Traveling With Medicine
Traveling with medicine has more do’s and don’ts than you realize. What can you do with prescribed medicine when you travel? What can’t you do? US and foreign customs regulations can be just as surprisingly strict for simple over-the-counter medication as they are for controlled substances. TSA checkpoints require specific procedures before you can board a plane.
Do’s And Don’ts For TSA
You can take simple measures to ensure the screening process is as quick as possible. There are also some surprising measures that TSA can use to ensure the plane’s safety.
Liquid medication may be subject to inspection. That may include X-ray procedures. You may refuse the X-rays, but that will lead to other examinations. You might be required to pour your liquid medicine from its original container into another. Sometimes, TSA will take a small amount of the liquid for testing.
Be Honest And Cooperative
Always declare any medication to TSA agents. Fill out a TSA Disability Notification Card to explain why you need the drug, and you can attach it to a short note from your doctor explaining your condition and treatment.
The 3-1-1 Rule
TSA rules permit liquids in a carry-on bag if they are less than 3.4 oz. (100ml) and are packed in one one-quart transparent bag. Liquid medications are not subject to this rule.
Traveling Across International Borders
TSA is nowhere near what you could encounter at international borders. Don’t have a casual, laid-back attitude about it. For instance, several inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications are illegal in Japan. Furthermore, more than one traveler has been imprisoned because of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) strict narcotics laws.
One source of information you can use is the International Narcotics Control Board. They can provide information about controlled substances in the country of your destination. However, they are not necessarily a complete or up-to-date authority.
An additional source of information is the foreign embassy of the country you plan to visit. Call in advance of leaving in case you may need to visit your doctor to get a prescription for an alternative medication.
General Rules You Can Use To Be Safe Rather Than Sorry
- Consider how long your trip will be last and pack enough medication for your entire stay. Pack more than you’ll need, just in case you face delays and the unexpected. Since some insurance companies only allow for 30 days of medication, you may need to consult your healthcare management service to determine how you can get a larger supply if you intend to be gone over a month. Do not count on purchasing your medication in a foreign country.
- Make sure all containers are original and correctly labeled with the same name as the one on your passport, your doctor’s name, the brand name and generic for the drug, and the exact dosage as it is prescribed.
- Get copies of the prescriptions. You know the old adage, “Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.”
- Just in case you lose your copy of the prescriptions, leave one back at home with a friend or relative. They can also use it if you need them to send you an emergency refill.
Have your doctor use stationery with his letterhead and write out an explanation of why you are being treated with a controlled substance, such as marijuana or injectable medications. It would be a good idea to have that explanation translated into a language understood at your destination.