For a 3 week trip from the US to the UK and Ireland, can medications be in pill boxes? There are no DEA controlled substances.

Most references to traveling with medication says that original containers are required. Is that true?

  • 2
    If they are not in their original containers, how will border officials know they are not controlled substances? Saying "It's OK they are not controlled substances" isn't going to cut it. Apr 5, 2023 at 16:43
  • @WeatherVane Conversely, what's to stop somebody from replacing the drugs in a container with something else? The answer to both is there's pictorial pill ID guides, the agent's knowledge of the markings of common restricted drugs, and testing methods like wipe-down ion mobility spectrometers.
    – user71659
    Apr 6, 2023 at 20:25
  • @user71659 in UK prescription drugs are usually supplied in sealed pop-out blisters, not in bottles, as other pills like vitamins are. Apr 6, 2023 at 20:26
  • @WeatherVane The OP is from the US where medication is dispensed in bottles, so that would be irrelevant if they were swapped or not.
    – user71659
    Apr 6, 2023 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


There are no DEA controlled substances.

Please check this for the UK and this for Ireland

The US Embassy in the UK states :

If you have a pre-existing condition, we recommend that you carry a letter from your physician listing the diagnosis and any medicine you take, including the generic names of prescribed drugs. Medications should be left in their original containers and clearly labelled.

The US Embassy in Ireland has an even more categorical wording :

Carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. Also, carry a list of your medical history and all medications you are taking (including dosage and brand-name). Such lists will save Irish medical staff a lot of time, in the case that you are admitted to an Irish hospital during your vacation.

Leaving them in the original container is a near fool-proof way to be prevent being stopped/delayed at the border while they wonder what those pills are.

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