Traveling with prescription drugs doesn’t have to be a chore, but it does require a bit of thought before you pack them. Generally speaking, you’re allowed to fly with prescribed medicine in either your checked baggage or your carry-on, as long as you follow the regulations set forth by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Do your homework on these regulations and how they apply to your medication before hopping on that plane.

Quick Facts for Packing Medication

In nearly all cases, travelers should be able to fly with their prescription medications without a problem. Keep the following guidelines in mind before embarking on your next travel adventure:

  • You don’t have to notify a TSA officer about your medication unless it’s a liquid.
  • If your medication is a liquid, you may pack it in a carry-on in excess of 3.4 ounces (which otherwise isn’t permitted, thanks to the TSA’s 3-1-1- rule) as long as it’s “in reasonable quantities for the flight.”
  • You don’t have to pack your liquid medications in a zip-top bag.
  • You must let a TSA officer know if you’re traveling with medically necessary liquids at the beginning of your security screening and have those liquids screened separately.
  • If you’re traveling with medication in pill or solid form, you can bring it in any quantities as long as it undergoes screening.
  • You don’t have to keep your prescribed medication in a prescription bottle, per TSA regulations.
  • If you don’t want your medication to be X-rayed, let your TSA agent know at the beginning of the security screening process, and it will receive an inspection instead.

You might have to keep your medically necessary liquids cool, in which case TSA permits you to travel with ice packs, freezer packs or gel packs. However, make sure to present these items at the security screening in a frozen or partially frozen state, and be ready for them to undergo additional screening.

Traveling With Controlled Substances

Even though the TSA doesn’t mandate that travelers keep their prescription medicines in prescription bottles, your travel destination may have different regulations. Regulations on traveling with controlled substances vary between the U.S. States and other countries, so do your research before you pack. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can provide information on the rules for traveling with controlled substances between travel destinations.

Generally speaking, narcotics and psychotropics present the most complications when traveling with controlled substances. Though these substances are used to treat certain mental disorders, they also have the potential for abuse. However, travelers who are flying with these substances as prescribed are usually permitted to carry them for personal use for up to one month; for narcotic substances, travelers should have a letter or prescription from their doctor.