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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director


Lots of us carry our medicines with us when we cross borders. Here’s some information on how to do it safely and legally. To avoid medicine-related issues during your journey, follow these tips.

Know What’s Legal

Each country has its own guidelines about which medicines are allowed. Medicines that are commonly prescribed or available over the counter in the United States could be considered unlicensed or controlled substances in other countries. For example, in Japan, some inhalers and certain allergy and sinus medications are illegal. The United Arab Emirates has strict narcotics laws that have landed travelers in prison. Having as little as three grams of morphine in Singapore is sufficient for a death sentence. This is serious stuff, so check with the  foreign embassy of the country you will be visiting or passing through to make sure your medicines are permitted in that country.

Put Meds in Your Carry-On

You don’t want to be stuck without your meds if your suitcase gets lost, so take them on board. Be sure to check the Transportation Security Administration website for updates on permitted and prohibited items, including medicines that you are allowed to carry onto an airplane.

Buy Them at Home

Don’t plan on being able to purchase your medicines at your destination. They may not be available, and if they are, they may not meet U.S. quality standards. In many developing countries, counterfeit drugs are also a big problem.

Keep all Medications in Original Bottles.

As tempting as it is to remove pills from those space-wasting blister packs, you need to keep all medicines in their original, labeled containers. Even vitamins and supplements. Ensure that prescription meds are clearly labeled with your full passport name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. And bring enough medicine to last your whole trip, plus a little extra in case of delays.

Manage the Temperature

Extreme temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of many medicines. So when flying, bring your meds on board to protect them from the cold temperatures of the baggage hold. Airport security allows people with diabetes to travel with gel packs to keep insulin cool.

Get Liquids Through Security

Liquid medication greater than 3.4 ounces is allowed in carry-on baggage. Just let the TSA officer know at the start of your screening process. Keep in mind, medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening.

It’s not always simple, but by following these guidelines, you and your meds can travel the world in perfect harmony.

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