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I will soon be traveling to the US (New York) from the UK for a two week trip. I have a prescription for Sertraline (Zoloft) that I will need to take with me. I have the original prescription documents and packaging. Should I expect any delays or issues at customs and what's the best practice to avoid this?

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    Astonishingly we don't seem to have a duplicate of this. May 13 at 14:14
  • @DJClayworth I thought travel.stackexchange.com/questions/31372/… covered the subject, although it was a different drug (still not a controlled substance) and had no response to the OP's query about experience. May 13 at 14:56
  • Suicide & antidepressants The FDA requires all antidepressants, including sertraline, to carry a boxed warning stating that antidepressants increase the risk of suicide in persons younger than 25 years. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sertraline#Suicide
    – Milla
    May 14 at 14:05
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    @Milla Customs is not going to enforce something like that for medication bought in by a bona fide traveler for personal use.
    – Doc
    May 14 at 17:15

2 Answers 2

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US immigration/customs does not routinely ask about what medication you may be travelling with, nor do the routinely search bags on arrival.

Thus it is most likely carrying this medication will have zero impact on your entry to the US, and will not cause any delays in any form.

In the unlikely event you are asked, then you should answer honestly. Zoloft is a common medication in the US, and whilst it is a prescription medication it is NOT listed under the Controlled Substances Act (which generally contains drugs which are deemed to have the potential for abuse) and thus it's unlikely that customs is going to be at all interested in it.

The US Customs and Border Protection websites has details on what is required when travelling with prescription medications, but they are things that you have already stated you planning to do, along with the recommendation not to bring more than a 90 days supply (although this can depend on the length of your planned stay in the US).

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Here is an article from the US Customs and Border patrol giving the basic facts about bringing prescription drugs.

The main points are:

  • Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container.
  • Bring only enough for personal use - a maximum of 90 days supply is recommended.
  • If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor.
  • A valid prescription or doctor's note is required on all medication entering the United States.

The page contains links to further information.

In general having prescription medicines will not cause any issues, as long as the guidelines are followed.

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    Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container Out of curiosity, what does this look like? In Europe, we have paper boxes in which there is either a bottle or a sheet of sealed single capsules. The prescriptions are always separate. I saw that in the US you get refills (which is great because people do not get more medicine than they need, no waste) but how is there space for something from the MD, and how does it get there?
    – WoJ
    May 14 at 19:08
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    My prescription comes in a small plastic jar with a childproof lid and a sticker on it. The sticker has my name, the name and address of the pharmacy, medicine name, dosage and instructions, and a reference number. May 14 at 19:21
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    Ah, I get it now - when it says with the doctor's prescription printed on the container it means that what the doctor wrote in his prescription is written as part of th label. I was trying to imagine the original prescription being on the label :)
    – WoJ
    May 14 at 20:03
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    @WoJ stock photo example: media.istockphoto.com/photos/…
    – hobbs
    May 14 at 20:04
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    note how this US style label also contains your name as the authorized recipient, in addition to the drug information -- all this should match up with reality
    – Mike M
    May 15 at 13:46

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