I'll be traveling to Scotland and Norway. Flying back to the US I'll be boarding my trans Atlantic flight in Amsterdam. I plan to divide my meds into small plastic bags instead of taking the bulky prescription bottles. Has anyone had a problem clearing customs or airline security with medications not in the labeled bottles from the pharmacy? Thank you

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
646 posts

I've been putting my meds in snack bags for the last couple years. Never a problem, but I get meds from Target and put the duplicate labels (from the instructions) on the outside of the snack bag.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7474 posts

You won't have any problems heading into Europe; customs is just a walk through. But coming back to the US it is required to have pharmacy labels on the containers. If you get selected for a hand search you could be delayed a bit. So if you're bringing along just enough to cover your travels you should be okay.

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
905 posts

Ditto Michael. Generally, I don't worry about it, and throw all of my pills together, unlabeled, when I travel. I have never had a problem, leaving, or returning when I do this, BUT But there are two major concerns; 1. Bringing "controlled drugs" into a foreign " country. Some countries have some very stringent controls on certain types of drugs; especially opiates or drugs that they may consider additive. IMHO, I would only take them in their original bottle, and carry a copy of my prescription. 2. Bringing "controlled drugs" back home, or for that matter, any drugs. Customs can get you! Here is what they say: "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 U.S." (Note; the underlining, in the last sentence is theirs, not mine.),-such-as-needles-or-oxygen-tanks

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
905 posts

cont. It should be noted that TSA has "minimal restrictions" on what you carry; TSA says: "Passengers are allowed to bring medications in pill or other solid form through security screening checkpoints in unlimited amounts, as long as they are screened. 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." So what to do? Check the laws of the country where you are going and make sure that none of your meds, and containers, run afoul of their laws. If you are carrying potentially addictive drugs, opiates, etc., you had better have a copy of your prescription, etc. If none of your meds are controlled by the visiting country, you could throw them together, (TSA doesn't care) and consume all of them before you come home. But if you want to bring some home, Customs can legally "nail you" if you don't meet their requirements. Generally, I worry about TSA "outbound" and Customs "inbound".

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
1899 posts

Controlled drugs require an import licence issued by the Home Office to be taken into the UK for personal use. Probably unlikely Peggy is talking about these, but they have been mentioned by others above. Public Heath England states "Always carry medicines in a correctly labelled container as issued by the pharmacist"; probably the same would apply from Scottish Public Health.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3055 posts

In more than 40 trips to Europe (most including some time in the UK) I was NEVEAR questioned about my medications- and I take plenty. I used to use the pharmacy bottles. But switched to organizing them into daily 'baggies' using very small Ziploc type bags. I always take at least 2 or 3 days 'extra' in case of delays. I DO bring a full list of my meds with brand, generic and sometimes chemical names, the conditions for which they are prescribed and a brief medical history and all my doctors' names and phone numbers. I usually also take the 'duplicate' labels that come with the safety printouts the pharmacy gives me. These are more incase of a medical emergency rather than security checks. US Customs has never done more than ask for the card we have to fill out and asked about farm stays, etc.
TSA is definitely NOT interested in meds- except liquids. Those should be in their own Ziploc bag (not the 3-1-1 bag). TSA has checked my nebulizer the few times I had to carry it with me (it's for my asthma medications- something like a small air compressor). I haven't had to take it on international flights (yet). If you would like a copy of my medical info sheet, just private message me with your email and I'll send you a blank form.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
905 posts

No one in the U.S. or around the world has so much as even glanced at our prescription and over-the-counter medications.