Do medications have to be in the original bottles?

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#1
84 Posts
Joined May 2010
Has anyone had any problems with non-prescription meds not being in the original bottles? We wanted to pack our vitamins for instance but just wanted to bring a weeks worth and not that huge bottle.

Thanks!
#2
5,323 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Originally posted by xray328
Has anyone had any problems with non-prescription meds not being in the original bottles? We wanted to pack our vitamins for instance but just wanted to bring a weeks worth and not that huge bottle.

Thanks!
I'd like to know the answer to this too. For my cruise last year my coworker said they had to be, but nobody ever checked, so I'm really unsure. I have some sample packs of my meds that i'd rather bring, since they are smaller/less weight/compact but if they'll be taken away from me, then I can't.
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#3
Coastal GA USA
21,190 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
If you are flying into or out of the country, I would say yes. Bring the bottle, but in it only what you will need so you can throw it away before you come home. If you are only flying domestically, I think not. For prescription meds, if mine are in a larger bottle, I go to the pharmacist and ask for a smaller bottle with prescription and label to put in just what I need. EM
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#4
84 Posts
Joined May 2010
Thanks for the replies. I just didn't want to get accused of buying some illegal drugs and trying to smuggle them home. Anyone watch that show "Locked Up Abroad"...Yikes!
#5
31 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
I would think the airport authorities can tell the difference between crack cocaine and calcium LOL Well I hope they do cause I am bringing mine in a baggie the calcium that is!
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#6
755 Posts
Joined May 2010
Take it from a woman who has flown into and out of 26 airports since 1991: The original bottle is not required to fly in the U.S. with prescription medications. If anybody needed the original bottle for a domestic flight, the TSA people were not doing their jobs right. It has been this way every time I traveled anywhere during the last 20 years: I fully loaded weekly pill boxes with seperate compartments for each does and a pocket-size pill box containing one dose. For my first cruise, I will fill all four pocket pill boxes to capacity. I know the OP did not ask about prescription drugs, but for anyone who cares, I never go anywhere with my prescriptions. With extra pills in my backpack that is not necessary when I travel. I would treat all nonprescription drugs the same way if I had to take them.
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#7
Israel
1,757 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by ActiveTraveler
Take it from a woman who has flown into and out of 26 airports since 1991: The original bottle is not required to fly in the U.S. with prescription medications. If anybody needed the original bottle for a domestic flight, the TSA people were not doing their jobs right. It has been this way every time I traveled anywhere during the last 20 years: I fully loaded weekly pill boxes with seperate compartments for each does and a pocket-size pill box containing one dose. For my first cruise, I will fill all four pocket pill boxes to capacity. I know the OP did not ask about prescription drugs, but for anyone who cares, I never go anywhere with my prescriptions. With extra pills in my backpack that is not necessary when I travel. I would treat all nonprescription drugs the same way if I had to take them.
Actually, many travelers (including me) have had very different experiences, especially in the past few years.

You can read all sorts of suggestions and opinions about traveling with meds on this thread:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...174&highlight=

HTH!

Ruth
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#9
Wisconsin
6,138 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
You can pack any nonessential meds..or vitamins..or supplements..however you want. If they are confiscated, being "non essential" will simply mean you won't have them for your trip.

Otherwise, any meds should be in their original bottles, prescription firmly attached..and you should carry copies of the prescriptions with you, in case you lose the meds.

Yes, I know that "TSA officials aren't doing their job" if they confiscate your vitamins. But -- do you really want to stand around and argue with them?? I don't. I just want to pass through security with as few hassles as possible, and get on with my vacation.

So go ahead, tell me that I go overboard -- but anything that looks like it could be a med is in it's original bottle. If it's an over-the-counter thing, I buy the smallest available container, and keep it in that bottle. Any prescriptions are in their original containers, with back-up copies of the prescriptions available. And I always take more than just the number I'll need for the cruise, to account for any delays (on our last vacation we ended up having to stay 5 days longer than anticipated -- volcano in Iceland -- so having my meds with me meant I didn't have to run around in a foreign country trying to find substitutes, and arranging international confirmation of what I needed.).
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#10
Georgia
6,268 Posts
Joined May 2000
The TSA website states that medications do not have to be in original containers. Therefore it seems okay to have your pills in the daily dose containers.
#11
Israel
1,757 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by Marie51
The TSA website states that medications do not have to be in original containers. Therefore it seems okay to have your pills in the daily dose containers.
Yes, but many TSA agents are more diligent than just 'going by what's in the book' (I'm probably one of the few people who welcome that extra diligence ) . And, as uppitycats pointed out: Do you really want to stand around and argue with them? In any case, it's always wise to have some proof/evidence of what the pills actually are- whether it's a copy of the original prescription, or a label on the bottle.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you check this thread on this subject
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...174&highlight= you'll find that many people have run into that extra vigilance on their travels.

And- if you are flying internationally, then when you enter (or re-enter) the US, you have to go thru immigration and customs- and their rules are definitely more 'strict' than those of the TSA.
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#12
Coastal GA USA
21,190 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Originally posted by Marie51
The TSA website states that medications do not have to be in original containers. Therefore it seems okay to have your pills in the daily dose containers.
It is more likely that crossing borders in foreign countries they would question 'pills', whether they are controlled substances, etc. 'Tis better to be safe than without necessary meds. EM
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#13
Israel
1,757 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by Essiesmom
It is more likely that crossing borders in foreign countries they would question 'pills', whether they are controlled substances, etc. 'Tis better to be safe than without necessary meds. EM
EXCELLENT point! I also double check to make sure each container my meds are in (and vitamins, too) include the generic name on the label.

As far as over the counter meds or vitamins, I only travel with small, still sealed bottles. (Yes, I toss each open one before I go on to the next country.) I prefer to travel as hassle and fret free as possible.

(One of the plusses of the way meds are packaged here - each pill is in its own 'bubble' in a foil strip which is printed with both its commercial and generic name- is that no matter which country I'm about to enter, I'm reasonably confident that security/immigration will believe that the pills are what I claim.)
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#14
13,129 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Originally posted by ActiveTraveler
Take it from a woman who has flown into and out of 26 airports since 1991: The original bottle is not required to fly in the U.S. with prescription medications. If anybody needed the original bottle for a domestic flight, the TSA people were not doing their jobs right. It has been this way every time I traveled anywhere during the last 20 years: I fully loaded weekly pill boxes with seperate compartments for each does and a pocket-size pill box containing one dose. For my first cruise, I will fill all four pocket pill boxes to capacity. I know the OP did not ask about prescription drugs, but for anyone who cares, I never go anywhere with my prescriptions. With extra pills in my backpack that is not necessary when I travel. I would treat all nonprescription drugs the same way if I had to take them.
You have been lucky so far. My husband flies over 100,000 miles a year for business and has been stopped multiple times at TSA checkpoints and had his med bag checked. He always has all pills in their original containers and other than a minor inconvenience of waiting as they read all the labels, he has been allowed through and made his flights. Whether the TSA person is doing their job "right" is irrelevant, if they want you to miss your flight, they can make it happen very easily.
#15
Aiken, S.C.
460 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
We have been on 15 cruises in the past 5 years, always carry the meds. same as at home in a pill container labeled for each day. We have flown to Europe, cruised all over the Caribean and never once has anyone questioned what was in the pill containers. The only one I know who was stopped was my brother when he went to Saudi and again when he returned.
#16
Israel
1,757 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by aikensbest
We have been on 15 cruises in the past 5 years, always carry the meds. same as at home in a pill container labeled for each day. We have flown to Europe, cruised all over the Caribean and never once has anyone questioned what was in the pill containers. The only one I know who was stopped was my brother when he went to Saudi and again when he returned.
Yes, many people do not have problems, but it's best to be cautious in case you are one of those whose medications are questioned (and, you do know someone who was stopped). You could have been questioned when entering Europe, but as it's likely you left your pills in your stateroom while cruising the Caribbean, then the only time you might have been in a situation that could have involved questioning on those trips would have been at your final disembarkation (and it sounds like your pill containers were probably empty at that point).

Here's part of what I wrote on the other thread:

"I was on the road for over two months last fall to several countries, including entering and leaving the US a few times. I had packed all my meds and vitamins in an insulated bag in my carry on.

There must have been a half dozen times when at the TSA (or similar) check I had to open my carry on, take out and open that med bag, and show them each individual prescription. I also had to explain why I was carrying so much medication with me- one time I even had to show them all my airline tickets to prove that the medicine was for my own personal use."


So, as several of us have been saying- you may have never had a problem, but we'd add the word 'yet' to that, and suggest it's better to be safe than sorry.
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#17
Kansas
1,100 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Never had a problem with my meds out of their original bottle, but that's just my personal experience.
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#18
Virginia
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Joined Feb 2009
There are several threads on this topic, but my personal opinion is that you don't have to have the original bottles...carrying a print out of the Rx is a great idea...TSA does not require the original bottle though of course they may ask you about pills you have with you. I have flown all over the world and never had an issue with having my medication out of the bottles...again, just my opinion. In another thread here there are some links that talk about taking an Rx that is a narcotic...in that case I would take the original bottle, but I wouldn't for vitamins or even the Rx I take. It's really up to you and what you feel comfortable with, but I can tell you I have researched it recently after so many posts on the subject and wanting to make sure I wasn't doing anything illegal, and I can't find a single thing that says they have to be in their original bottles (other than narcotics). If you are going to a specific country, I would definitely research for yourself any laws for that particular place.
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#19
Hoschton, Georgia
446 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
DH and I have travelled all over the world both by air and cruises. I usualy put both my RX meds and OTC meds/vitamins in pill holders. I don't carry a separate "med bag"- they are usually just in my purse or carryon. I have never been stopped or questionned even when I had narcotic pain meds. Last cruise since we were flying into Buenos aires, I decided to put my RX meds into their original containers. Again- was never stopped or questionned. I know guide books and conventional wisdom say to carry meds in their original containers but unless the TSA or security is a pharmacist, they would not know a BP pill from a narcotic if you decided to put a narcotic into a BP bottle to "fool" them.
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#20
17,430 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Originally posted by R122268
DH and I have travelled all over the world both by air and cruises. I usualy put both my RX meds and OTC meds/vitamins in pill holders. I don't carry a separate "med bag"- they are usually just in my purse or carryon. I have never been stopped or questionned even when I had narcotic pain meds. Last cruise since we were flying into Buenos aires, I decided to put my RX meds into their original containers. Again- was never stopped or questionned. I know guide books and conventional wisdom say to carry meds in their original containers but unless the TSA or security is a pharmacist, they would not know a BP pill from a narcotic if you decided to put a narcotic into a BP bottle to "fool" them.
No pharmacy degree needed. Many pharmacies use a label on the bottle that identifies the unique code/description that is imprinted on the pill or capsule. In that case all one has to do is match the label to the contents of the bottle. Even if a label does not display that information, if they are at all suspicious they merely have to look up the code on the pill or capsule to find out what it is. That information is readily available in printed form and on the Internet.