you may be prescribed. Of course, traveling with medication can become an issue for a variety of reasons. Luckily, we're here to help you sort things out.

Can I take medicine in my carry-on bag?

You can absolutely take medicine in your carry-on. If you're flying, the TSA is going to want to examine it. Fortunately, they do allow you to break the 3.4-oz package rule if you have a medically-required liquid, but you have to tell them about it at the start of the security screening process. They're probably going to give it additional checks, which may include opening the container. You should also let them know if you have medicine that can't be put through an X-ray machine. Again, you need to let them know early on before you start sending your things down the conveyor belt. If you have to bring syringes, it may help the screening process to have a note from your doctor.

What should I carry my medicine in?

Many people have questions about whether they need to carry their medicine in the prescription bottle or if they can use a smaller pill case. The TSA doesn't require you to carry your medicine in prescription bottles, but different states have laws about how various medication is labeled when you transport it. If you're going through customs, you'll want to be especially carefully to bring your medicines in their original, labeled bottles. It's also worth remembering that the pharmacy can pour your liquid medicines into smaller bottles at your request.

What else should I think about?

Make sure you bring enough dosage to last your entire trip, including a little extra in case something happens and you get delayed. You should probably also make a secondary plan of action in case you run out of medication while you're abroad. Bringing a list of the generic names for any medication you might be taking is a smart idea. You may also want to bring a prescription hand-written by a doctor. Not only is this further documentation that you're not traveling with anything you're not supposed to have, it can also expedite the process if you need to see a doctor while you're away from home. Bear in mind that not every prescription drug in the U.S. is legal elsewhere. For instance, even if your pseudoephedrine was prescribed to you, there are some countries that won't let you bring it across their borders.

Another thing to think about—if you take medication that has very specific dosing requirements, make note of how many time zones you're crossing, if any. Also, be sure to factor that into your dosing schedule. You don't want to take too much or go too long between doses because you forgot to reset your watch. When you're dealing with necessary medicines and travel, it never hurts to think through things as clearly as possible and err on the side of caution.

Last Updated: September 06, 2016