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Meds, CPAP and Airport Security

I know this topic has been brought up before, but I'm reading conflicting information on it so I thought I would ask here. I'll be traveling to France and the UK next month. I have a lot of pretty serious health issues and I take a lot of meds. I had hoped to carry everything in one carry-on bag, an older Rick Steves Backdoor Bag. I will also be bringing my CPAP unit. I take 12 pills every morning, 5 at night, and I have diabetic meds as well, including two different insulin pens. I've read some posts and/or messages about how all I need is a letter from my doctor confirming that all my meds are necessary and legitimate, and that I could keep my pills in my one-week daily pillbox, accompanied by that letter. But I've read other messages and watched recent youtube travel videos that say I must bring all of my meds in their original labeled bottles along with that doctor's letter. For me that would mean bringing 12 different bottles, a couple of which are huge. If it helps to know, we are flying into Paris and traveling to Normandy for the D-day anniversary events, then we're taking a Brittany ferry from Caen to Portsmouth, where we will rent a car and travel to Somerset. After staying in Somerset for a few days we'll travel to London and take a plane from Heathrow to Paris. We'll spend a couple of days in Paris and then fly home to the U.S.

I have some trepidation at the thought of having hassles going through airport security with a carry-on bag and all these meds. Maybe I could avoid it all by using check-in bags?

Thank you,

Posted by
18519 posts

The UK has a web site that explains their rules very nicely. I imagine France does too. Search and Google and no matter what you read here do what the government web sites say to do, to the letter of the law. Then sit back and enjoy your trip.

Posted by
15545 posts

If any of your pills are narcotic or controlled substance, keep them in their original container. (Also check to make sure the medications are allowed in either the UK or France.)

Have a copy of each prescription--the one that comes on the bottles you get from the pharmacy. Your pharmacist will print them out if you need copies.

For anything injectible, have a note from your doctor.

Only bring enough for your trip and a few days extra. More than that and it could be questioned.

Customs is not trying to catch people with their own prescribed medication. Airport security only cares about the injectibles. I travel with three month worth of pills at the beginning of my trip--and that's about 900 pills. Almost all have been transferred to either ziploc bags or a weekly pill case. And I have never been stopped or questioned.

Posted by
23425 posts

My experience is the same as Frank II but not 900 pills. Closer to 75 for a three week period. Never been questioned because you have nothing to declare and you walk through the Green door at customs without stopping. i used to worry a little bit about TSA seeing a zip lock bag of mixed pills. But, they have never said anything so throw everything in zip lock bags. But just plain old pills in a mix of color and sizes.

Posted by
6823 posts

I just got back from England, and took meds enough for around 40 days, plus some extra. I also took CBD gummies, and a CPAP machine. Nobody blinked an eye or bothered to even look closely, that I'm aware of.

By the way, here's a tip for the CPAP. I got a new machine last year since my older one was 5 years old and Medicare pays for it. So I kept the old machine and that's what I travel with. Also, because Medicare provides new supplies every 3 months, I always have a stockpile of hoses, masks, and even a couple of reservoirs. When I get new supplies, I put them aside (if I'm close to a trip), then right before I leave, I take the older supplies and pack them in the case and put the new supplies on the home machine.

The morning I fly home, I pack the machine and the electric cord, then dump all the rest of the supplies. You can leave the case pockets for those empty or do what I do, which is pack it with clothes. Again, I've never been stopped or questioned about this.

Posted by
11350 posts

We never have had even a comment carrying meds and a C-Pap through airport security throughout the world.

Posted by
11 posts

I would definitely not put meds in a checked bag; if the bag is lost or you're delayed in part of the journey, that could be really bad.

Posted by
7393 posts

”…..we are flying into Paris and traveling to Normandy for the D-day anniversary events.”

I don’t have any medical information to share, but I hope all goes very well for you to attend this D-Day anniversary in Normandy! A very important, honoring trip.

Posted by
158 posts

I have traveled internationally a few times with an injectable medication (Humira). A few airports have checked the note from my doctor, and a few have not cared. I kept it in its original package. For my other meds (pill form), I usually take them out of the packaging without a problem, but I would recommend researching government sites and then deciding based on your comfort level. I would NOT put your meds in a check-in bag for lots of reasons- what if your bag is lost or delayed? Or your flight is delayed? Lots could go wrong there.

Posted by
18519 posts

Yup, happens

I have a of preplexing problem. In my new home country the prescription is confiscated when it is filled. The drugs dont come in bottles with a printed prescription label, they come in blister cards in boxes. I guess I will have to collect letters from my doctors.