Prescription medicine rules for airplane travel

Written by emma watkins
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Prescription medicine rules for airplane travel
Prescription medicine is allowed in carry-on luggage. (valigia sul ponte della nave image by Adriano La Naia from

On September 25, 2006, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the U. S. agency that oversees security at American airports, issued a letter to explain its policy on the transport of non-solid prescription drugs. The agency designed the rules to make air travel safe by minimising the risk of terrorist attacks while also respecting the needs of passengers with health conditions.

Types of Medicine

The TSA lets travellers carry into the plane any prescription medication regardless of its form: Passengers are allowed to travel with aerosols, liquids and gels as well as solid pills. In addition, any liquid they may need along with their drugs can go in their carry-on luggage.


While the TSA doesn't limit how much of any medication travellers can take on the aeroplane, it determines what people need to do depending on the quantity of non-solid drugs they are carrying. If a person has 88.7ml. or less of liquid medication, he can put the bottle in a one-quart clear plastic bag either by itself or with other similarly sized items. At the airport security checkpoint, he does not have to declare the medications.

If a traveller has more than 88.7ml. of prescription medicine in one single bottle, she shouldn't put it in a plastic bag. Instead, TSA requires that she keep it separate and declare the medicine she is carrying to a Transportation Security Officer. A declaration can be made verbally or in writing. A person can also have a representative make the declaration in their name.


While travellers are not required to travel with a doctor's statement confirming their medical condition and medicine needs, the TSA encourages people to do so. Besides, the agency recommends (but doesn't make it mandatory) that the label on the prescription drugs matches the name on the boarding pass. If the names are different, a Transportation Security Officer may ask the traveller to to explain the reason.

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