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Medications and Customs

I have probably 10-15 medications that I need to bring on our trip to Italy. Does anyone have a similar experience that can tell me how difficult it will be to bring them NOT in their individual bottles. I can take a picture of the bottles but it would take half a suitcase if I have to bring them all for the front info. Thanks,

Posted by
14090 posts

I'd probably only be concerned about having prescriptions in the original bottles if they are some kind of narcotic or controlled substance.

You won't actually stop at Customs at your Italian arrival airport. It is literally a green door you walk thru that says nothing to declare.

Posted by
1059 posts

It’s not customs you have to be concerned about. That is just a door you walk through after you’ve collected all your luggage and are exiting the airport. You go through ‘nothing to declare’.

The concern is airport security when you are boarding a flight. That is when they may examine your luggage.

Posted by
15336 posts

I travel with a few medications and some bottles would also take up much of my bag.

I put those into ziplocs. I also have a copy of the prescription--the label that comes on the bottle--with me if asked. (Your pharmacist can print this for you but mine come with a copy on the enclosed information sheet.)

If any of your prescriptions are narcotic or controlled substance they should remain in their original container.

Also, if your trip is for two weeks, don't bring three months worth of medication. That would be suspicious.

But as Pam said, chances are no one is going to stop you. They have the right to stop you but they probably won;t.

Security doesn't care about pills. Only liquids.

Posted by
7587 posts

You really have two concerns. Taking drugs into a country, and then what do you do if you need to replace them.

Traveling with the amount you need for the duration of your trip, for items prescribed to you is rarely a problem. Take what you need plus a safety buffer, so if going for two weeks, do not bring 90 days worth, bring maybe 3 weeks worth.

Bring copies of your prescriptions, either paper or on your phone, showing exactly what it is and dosage. If you any Opiate derived medications (pain killers mainly) or medications for ADHD or other issues that are classed as amphetamines, then I would have a Doctors letter indicating why they prescribed them and what dosage. I would also leave those in their original bottle, or at least a container with a prescription label on them.

For standard, heart, cholesterol, and the many other issues we have, mixing or having them in a ziploc is fine, just have prescription copies someplace.

It would be rare that anyone would question you, when they see the supporting information and see you do not have enough to sell, they likely just move you on. More importantly, if you happen to lose your bag, or scatter your pills in the sink, you have information to go to a Doctor and attempt to get replacements. Your prescription alone will not work to get more, you would need to see a Doctor, who would need to write a prescription for that, or something similar.

Posted by
5778 posts

I put medications in two ziplock bags--AM and PM. I put the prescription labels from the pharmacist (I ask for an additional set of labels) on the appropriate bag. I keep medications that I don't take routinely (like an antibiotic or possibly a narcotic) in their original containers. If I had a narcotic or some ADHD type med, I would have a note from my physician.

I bring the amount of medication needed for the trip plus about 5 additional days, no more.

In addition to comments mentioned above, I would make sure all your medications, OTC and prescription are actually legal in the countries you are visiting. I was just in New Zealand, melatonin was by prescription only. Some ADHD meds and sudafed are not legal in some countries. While I might be a bit lax on how I carry my meds (like not in the original container) I would make sure all medications on my person are legal. Another issue I've heard about lately relates to CBD gummies, oils, etc.

Posted by
4917 posts

We get extra labels from the pharmacy and put them on zip lock bags that hold the meds. We also take the data sheets that comes with the meds. We've never had a problem doing things this way. It you have meds that are considered narcotics, you might want to keep those in the original containers. You might also ask the pharmacy for smaller containers.

Posted by
11280 posts

We pour the pills into baggies and have printouts of the Rxs. We have never ever been questioned anywhere in the world while traveling.

Posted by
8183 posts

My wife always carries a bunch of prescriptions in the original bottles--including 3 controlled substances.

She's never been stopped or questioned about her drugs on 20+ trips to Europe. Customs has better things to do with their time than bother going through all those pills one by one.

Posted by
916 posts

My husband takes a list of his medications on his hospital's letterhead. His meds are in his two-week medication container. Extra meds are in their original containers. I think it's wise to be cautious, but I've always wondered if any authority at an airport would be able to tell if the pills in a px. meds container are the actual pills for that prescription.

Posted by
7587 posts

but I've always wondered if any authority at an airport would be able to tell if the pills in a px. meds container are the actual pills for that prescription.

Can't answer for all authorities, but all pills are identifiable, at least legal ones, by the color, shape, and numbers/letters on the pill, whether it be prescription or OTC. You can also access online databases, like that can identify a specific pill.

Posted by
5778 posts

Beyond what occurs when leaving or entering a country, with or maybe with sketchy "probable cause", an official/law enforcement officer can search a car, purse, suitcase, whatever. So in the case of an accident, speeding or whatever offense or perceived offense a person's belongings can be searched beyond the airport. I don't think I'd want an official to pull out an unmarked baggie filled with pills.

A friend's daughter is a human rights attorney. When she was just starting in her work, she never thought much about medications she carried. She has terrible allergies and sinus problems so always carries Sudafed. Another attorney was horrified when in a meeting this gal took out some sudafed which was not legal in the country they were working in. As an attorney at odds with a government it is conceivable she might be searched at some point.

Maybe I hang out with too many lawyers, but just because one person's medications/belongings are not searched at an airport, it doesn't mean someone else's belongings won't be. Or that a search won't occur outside of the airport.

I just think we need to be careful. It's a bit similar to the whole carrying the passport debate. There's the law, and there's what people decide to do for themselves after hopefully diligent research.

Posted by
15336 posts

Some pharmacies, Walgreens does this, put an extra label on the printed material you get with all medications. Underneath that label is a description of the pills.

I'm really not worried if I'm stopped by customs or the police as everything I have is legal.

I put some of my medications in ziploc bags. I write the name of the medication on the bag with a sharpie. The container I hold all my medications in--a packing cube--also has a ziploc with printouts of all the medications. I can match each printout with the medication bags if asked.

True, however, you have to make sure the medication you're taking into a country is legal in that country. Or there are no limits as to how much you can bring in. (Japan limits to 30 days without a customs form.)