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Travel Tips

What you need to know about traveling abroad with medications

 Most travelers plan on bringing some sort of medication(s) when they go abroad. Whether you need to take prescription medications or simply want to carry your vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter cold medication, it’s important to know the rules about taking these substances into the country you are visiting. This should be done well in advance, in case substitutions or dosing adjustments need to be made. 

Sources of information include the embassy of your destination country (the State Department website lists contact information for foreign embassies in the United States), travel medical insurance companies, travel clinics that specialize in immunizations etc. for travel abroad, or even your physician or pharmacist.

Know the generic and chemical names, along with the amounts of all active ingredients in each medication or supplement as it is the active ingredients that determine permissibility, not brand names.

Carry all medications, vitamins, and supplements in their original, clearly marked container if possible. Keep copies of your original or reprinted prescriptions or even get a formal note from your physician on his or her official letterhead. If possible, have this information translated into the language of the country you are visiting to ensure clarity.

Don’t forget about specialized equipment used to administer medications, such as an EpiPen, as some countries require documentation for those items as well.

Finally, be sure to check the Transportation Security Administration website for up-to-date rules on packing and carrying medications through U.S. airports. The standard rules for liquid carry-ons and powders don’t apply to medications but you do need to inform the TSA screeners and have proper documentation when you pass through security, so the items are not confiscated.

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