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Packing Medications

We live in the US and are traveling to Ireland. Should we bring medications in original containers with prescription information or use weekly pill organizers? We'll also have photos of prescriptions on our phones. Thanks.

Posted by
13827 posts

If you use the "search" box at the to of this page you'll find many discussions on this matter.

Posted by
14024 posts

I carry the meds in the "original containers with prescription information" and I bring along the weekly pill container to dish out the needed pills per week.

In 2017 it was a good thing that the original container was with me since I had to go a pharmacy in Berlin because I had not brought along the right number of pills, ie, 50% short. Once the pharmacist saw my original container, she at once told me I needed a written prescription from a German doctor before she could sell me the pills.

Posted by
1259 posts

Yes, google. Lots of advice, question comes up weekly seems.
Nutshell: rigid containers take up way too much space. Repackage into tiny bags, clearly labeled, carry photocopies of your Rx labels (altho I cannot recall anyone ever needing those). Another strategy is to discuss your meds with your docs and see if there's anything you can do without for a few weeks. Leave the supplements at home; you will easily survive without those.

Posted by
4519 posts

I never take the original containers - I put them in a ziplock bag and then take a photo of the labels just in case I'm asked for it (which I never have been).

Posted by
8077 posts

I think the point of having label information is in case you are in need of medical care (say, hit by a Vespa) and the care providers need to know what you're taking and why. You cant tell a lot of pills apart just by looking at them, and brand names or generic names aren't always universally understood.

Posted by
5192 posts

I just did some googling. CDC says original containers, TSA says they don't need to be. I've talked to my dr. and pharmacist. Both have said there is nothing magical about the original container. I do not and haven't for years, traveled with medications in the original containers. I do put the prescription meds in a ziploc with the corresponding label from the pharmacist (the same label that is on the original container). I also have a print out of any medications I routinely take that comes from my doctor, and also scan it for my phone. It would be helpful if I ever needed it for any questioning but also in the case of a medical emergency.

Posted by
1418 posts

I always put mine into organizers and have never had an issue.

Posted by
660 posts

We just take the paper copy of the Rx that's sent with our medicines. A small copy of that is made to include with the pills in small baggies. I'm sort of superstitious with the Ambien and bring it in it's original very small container.

Posted by
4 posts

I use tiny medication bags that zip closed available in multiple packages at Walmart. I take the label off the prescription bottles and stick them onto the outside of each tiny bag.

Posted by
859 posts

At Heathrow in August 2022 (arriving) my medications were scrutinised by security. I had my prescriptions and original medication boxes with me - flattened to take up less space - and my medications still in their blister packs. They asked to see it all. But my medication cooler full of syringes had set off some type of warning at the X-ray stage, so maybe that explained the intense scrutiny.

My vitamins were intermingled and security just ignored them.

Posted by
16019 posts

AussieNomad, that is why I cringe at "i never ......... and I never had ........" recommendations. You just don't know.

I have had the same issue with my syringes. I was once asked for the "prescription" for them. Fortunately I had the Amazon.com receipt.

Posted by
1602 posts

If you are taking Schedule 2 drugs I suggest you bring your original containers with prescription info, otherwise I just use a pill organizer. I also bring any prescription gels/lotions in the original box with prescription so I can bring in my carry on. One of my prescription lotions for arthritis I now buy over the counter, but I saved one of the boxes with the prescriptions boxes so I can slip it in there to bring on the plane. It has been pulled out of my bag before and reviewed with no problem after that.

Posted by
660 posts

I vaguely remember bringing little slips of paper that contained some scribbles to pharmacies. I don't think I've handled one in 15 years. Since then the doctor's office simply calls them in or orders them online for 3 month supplies. I suspect they are seldom asked to supply written Rx's. To me it seems that the documents the pharmacy supplies with the Rx's would be more useful than scribbles anyway since they are legible. I've always carried just those pharmacy papers while traveling but maybe I should be obtaining these old-fashioned slips before travel? It does seem rather silly driving to the offices for them.

Posted by
154 posts

As my current Rx bottles are refilled, I plan to peel off the label, stick it to a sheet of paper and when I have all my Rxs on that sheet of paper, take a photo with my phone. Maybe scan it also.

Hopefully it will help if someone wants to know what's in the weekly container or mini ziplocs. Also if I need a refill while away and the Dr. needs to know the generic name. Even at home when the Dr's office starts asking about current meds and dosages. I always answer when they ask about the mgs, "whatever y'all prescribed XX years ago."

Original containers? How would someone other than a Pharmacist know if those pills are really my blood pressure meds or something more interesting I just put in my BP Rx bottle? Even a Pharmacist would be guessing based on their familiarity with what they handle day after day.

Posted by
86 posts

Here is the official statement from TSA
"TSA does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply."
https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips/can-you-pack-your-meds-pill-case-and-more-questions-answered

Official statement from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol
"Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. A valid prescription or doctors note is required on all medication entering the United States."
https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-1160?language=en_US

Official statement from the US Embassy in Ireland
"Carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription."
https://ie.usembassy.gov/medical-assistance/

Posted by
859 posts

A valid prescription or doctors note is required on all medication entering the United States."
https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-1160?language=en_US

My country, Australia, has a similar rule about needing prescriptions and original packaging, and when I returned from an overseas trip bringing medication back with me that I hadn't finished on my trip, I was checked when I declared it. So customs on arrival wanted to see the medication that I had taken with me from Australia for my trip, but hadn't finished and so was bringing home again.

Official statement from the US Embassy in Ireland
"Carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription."
https://ie.usembassy.gov/medical-assistance/

Why would you risk getting your unlabelled medication confiscated at the start of your trip? It's not going to be easy to replace it if that happens.

If you are worried about luggage restrictions, most airlines exempt medication from the carry on allowance and let you have an extra bag for it. I travelled around Europe for 7 weeks last year with a medication cooler that was in addition to my carry on luggage and personal bag and all I did was just tell airline staff that it was my prescription medication and they waved me on board.

Posted by
1259 posts

As my current Rx bottles are refilled, I plan to peel off the label, stick it to a sheet of paper and when I have all my Rxs on that sheet of paper, take a photo with my phone. Maybe scan it also.

My pharmacy's labels cannot be removed from the bottles. They are designed to self-destruct. I don't know what your relationship is with your pharmacy but you might ask them for hardcopy of your current Rx labels. Explain you need them for international travel. They may have a solution for you.