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Flying with Medication

Traveling with medicines takes some extra planning. This is especially true if you travel by plane. Medications may need additional screening in airport security. However, passengers should be able to bring all prescribed medicines and medical supplies onto the airplane.

To make travel easier, review travel guidelines for medications ahead of time. Arrive to the airport early. Have written documentation from your doctor about the medical condition and needed medicines.

When traveling on long flights, be aware of time zones. You might need to adjust your medication schedule. Also, plan for meals if medicines need to be taken with food.

Air Travel Checklist for Travelers with Medical Needs:

  • Have all medicines and supplies.
  • Know medicine guidelines and laws for the places you will visit.
  • Carry written documentation and prescription information.
  • Pack and store each medicine properly.
  • Plan for airport security.
  • Arrive early.
  • Let airline workers and security agents know about health needs, medical devices, and medications.
  • Make sure that you have extra medicine in a carry-on bag in case luggage gets lost.
 

What Medicines Can I Bring on the Plane in My Carry-On Bag?

  • All prescription medicines are allowed on airplanes, whether in a carry-on or checked bag.
  • There is no limit to the amount of medications in pill or solid form that you can bring.
  • Liquid medicines are also allowed. Normally, liquids in a carry-on bag have to be 3.4 ounces or less per item. Medicines do not have to follow this rule.
  • Medical equipment such as IV pumps, bags, and syringes are also allowed.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) limits the amount of liquids you can bring onto a flight in your carry-on luggage to 3.4 ounces (100 mL). Some medical items do not have to follow this rule.

Medical liquids allowed in a carry-on bag include:

  • Liquid medications
  • Medications in aerosol form (inhalers)
  • Gels, ointments, creams, or pastes
  • Medical accessories such as IV bags, ice packs, or gel packs
 

How Should I Pack Medicines?

  • Medications are allowed on a flight in either a carry-on or checked bag. It is usually best to pack medicines in a carry-on bag.
    • Checked luggage can be delayed or lost and may not arrive at your final destination.
    • Checked luggage can be exposed to temperature changes and moisture that could affect your medications.
    • Packing medications in a carry-on bag lets you have immediate access.
  • Medications can be packed in a pill box. However, it is usually best to keep medicines in labeled containers provided by your pharmacist.
    • TSA does not require medications to be in their original, labeled, prescription containers. However, using the original containers may limit delays or additional questioning. This is especially important if you have pain medications or other controlled substances.
    • Individual states may also have laws regarding labeling of prescription medications. Contact a local pharmacy in the state you are traveling to if you have questions.
  • Refrigerated medications may be packed using freezer packs, insulated lunch boxes, or coolers within carry-on luggage.
  • Used syringes should be placed in a hard-surface container.

How Do I Go Through Airport Security with Medicines?

  • Arrive early to allow time for additional screening at the security checkpoint.
  • Bring a medication list and note from your doctor. This can speed up the screening process and help answer questions.
  • Tell the security agent that you have medically necessary medications. Otherwise, you may be asked to throw out items that are over the limit for liquids allowed.
  • Liquid medications do not have to be placed in a clear plastic bag.
  • Label all medications and supplies. This can help speed up security screening.
  • Keep medical items separate from the rest of your luggage when you go through the checkpoint. Use separate bins for personal items. Keep medicines and supplies such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes together for inspection.
  • Liquid medications will need to be X-ray screened. The container may be visibly opened, and a sample may be taken and transferred into another container and inspected by a TSA agent.
  • If you do not want your medications to be X-rayed or opened, additional screening methods may be used.

What Do I Need to Know About International Travel with Medicines?

  • A valid prescription or doctor’s note is required for all medications entering the United States.
  • Each country has their own laws relating to medications and controlled substances. Medicines that are legal in one country may be illegal in another. Check regulations for each place you will visit, including customs and border checkpoints. Contact the foreign embassy to learn more about specific national laws.
  • Find out how much medicine you are allowed to bring into the country at a time. There might be a limit such as 30-day supply or 90-day supply.
  • Keep medicines in their original containers with a prescription label. If medicines are not in their original containers, carry a copy of your medication list or letter from your doctor.

TSA Passenger Support

Call the TSA Cares helpline: 1-855-787-2227.

Contact TSA passenger support for help with the security screening process for persons with disabilities and medical conditions.

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support

 

Find More Information on Traveling with Medicines


Reviewed: January 2020