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I am travelling to the US next week and taking some over-the-counter painkillers with me. These are a combined tablet that contains paracetamol and Ibuprofen together.

Do I need to declare these?

  • 6
    Both paracetamol (known as acetaminophen in the US) and ibuprofen are very common painkillers in the US, and are available over-the-counter. You may as well purchase them when you get there. (Also note that paracetamol tablets can come in lower dosages in the US compared to other places - 325 mg vs 500 mg) – k2moo4 Aug 28 '18 at 11:03
  • Presumably a quantity for personal use, not a suitcaseful? (but anyway it's theoretically impossible to 'traffic' paracetamol, since the US is knee-deep in it) – smci Aug 28 '18 at 20:07
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https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/prohibited-and-restricted-items doesn't list those substances as prohibited or restricted. Furthermore it would depend if there are additional substances in that medication, which would be "potentially addictive" (although i doubt that for OTC medication). On the other hand, https://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm194904.htm specifies more strict rules for importing medications. Honestly, i would look if your medication would be available in the US and then just buy it there. If you really need to bring it, then i would follow the suggestions on both sites to have a doctors note, as well as declare it at immigration, just to be safe.

  • "which would be "potentially addictive" (although i doubt that for OTC medication)" Ibuprofen, a common OTC drug, is potentially addictive. I've seen it happen. – Mast Aug 28 '18 at 16:41
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You should absolutely declare them. It doesn't look like you need to, but it's always safest if you do. The worst case scenario with these pills is that they might be seized by Customs, but if that happens, you won't be in any trouble. On the other hand, if you don't declare them and they're discovered, they'll be seized and you could be refused admittance into the US.

The good rule of thumb is always to declare if in doubt.

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    Can you provide a citation for that? Sounds like a total waste of time. I have never heard of anyone doing this for OTC medication for personal use. – smci Aug 28 '18 at 20:08
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    Clearly I mean "OTC in the US". Sure, if in doubt, declare. But declaring a packet of Tylenol would just be timewasting. – smci Aug 28 '18 at 20:24
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    @smci It is only a waste of time if there is zero - ZERO - chance you are wrong about it being allowed. I declare lots of stuff. No one ever has given me grief or made me feel I was wasting their time. Doesn’t take long. – Jim MacKenzie Aug 28 '18 at 20:25
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    @smci One other point I forgot to make - while these substances are OTC, they are only OTC up to certain dosages. Unless you know the total amount of the active ingredient in each tablet (and any other medicinal ingredients), you can't be assured they're OTC just because the active ingredients are available OTC. e.g. naproxen sodium is OTC in Canada up to 220 mg/tablet, but 500 mg tablets are available only by prescription. – Jim MacKenzie Aug 28 '18 at 21:39
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    @JimMacKenzie Which is silly since you could just take 2 tablets, but can confirm that it is so. – Spehro Pefhany Aug 28 '18 at 22:37

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