Please sign in to post.

Prescription Meds in original container?

First time European traveler -- going on a 9-day Italy tour. RS website suggests bringing prescription meds in original container. Is that a must? Would prefer to just pack meds in a regular weekly pill sorter. Is that going to be a problem?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
7326 posts

If you search the board, you will see this discussed many times, lots of good suggestions. If I can boil down the responses, it would be this:

  • The concern from a "Customs" standpoint is being able to show that the medication belongs to you for personal use. It is rare you would be searched, but it could happen, probably more critical to have proof if you take anything classed as a Pain Medication or Opiate.
  • Your concern should be "What happens if I lose, spill down the drain, or miscount and pack too few?" basically, have a need for additional meds. If none are critical, maybe not an issue, if they are, then you really need to have some record of what you are taking.

Given the two above, the pill sorter is fine, but I would have your Pharmacist or Doctor print out a list of what you are taking, dosage, and frequency and bring this along. In the event of either of the above, you will have the information needed.

Posted by
4615 posts

We use zip lock baggies. The pharmacist prints out extra labels that we put on freezer zip locks. We take the original data sheets that come with the RX with us to show that it is for us. We've been to many European countries and have never had a problem. There are some American states that require prescription meds be in original containers but those laws are rarely enforced. I only remember reading about only one case in the last 20 years. But if you are taking high powered narcotic type meds you might want to keep those in the original container -- along with the original data sheet that comes with the med.

Posted by
3509 posts

I have taken over 50 trips to Europe. I have never been asked about anything I am carrying. However, I do keep all of my drugs in their original containers. I do not regularly carry any narcotics or other controlled substances so I doubt even if I was checked I would have a problem. You may use the baggie approach or daily dose box as you see fit and probably will also have no issues.

The only drugs I would be concerned about are controlled substances. I would keep those in their original packaging. I would not take more with me than what is prescribed for the amount of time I will be on my journey. I would also get a letter from my doctor explaining the medical condition I have that requires I take these specific drugs.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all! No high powered pain pills or opiates here so mainline meds should be fine.

Posted by
17353 posts

The only answer that comes close to a guarantee is to carry them in their original container.

I dont, but I dont give advise that contains risk, when alternatives are available. In 20+ years of traveling to Europe with no extreme measure for protection, I still have not been the victim of a pickpocket. On the other hand there was a woman on here that had something lifted out of her bra without noticing it. So, always remeember you could be the exception and dont blane anyone for their advice if you are.

I use a folding pill wallet with individula little tiny zip lock pouches in it. Also in it are all of the prescriptions. I carry the syringes tightly wrpped and so far they havent been noticed (I'm a healthy son of a b$%#@.

Posted by
6113 posts

This question is raised very regularly. To avoid any potential delays at the airport, take them in their original containers, which is the advice from most governments.

Posted by
1662 posts


We can only "suggest," or go by our own experiences which could greatly differ - depending on the 'tude of the security at the time.

I understand the pharmacy bottles are too big and round. Or, if they have smaller ones to fill just enough for your travels, maybe they can transfer the pills and put an official pharmacy label on it. Doesn't hurt to ask.

Many travelers have transferred their supply into pill baggies sold in most pharmacies; such as Walmart. And, a folder label describing the pill - color, mg, # on pill - is stuck onto the baggie. It may be fine. Or, you could ask the Pharmacist to print out labels for the scripts.

Another option - if your meds are eligible, ask if they can be put into blister packs.

Posted by
888 posts

I pack all prescription meds in a clear zipper bag. If the bottle is reasonably small i keep it in the original. I have one that comes in a huge bottle so I decant enough for the trip plus a few extra and stick a label on it. Nasal spray and eye drops come in card board boxes with the label stuck on that. I take them out of the box and cut out the label. Those labels and a complete list of all my meds goes in the bag. For TSA, meds don't have to be in your 3-1-1 bag but airport security in other countries may see it differently. at Heathrow coming home once I had to cram everything in one 3 quart ziplock.

I know others who used the mini-ziplock method. One bag for each day. In that case for sure bring some sort of written list or label from your pharmacy.

Posted by
3428 posts

Here is an answer I have posted before

TSA does NOT require that meds be in original bottle or label. Whether or not inspectors in other countries will worry about how you have your pills organized is always a question. Personally, I've never had a problem taking meds into other countries for my personal use (and we've had more than 40 international trips) **NOTE ** I now have to use an opiate based cough syrup for severe eosinophilic asthma and have had no problems in the USA (unfortunately I can't to international travel at this time).

It is the INFORMATION that is important- more in case you have a medical emergency, or need a refill (lost meds, trip extended...) You should have the brand name of the medication (ambien, etc.) and the generic name, and if no generic, a "chemical" name as brand names are not always the same. You can find this info on the print out the pharmacy gives you.

There are lots of ways to organize your meds. You can ask your pharmacist to print you an extra label (or use the one they give you that is with the 'side effects" printout) and put it on a small Ziploc bag, then put the medication in the bag. Alternatively, some pharmacies will prepare blister packs with all your meds grouped according to when you take them (example, day 1, am in one blister, day 1 lunch next, day 1 pm next, etc)and put all labels on the top of the sheet. You could use a pill organizer and put the labels from the pharmacy on one sheet of paper with the organizer. I always take generics for : naproxen (Aleve), aspirin, Benadryl, omeprazole (Prilosec), cough gel caps (Nyquil/Dayquil), and Dramamine. Additionally, I take plenty of our prescription meds. I also have a small first aid ‘kit’ in a quart baggie with band aids of assorted sizes, gauze pads, adhesive tape, seri-strips, dental floss, alcohol wipes, hand wipes, and small packets of Neosporin and cortisone cream. I use the small Ziploc type bags (Rite aid carries them in their travel section) to hold each of the pills, then put them inside a larger baggie to organize (hubby’s prescriptions in one, mine in another, and otc’s in a third). Takes very little space.

I carry an information sheet with the above info (one for me , one for hubby) and I also list my Dr's phone #s, pharmacy's #, and emergency contact info as well a list medical conditions, surgeries /dates. If you become ill while traveling, or need a refill because you lost meds, etc. it could be vital. Feel free to private message me if you want a sample copy of the info sheet. Also, note that liquid meds (of more than 3 oz or not) should NOT be placed in your 3-1-1 bag, but should be in their own baggie, in original bottle. Also if you use a CPAP, nebulizer, etc, these devices must be declared and removed for separate screening. Most airlines don't count these in # of allowed carry-on.

Posted by
5697 posts

When I refill a prescription, I save the old bottle so I can remove the label off to paste on a Ziploc sandwich-size bag for travel -- one baggie for each prescription or OTC pills. I include the prescriptions printout from my medical center online chart, and everything goes in a larger Ziploc which is always carried aboard, not checked.

Posted by
3985 posts

I can only give you my experience. If I carried every single prescription bottle, it would be too cumbersome. I put my meds in a ziploc bag. It's just easier and I have done this for years. None of my prescriptions is a controlled drug.

Posted by
214 posts

We travel with our prescription in containers with the proper labels. We get the smallest containers possible. We keep our vitamins in little baggies.

This is our solution. We want our prescriptions to be as secure as possible. Having said this we have never been asked about our pills. Also the labels are in English; to a border guard who may not know English.

We want to take no risks, others may not be as concerned.

Posted by
1625 posts

I recently traveled for the first time with a 6oz tube of medicated gel. Kept it in the box it came in that had the label, had to declare it to security and put it in it's own bin. Was pulled aside and the gel examined. Not a big deal but if I did not have the original packaging with me I don't think I could have proven it was medication and thus exempt from the liquids rule. I usually throw out the box it comes in, but since I knew I have two trips coming up, decided to keep it. Moral of the story: use common sense and when in doubt err on the side of caution.

Posted by
3428 posts

@Letizia - Yes, prescription medications that are liquids, gels, creams or lotions must be in their 'original' pharmacy provided container (*see note), and must have the proper prescription label. They should also be in a separate zip top, clear plastic bag- not your 3-1-1 bag, as they may have to be screened separately. At least they don't have to take up space in your 3-1-1 bag. You should also 'declare' them to the TSA agent when you arrive at the screening.

*NOTE- I have to take a liquid prescription cough medication for severe eosinophilic asthma. Because of the amount of my dose, it comes in a VERY large bottle. My pharmacist has given me a smaller bottle - with the same label- that I can use for travel. I just fill/refill it from my large bottle.

Posted by
3016 posts

I was also going to say have your pharmacist put them in blister packs.
That way, with time changes and jet lag, you can see exactly what you have taken and when.
Also they will pack flat in your carryon bag.
(Don't pack medication in any checked bags, in case they get lost.)
You need your meds. with you.

Posted by
2 posts

I save one bottle and put what I need for the trip plus a few more into it. Use that to travel, then move everything to the cubes for each day. Take off the label and throw the bottle away. I need an Epi-Pen for severe allergies, and carry the prescription with me as it has a needle in the tube.