Owing to circumstantial practicalities I will be taking a commercial flight to the USA sometime next month. Accordingly, I will transit at the main border control (I already know what to do when travelling private craft). I will be carrying some prescription medicine which is heavily regulated in the UK and is listed in Schedule IV of the DEA's Drug Scheduling page. But maddeningly, they don't tell you what to do.

There is another drug which is also heavily regulated in the UK and I suspect it is similarly controlled in the USA, but I cannot find it on the above link. It is probably listed under a different name. "Heavily regulated" in this sense means they are explicitly controlled and require a GP's sign off each and every time and you can only get a 30 day supply after which the GP has to sign off again. I am also reliably informed that both drugs have a street value of GBP 20 per capsule. There is also another in the same category, but has a much higher street value (because it is more difficult to obtain, but I do not believe it is an opiate).

I don't need to be specific about their names because the same drugs use different names depending upon whichever provider the Trust is working with at the moment.

I have been trying to find out what the correct course of action is. I am not interested in answers that say I should use deception by silence because I like to play things strictly by the book. If it means I have to fill out some forms or follow the 'red queue' or whatever, that's fine. If it means I cannot bring them that could be a problem because I plan to stay more than a day or so.

I have read (and up voted) 'phoog's' great answer: Taking opiates to the US and my stuff is not necessarily an opiate hence this is not a duplicate question.

Question: what do you need to do if you are transiting the main control point and you have a drug on "Schedule IV" and two more that you don't know where they fit in?

Secondarily: if a given drug is totally forbidden, I assume you have to bring a substitute, please confirm. And will I have to visit the GP and pay the requisite GBP 30 to get a personalised letter?

I will be using my American passport if that makes any difference at all.

  • 1
    As to your last question: AFAIK Obamacare has nothing to do with travel, immigration or customs. The only sort of "declaration" I can think of involves making a statement about your coverage on your income tax returns. As a US citizen, presumably you have been filing those all along and already know about this. If not, then Money.SE would be the place to ask. Aug 15, 2017 at 15:56
  • OK I deleted it, but I still want to know...
    – Gayot Fow
    Aug 15, 2017 at 15:57
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    I don't know whether you have already seen cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/… (click the "medication" tab). It mentions a doctor's note and a limit of 50 "dosage units" (i.e. pills). Aug 15, 2017 at 16:06
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    See the section "personal medical use excemption" near the bottom of this page, which has links to the 2 other pages. The 2nd link is the one you want, I think.
    – mkennedy
    Aug 15, 2017 at 18:58
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    It helps for them to be in the chemist provided containers preferably with current perscription data on the label, don't repackage into bags or other containers. Aug 15, 2017 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


I'm not a lawyer, not qualified to give legal advice, etc.

The importation of scheduled substances into the US is generally extremely difficult. However, under Title 21 USC §1301.26, as a traveler, you may bring in a schedule IV controlled substance for personal medical use provided:

(a) The controlled substance is in the original container in which it was dispensed to the individual; and

(b) The individual makes a declaration to an appropriate customs officer stating:

(1) That the controlled substance is possessed for his/her personal use, or for an animal accompanying him/her; and

(2) The trade or chemical name and the symbol designating the schedule of the controlled substance if it appears on the container label, or, if such name does not appear on the label, the name and address of the pharmacy or practitioner who dispensed the substance and the prescription number.

So basically just declare this substance to the appropriate customs officer, and you're fine. I am assuming here that, although you're a US citizen, you're not resident in the US, because for residents (regardless of citizenship), slightly different rules apply.

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