How to Avoid TSA Anxiety When Traveling With Prescription Drugs

For the most part, air travel is about fixing one nuisance after another. From driving to and from the airport to interacting with naughty or unreasonable fellow travelers on your flight, it is usually not a very pleasant experience.

But there are a few things you can do to make at least some parts of the process a little smoother. This includes knowing what to do when prescription drugs pass through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. Here’s what to keep in mind when packing and traveling.

How to travel with prescription drugs in carry-on baggage

Not only is it possible to travel with prescription drugs in carry-on luggage, this is recommended (in case you need immediate access). In fact, TSA rules state that travelers are allowed to import their drugs in pill or solid form “in unlimited quantities” while they are being screened. (We’ll get to liquids in a minute.) And if you are traveling with liquid medicines, you are not required to tell (or show) a TSA officer that you have prescriptions in your carry-on baggage.

Like everything else in your carry-on baggage, prescription drugs are checked using X-rays. But if you don’t want your medication to be X-rayed, you can request a visual examination – just remember to do this before your bag enters the tunnel.

How to travel with liquid medicines

If you are taking prescription drugs in liquid form, you are allowed to take them with you in your carry-on baggage, even if they exceed the normally allowed 3.4 ounces (and provided that this is a “reasonable amount”). The same rules apply to nitroglycerin spray. Plus, you don’t have to put liquid recipes in a zippered bag.

The main difference is that you must let the TSA officer know that you are traveling with liquid prescription drugs at the beginning of the screening process. Also be aware that liquid medicine will be subject to additional testing, including asking you to open the container.

Do recipes have to be in original bottles?

Although the TSA does not require that passengers traveling with their prescription medications in original bottles, in some states it is required . Be sure to read the rules of each state you are traveling to, from or through which you are traveling, and take the necessary steps to comply with them.

But beyond the rules, clinical pharmacist Daniel Tavia, PharmD, recommends keeping all prescriptions in the bottle they were in when traveling.

“[The original container] has a description of the pill, quantity, date of filling, your address and full name, so it will be known that it is not a fake, ” Tavia told The Points Guy . “Also, if you store your medications in a pillbox or keychain, it would be best to fill the box as soon as you get to your destination so that you can be easily identified.”


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