I just need to fly from Thailand to America and am considering using Qatar Airways. I know the word controlled substance sounds like a bad word so let me just explain in more detail. I have some sleep medicine, just about 4 pills of Lunasta with the prescription on a bottle that is my brother's (same last name). I also bought some Valium (about 4-6 pills) in Thailand that is in it's original packaging, no prescription. These pill woulds be on me, not in checked luggage.

I fly coach only and I plan on using this sleeping medicine to make the 26 hour journey not a sleepless one. I've got a bag of medicine I travel with that has other stuff in it too that would be in checked luggage. Stuff that is not a scheduled control substance but does require a prescription in some countries like ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine. And a lot of allergy medicines. Some with my name on them as a prescription and others not.

My wife suffers from migraines and since we are in Thailand I would like her to go ahead and get a prescription for pain medicines (narcotics) for that in case she has an episode in America. It would be a prescription for about a week's worth of medicine.

Questions/concerns: Will my stuff be confiscated? Will I go to jail? I've heard of the story where there was a young man who had some trace amount of weed in his shoe lace and was put into jail... My alternative is to fly through Japan but it costs about 300-400 dollars more that way for 2 people..

edit: and when I say narcotics, I mean clinical narcotics, like vicoden and tramadol. Not like street drugs... that word has some different interpretation.

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    Japan is not necessarily going to be easier. "Japanese customs officials have detained travelers carrying prohibited items, sometimes for several weeks" (from the US Embassy site). Narcotics are prohibited, even with a prescription unless an application is made weeks in advance and approved. Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


You're probably OK, but I'd still skip the narcotics and anything you don't have a prescription for.

All the Gulf states, including Qatar, enforce very strict drug controls. Qatar has a list of all drugs you're allowed to bring into the country, and if it's not on there, you can't bring it in even with a prescription. However...

You're not actually entering Qatar, you're just passing through in transit, which means you're not going to pass through Customs. Now, there may be a random check of incoming passengers at the gate, but these are rare, and if you have a prescription, aren't entering the country and only have personal use quantities, they are highly unlikely to care.

Also, while it's not the focus of your question, I'd be very, very careful about importing narcotics to the US. If at all possible, you'd probably be better off getting a prescription and buying them in the US after you've arrive.

  • So I checked the list. Valium and Tramadol are on that list. I think I'm going to bring my big bag of medicines (allergy pills, stomach pills, etc). And like 1 small prescription for Valium. The only thing I can see going wrong is a bunch of different cold medicines in tablet form (which are not controlled substances) being a problem/holding me up/getting detained for it until they determine if they are legal or not.
    – Zombies
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:31

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