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Medications to Europe

I'm coordinating a church trip to Germany this summer. Several of the folks have been asking about bringing their medications and what the guidelines are for customs. No one in the group will be in Europe more than 4 weeks.

These folks have anything from diabetes meds to ADHD to anti-depressants so I'm not sure if specific drugs have specific restrictions.

Any tips or advise? What about over the counter meds like ibuprofen or decongestant?

Posted by
2425 posts

there are no restrictions for prescribed medicines - nothing to worry about

Posted by
10338 posts

We have traveled to Europe( and the rest of the world) yearly for many years and take a variety of prescriptions with us including sleeping pills and Ativan to sleep on flights. We count out our pills and pack them in plastic bags and never have had a problem. We also print out a list of the prescriptions we take in case we need medical attention. Having them printed out from our doctor's online site (or pharmacy's) has been very helpful.

Posted by
7898 posts

The authorities see so much medicine coming through that they don't pay any attention to prescribed meds.
As a type II diabetic that's taking insulin through a pump, I have to carry vials of insulin and syringes in case my pump malfunctions. I am carrying a doctor's letter in case someone questions possession of syringes and needles.
One real world problem is travel by those with controlled substances for bad backs, arthritis or mobility problems. The government has prohibited more than a 30 day prescriptions of such medications--and are paying thru Medicare for monthly doctors' visits @ $450 plus the cost of meds. Such travelers cannot go abroad for more than 1 month.

Posted by
1075 posts

I package prescription and OTC meds in little pill pouches (tiny zip top bags) with the name of the med (and dosage for prescriptions) written on the bag. No issue at all. Take what you need. Some folks say buy the OTC stuff when you get there, but if it's midnight and I can't sleep because of a sneezing fit, I want a benadryl! So I take a few of the more common things like naproxin, benadryl, claritin, an couple of single-use packs of antibiotic ointment, etc. They take up very little room.

Posted by
2766 posts

No restrictions for small amounts (like what someone would need for a trip).

If the medication is liquid they can take it in any size (liquids are limited in carry ons, but medications are an exception). They will need to alert security they have a medical liquid, and if it's a prescription then have the prescription label. If it's over the counter have it in the original bottle not an unmarked container (like a store bought bottle of cough syrup would be fine)

For pills, just take them. Have the prescription label for reference. Sometimes it is advised to have things in their original bottle but I put my over the counter things in a small pillbox and no one ever looks twice.

For anything with a syringe - a doctors note may be helpful

Posted by
4355 posts

First off, liquid meds do not have to go in the 311 bag. For RX pills (and over the counter meds like ibuprofen or decongestants) this is what we do to save space & weight. Have the pharmacist print out extra labels. Put the pills in a freezer zip lock and put the extra label on it. Take the original data sheet that comes with the RX with you to show that it is for that individual. We have been to many European countries and have never had a problem. There are some state laws that require prescription meds to be in original containers, but they are rarely enforced and I can only remember reading about one case in the last 20 years.

Posted by
37 posts

Thanks! This is pretty much what I thought.

I had a daughter study abroad in Spain a few years ago and we had to get a doctor's note explaining why she was bringing in the meds she had for ADHD, but I think it was because of her much longer stay. I just wanted to double check to be sure.

Posted by
362 posts

Adding to the original poster's question here, because I am traveling soon and my brand new prescription eye drops come in unit dose form, rather than cute like 3-6 ml bottles. The entire box of individual doses of eye drops is bulky, and that's where the drugstore label is located.

My main concern is how to correctly take this through TSA. All I have to do is pull the box out of my backpack and inform a TSA officer that this is medical? I assume they still scan it separately, but this happens enough that they won't pitch my medication in the trash for being excess liquid?

It's probably a silly question, but this is my first time traveling with these eye drops. And they aren't cheap.

Posted by
5828 posts

Here are the American TSA rules:

Inform the TSA Officer

Inform the TSA officer that you have medically necessary liquids
and/or medications and separate them from other belongings before
screening begins. Also declare accessories associated with your liquid
medication such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps and syringes.
Labeling these items can help facilitate the screening process.

3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption

You may bring medically necessary liquids, medications and creams in
excess of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in your carry-on bag. Remove
them from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of
your belongings. You are not required to place your liquid medication
in a plastic zip-top bag. If a liquid, gel, or aerosol declared as
medically-necessary alarms, then it may require additional screening
and may not be allowed


Ice packs, freezer packs, gel packs, and other accessories may be
presented at the screening checkpoint in a frozen or partially-frozen
state to keep medically necessary items cool. All items, including
supplies associated with medically necessary liquids such as IV bags,
pumps, and syringes must be screened before they will be permitted
into the secure area of the airport.


TSA officers may test liquids, gels or aerosols for explosives or
concealed prohibited items. If officers are unable to use X-ray to
clear these items, they may ask to open the container and transfer the
content to a separate empty container or dispose of a small quantity
of the content, if feasible.

Inform the TSA officer if you do not want your liquid medication to be
screened by X-ray or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear
the liquid and you will undergo additional screening procedures to
include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.

Posted by
14145 posts

I've gone through two TSA checkpoints in the last two days.

I've have never been questioned about pills no matter how many I was bringing. And my trips last up to 3 months so you can imagine it's not just a small supply.

This time, I had to travel with prescription ointments. I put them in a separate ziplock bag.

The first checkpoint, Pre-Check, had me take the bag out for separate screening. No one gave a second look to itl

The second screening, no Pre-Check because it was on an international airline, had me also take the bag out. This time a screener looked at the bag and said it was prescription so it was okay.

Both times I was asked if they were under 3 oz. They were but that shouldn't matter. I had the prescription labels for the ointments in the bag with the tubes to make it easy.

And in both occassions I could keep my 3-1-1- bag in my suitcase. They didn't care. (Normal on Pre-Check but surprising on foreign airline. Perhaps because it was Fast track because. My belt could also stay on.)

Posted by
2444 posts

Can someone answer a question about non-prescription liquid medications? I use Nasacort in a pump dose bottle and eye drops in individual droppers for allergies, also liquid cortisone on a applicator dauber bottle. Can I put these in my medicine pouch, along with my pills? Or do they need to be in my 311 bag. That 311 bag is filling fast and is almost overflowing with just the basics.

Posted by
25578 posts

Horsewoofie, I can't answer your question, but if the news is bad, I'd ditch the easily replaceable stuff like shampoo, conditioner and lotion and buy it on arrival. It might be trickier to find local equivalents of your OTC medical items.

Posted by
5828 posts

...about non-prescription liquid medications?

No problem with liquids in excess of 100 ml in your checked baggage other than the checked baggage weight limits. You can even pack regular size toothpaste, shampoos and shaving gels in your checked baggage. And several church members could share a checked bag.

Posted by
14145 posts

Non prescription liquids, gels, ointments, etc have to go in the 3-1-1 bag.

Go online and see if any is available where you are going. If worse comes to worse, as was stated previously, leave the toothpaste, shampoo, and other personal care items out and get them when you arrive. Some hotels may even have these items to get you started.

Posted by
25578 posts

Virtually all hotels do supply shampoo. Above a certain level, most also supply lotion of some sort.

Posted by
2444 posts

Thank you for answering my question. Changing to allergy pills will save a bit of room. I'm hoping my allergies will disappear in a damper climate, like when we visit OR and WA.

Posted by
487 posts

Horsewoofie, if you read the language posted by Edgar, it says anything "medically necessary" can be brought in larger quantities, it DOES NOT specify that it must be prescription or that it must go in the 311 bag. Below is a website where you can enter specific items to see what TSA says about it. Entering "contact solution" gives the following blurb.

TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and
aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare
them to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection.

We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to
facilitate the security process.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to
additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it
triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been
tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision
rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.

Posted by
487 posts

More information about medications since Horsewoofie mentioned Nasacort.

Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk
and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces
in reasonable
quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically
required liquids in a zip-top bag.
However, you must tell the
Transportation Security Officer that you have medically necessary
liquids at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process.
Medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening
that could include being asked to open the container. We recommend,
but do not require, that medication be labeled to facilitate the
security process. Many airports have designated lanes for families and
individuals with items requiring additional assistance with screening.

Posted by
367 posts

Hi Lisa:

I take both prescription and non rx when I travel. I keep the prescriptions in the bottle from the pharmacy because it is a small bottle The otc I take out of the box and just take it in the inside package.

. What I would suggest is that everyone brings a prescription from their doctor for whatever they take with the generic name in case pills get lost or something happens. Also if the pills are vital and the person cannot function without them, I take hormone replacement so it is not vital, :-) and I could function if i did not have it, take more than the exact amount needed. This is in case one gets dropped down the sink or on the floor.

Lastly , keep all rx drugs in your carry on. Do not put them in the checked bag. That way if the bag goes missing everyone will still have what they need