Most people take different medications when they travel. In the past, carrying medicines while traveling was not much of a hassle. It was not uncommon to find people traveling with sleep medications, painkillers, and pills for nausea, diarrhea, migraine, high blood pressure and diabetes in their carry-on luggage. For the most part, the officers at the airport just let things slide.
However, the world has changed a lot in the past two decades, and the growing epidemic of drug abuse and drug trafficking now affects travelers.
Today, any person who is planning to travel needs to be better prepared or risk having their medications confiscated by the authorities. Not only can one face difficulties while traveling with prescription medication within the US, but also some sleeping pills, cold medications, pain pills and anti-allergy medications are illegal in certain countries.
Two countries with very rigid laws on medications on travelers are Japan and the United Arab Emirates. These two countries have a total ban on travelers bringing in sedatives, common cold medications and any type of pain pill. The majority of travelers will not have a problem if they are carrying one prescription pills for personal use but if you take a jar full of codeine or tramadol for your joint pain, not only will the medication be confiscated but you may be arrested, incarcerated, fined or even deported. In Indonesia with its very severe drug laws, any type of opiate pill, even if legally prescribed, is viewed seriously.
Here are some tips on how you can travel with your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications legally:
- Plan ahead and know the rules of the country.
- Go and see your physician and ask him or her to write a letter indicating what you are taking and why.
- The letter should state how long the medications will be needed.
- Call the embassy of the country where you plan to go and ask them about the rules of traveling with medications. Most travel agents will also have some information on traveling with prescription medications.
- When you travel with medications, make sure they are in the original labeled container. Do not attempt to hide them and always declare on the form if it asks for drugs that you are carrying. Most people get into trouble because they carry prescription medications in plastic bags without labels and then make no mention about them on the form.
- Check on the TSA website for the latest rules on packing and carrying medications. Liquid medications are exempt from the TSA ban on liquids.
It is very important that you carry a letter from the doctor or the pharmacist about the medications you are taking and have the name and phone number of this professional healthcare worker handy just in case. One can never be too safe in today’s highly monitored traveling environment.