Flying with Prescription Medication

Flying with Prescription Medication

Flying with Prescription Medication

A recent post by Free Travel Guys got me thinking about flying with prescription medication.  I almost always travel with medication and have never thought twice about it.

The gist of his post is that he was stopped by TSA Customs and Border Protection and harassed about having expired medications in his luggage.  While he ultimately was allowed to fly, his Global Entry was revoked days later.

When I travel, I put just enough of my medication in a single prescription bottle which I place in my carryon.  Both my prescription and non-prescription pills go in the same bottle.  It’s just easier that way for me.  I grab the bottle and bring it down with me to breakfast.

I took a look at the bottle I use and it has an expiration date of some years ago.  Like I said, I just reuse the bottle.

I would have been in the same situation as the Free Travel Guys if I were ever stopped by TSA.

So what are the rules around flying with prescription medication?

The official TSA blog had this post from 2013 that explained:

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.

This would make it seem that it is up to the individual state to make the decision.  There is no universal TSA rule.

Now, if you are traveling from another country back into the USA, then Customs and Border Protection comes into play.  Their website says:

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.

The author of the post was traveling from the US to Australia, so not sure why Customs and Border Protection rules would even apply in his circumstances.

If you are traveling abroad you should check the laws of the local government regarding labeling and storing requirements of medication.


From my understanding, if you are traveling within the USA, the TSA should not have any reason to bother you about your medications (unless, say, it is a liquid over 3 ounces and you are trying to carry it on).

If you are an American traveling home from abroad, it is best to have documentation of your prescription medications.

What is your process for flying with prescription medication?  Do you always keep them in the original, up to date bottle?  Do you bring a copy of the prescription?

3 thoughts on “Flying with Prescription Medication”

  1. Prescription meds in pill form are mixed in with my vitamins, no way for them to tell. I’m a Type 1 Diabetic and travel (and live) with insulin in clearly marked pens. Scrip label is on box in fridge (a box contains 5 pens) and have never been hassled at all.

  2. Always have them in my carryon. My meds are for migraines and spinal issues, so I keep them in the original bottle to ensure no one questions me having them. Don’t always need them. But when I need them, I really need them. Most I’ve every had someone look at them was coming back into the US. CBP agent quickly read each bottle, set them back down, thanked me for having them in the original pharmacy bottles, and sent me on my way without looking at any other contents of my carryon.


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