A Life in Travel

2 minutes reading time (376 words)

Do you need to keep prescriptions in their original bottle when you travel?


Travelers often ask us if it's necessary to retain all prescription medications in their original containers when traveling. While that's always the best course of action, sometimes containers are too bulky and it becomes impractical when your packing space is limited (especially because you should carry medications in your carry-on bag). In general, there is no problem or special protocol for carrying a normal amount of prescription drugs and vitamins for personal use when traveling abroad, either through TSA or upon entry to virtually any country. We often carry a medical kit with some prescription pain meds, nausea relief, and antibiotics, and those should remain in their original containers with labels. Even so, we have never been stopped or questioned by officials about pills we are carrying, let alone asked to show the original prescriptions anywhere, anytime in our travels. Some of us carry a cocktail of various travel remedies such as immune booster mushroom capsules, probiotics and vitamins in a daily pill dispenser that has also never been questioned.

In general, you shouldn't have to worry about transferring medications from their original containers for normal quantities of non-narcotic personal prescription medications. Prescription pain relievers, narcotics, liquid prescriptions or controlled substances should remain in their containers and only small amounts carried for personal use. Of course, the general recommendations to carry prescription medications in their original containers are for your ultimate guarantee if ever stopped and questioned on a random custom officer's whim.

The rule to keep drugs in their original containers is generally more applicable for travelers carrying large amounts of pills such as those moving abroad or traveling for an extensive time, especially when carrying narcotic pain relievers. In some countries more than others, like Japan or Egypt for example, an official letter from your doctor is recommended specifying that the medications you are carrying are for your personal use only and what the quantity is you will be carrying. If you are concerned, ask your doctor for a letter, or ask your pharmacist to transfer some of your prescription meds to smaller labeled containers. Another solution if you transfer pills from their labeled containers is to take a picture of the prescription label to carry with you.

Keeping it wild,  

Kurt Kutay

Read more of my travel blogs

Why It’s Never Been Better To Travel To Cuba
Rwanda Review: "Gorilla trekking was fascinating!"

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