medications in carry-on bag

I'll be flying to Italy from Cincinnati OH to Paris then to Venice. I'll be in Italy 17 days. I would like to package my prescription medications and vitamins in small plastic bags and take them in carry-on luggage. To save room I don't want to take prescription or vitamin bottles. The meds are not controlled substances. My meds are in pill/capsule form and some are creams in tubes. Will customs and airport security checks be a problem? I must take the prescription meds everyday. Thank You.

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
646 posts

I use snack bags for each drug and ask for an extra gummy label or if from Target use the one they provide with the receipt. Then I attach the label to the snack bag. I've never had a problem, and if anyone asked it looks just like a prescription bottle, but in a bag. Then I have a small daily medication box for the week and I fill up each week I am gone. I use those little snack bags for so many things when I travel.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12670 posts

When we are headed out for a month or more, we put everything in plastic bags and have never been questions on leaving the US. There is no customs on exiting the US only the TSA. No one looks at anything going into Europe since customs is a quick walk through with a wave. I do carry the prescription labels just in case a problem develops in Europe and I might need a refill.

Posted by Lesley
Sidney, BC, Canada
435 posts

Never had any problems with taking meds and vitamins through customs or security in Europe - only place they were questioned was going into Australia...and as soon as they saw the label that was fine.However, the cremes do have to meet the security regs. concerning size (for security not customs) so labelling is important then. Prescription meds should always be carried in carry-on baggage regardless of packaging.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3036 posts

TSA does NOT require that meds be in original bottle or label. Personally, I've never had a problem taking meds into other countries for my personal use (and we've had more than 40 international trips)
It is the INFORMATION that is important- more in case you have a medical emergency, or need a refill (lost meds, trip extended...)You should have the brand name of the medication (ambien, etc.)and the generic name, and if no generic, a "chemical" name as brand names are not always the same. There are many ways to organize meds. You can ask your pharmacist to print you an extra label (or use the one they give you that is with the 'side effects" printout) and put it on a small Ziploc bag, then put the medication in the bag. Alternatively, some pharmacies will prepare blister packs with all your meds grouped according to when you take them (example, day 1, am in one blister, day 1 lunch next, day 1 pm next, etc)and put all labels on the top of the sheet. You could use a pill organizer and put the labels from the pharmacy on one sheet of paper with the organizer. I also carry an additional information sheet with the above info that includes my Dr's phone #s, pharmacy's #, and emergency contact info as well as a list of my medical conditions, surgeries /dates. If you become ill while traveling, or need a refill because you lost meds, etc. this info could be vital. Feel free to private message me if you want a sample copy of the info sheet. Also, note that liquid meds of more than 3 oz should NOT be placed in your 3-1-1 bag, but should be in their own baggie, & in original bottle. Also if you use a CPAP, nebulizer, etc, these devices must be declared and removed for separate screening. Most airlines don't count these in # of allowed carry-on.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8332 posts

As Toni said, the regulation DOES NOT require medications to be labeled or to be in original containers. I take mine in a daily-dose container, or if I am just taking supplements, I throw them all into a single ziploc bag. TSA only cares about items that they consider security issues, not about medicine.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1952 posts

I am wondering what regulations James is referring to. US? EU? Could you please be more specific, James, and maybe provide a link?

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5654 posts

Peggy, I always take a copy of the prescription with me in case I need to refill it, but I never have. The extra label idea sounds good. I visit Italy often and never take vitamins with me, I buy them at a pharmacy once I arrive.

Posted by James E.
3230 posts

I admit, way too strong so I deleted it. I don't know what regulations and that's the problem. I've got a bum ticker but like a lot of people here I put my seven morning pills and my five evening pills into one of those cloth fold-up med pouches all sorted out with the little bag for each day. I also carry my prescription papers with me as evidence. I always worry someday it's going to be an issue but I learned its easy to get prescriptions filled in Europe (and cheaper) so I don't worry too much. In 12 years never had an issue. Still I worry about telling anyone else they aren't going to run into something. Can you imagine someone blaming you because they had to head home because they were missing a med bottle as evidence or some other sort of thing. Most of the guide books are also very conservative and tell you to leave them in the original packaging. But like I said, I don't either.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21432 posts

Peggy, I pack medications in pill form in a small zip-lok bag in my carry-on, and have never had a problem with that. I've never been asked to remove them for separate inspection. However, I'd suggest placing the Creams in your 3-1-1 bag, as those may be questioned as they're considered somewhat like a liquid or gel. Happy travels!

Posted by Peggy
Dayton, OH, USA
17 posts

Thank you all for the info. I went to the TSA site recommended by Jeff. It was very helpful. The suggestion of having a medical history and list of medications is very good advise. My first European tour was 15 years ago and the tour guide recommended everyone do this. I also keep a copy in my car glove compartment and my suitcase. Thanks again.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7870 posts

Definitely carry on your meds. Don't pack them. Normally, the advice is to carry meds in their original containers, bring your prescription, and bring enough (but not excessive amounts) for the length of your trip. A doctors note about your condition and why you are taking the medication is helpful if you need to replace meds on the road. You may not be able to replace a given med, so the information helps pharmacists/doctors identify a replacement (In many countries pharmacists do a lot more without requiring a doctor's prescription). The other thing to think about is some prescription drugs, that are legal here, are illegal in other countries, and considered contraband (and vice versa). That said, as most people here will attest, a personal supply of prescription meds is usually not an issue with either TSA or customs in the countries you're visiting.