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Ok to transfer prescriptions from bottles to small plastic packages

Bringing a number prescription meds
to Netherlands

Ok to move to small packages
or best to keep in original bottles?
love to know personal experiences

thanks

Posted by
3283 posts

There are many threads on the forum on what to do with prescription meds. Most will say that it is extraordinarily infrequent than customs will care about your meds. I put mine in ziplock bags with the prescription labels that my pharmacist prints for me. When I traveled with my daughter who takes ADHD meds, I had her doctor write a note explaining the need for the med, and I kept that med in its original container. For my upcoming trip, for the first time, I will be bringing a narcotic (and a very small quantity). I have a note from my doctor, and I will be keeping that in its original container. I don't take that many prescription medications, for those that use the pill box organizers, I personally feel, they should either keep the pills in the original containers or in ziplocks with labels until they get to Europe which at that point, they could sort into the pillboxes. Again, this is all my opinion and preference.

Posted by
4964 posts

mckellar415, I dont know anyone who has had an issue bringing personal meds into Europe through Customs. But imagine the problem if you show up in an Emergency Room with a problem, or after a car accident, and you cant tell them what meds you're on, or what the underlying condition is. And all the cops & EMT find on you is a baggie of little white pills. They can't tell by looking at the pills what they are. That to me is the real purpose of having original packages or the written prescriptions with generic names, with you.

Posted by
2487 posts

The safest way is to keep the original packaging and the relevant prescription.
Years ago my beloved one needed to take injections and had syringes in her luggage. The Customs wanted to check whether they had a medical purpose. In such a case all indications are helpful such is indeed the case.

Posted by
6033 posts

I don't think having it in original bottles is necessary as long as it's accompanied by a copy of the prescription and directions for use. If you should be hospitalized or need more of a medication it's the actual prescription that is important, not the packaging.

Posted by
5 posts

I carry a small pharmacy with me when we travel. I bought a package of small ziplock bags at the craft store. I transfer the prescriptions as well as Benedryl and other tablet into separate bags. On the front of the bag I glue the pharmacy prescription. I put all of these small bags into a larger sturdy (freezer) sandwich bag. I label the front of bags that do not have Rx labels with the content and the dose. I have never had any customs in Europe stop me with questions. I put this bag in my carry-on backpack. I would also suggest putting a business card from your primary care physician in the bag in the event there are question or you need to go to a hospital.
One last thought -- if you have issue that may send you to the ER (in my case kidney stones) carry a CD with important information such as the last several X-rays. This will aid to get faster, effective medical help.

Posted by
4808 posts

The advice has been good so far, you can repackage them, just have labels, both for ID and in case you should need replacement. The exception might be if you require Opiates or Pain meds, those may be better off in the original container.

They can't tell by looking at the pills what they are

Actually they can gather quite a bit of information and even ID the exact medication. Each medication has some combination of marking, shape, and color intended to be somewhat unique. Books are published specifically for the ID of medications by Pharmacists, Doctors, and First Responders. You can try it out yourself by going here: https://www.webmd.com/pill-identification/default.htm

Posted by
306 posts

We repackaged our pills into small pill plastic pill bags we bought at the drugstore. Our physician gave us a letter stating the types of medications needed and their purpose.
We had no problems.

Posted by
5288 posts

I have gone both ways -- original packaging and Ziploc bags for each medication with the prescription peeled off the original bottle and pasted on the baggie. I also print out the medications list from my medical group (UCSF)

Posted by
113 posts

I have entered Europe through Paris, Athens and Milan on separate occasions and have never had any issue with my meds which I keep in a daily pill case. Never brought letter from my doc or list with me. Maybe I am just lucky but on all three occasions, all they did is stamp my passport and send me on my way. Planning to leave for Brussels in a week and will prob use the same pill case. I don't take any narcotics, I suppose if I did, I would take in original bottle. Curious if anyone has had issue with this entering Brussels customs.

Posted by
4808 posts

Curious if anyone has had issue with this entering Brussels customs.

I doubt if many people at all have had issues with Customs, but only because they simply have not had to engage with customs. If you were to stop and ask them to look at your medication, or are asked to stop, and approve of how you are doing them...it might be different. That said, for run of the mill medication in small amounts, I still do not think you would ever be questioned on examination. But if you have an unreasonable amount for the length of trip or have meds of interest (Pain, ADD, etc.); then more attention would be paid.

My biggest concern is not Customs, but a plan to replace if it is something I can not do without. In that case documentation from a Doctor or a copy of the Label/Prescription would be vital, even if it was just on my phone.

Posted by
3283 posts

Just to be clear, I am NOT suggesting throwing pills in a baggie without any info. I have the pharmacist print the same labels that go on the container. I put those labels on a ziplock bag. I typically also bring on vacation the summary of a recent doctor visit which always lists the medications I am currently taking. I agree with Paul's thoughts. Don't get overly concerned. I would worry more about having what you need in terms of documentation in case you should become ill or need additional meds and have a doctor's note for any meds that might be on a list of frequently abused. (opiates, ADD meds)

Also if you bring any OTC meds, I would still make sure to label the bag if you transfer the med, AND write the dosage. I was out of town last weekend and needed tylenol and I wasn't quite sure if the dose was one or two capsules.

Posted by
64 posts

I always put prescription meds in a pill case; no labels and no prescriptions. OTC drugs are in a baggie. Have never had an issue including two trips overseas this year.

I am curious to hear from someone that actually had a problem carrying a normal supply of personal drugs. When and where?