I will be travelling to the USA, and I will need to take with me roughly two months' worth of antibiotics for my medical condition -- all in blisters, no liquids or aerosols. I do have a prescription from my medic, but it's in Romanian. While the prescription does clearly show my name and the medicine that I am taking, I am not sure whether I need (or whether it's even helpful at all) to have the prescription translated. This is my first time flying to the US and I'm not really sure what to expect.

Can you let me know whether I need to have the prescription translated, and whether it's better to take the medicine in my carry on or checked luggage?

2 Answers 2


In my experience flying to the US (about 25 times in the last 10 years), I never once was asked to prove anything related to the medication. I had brought prescription antibiotics with me before, on one or two trips - and wasn't even asked anything at all. They were also in blister packs, all in my hand luggage.

I had more questions asked in Australia when I flew into Sydney with a broken arm and a pack of paracetamol for my pain than I had about prescription medications in the USA.

That said, the only cities in the US that I have flown in were New York (JFK and EWR), Boston (BOS) and Philadelphia (PHL). Situation in other airports may be different, but I do believe that you will be ok with a Romanian prescription.

What is more important is that the label on the actual medication matches your name, rather than the actual prescription. Yet, even that may be irrelevant as you are rather unlikely to be asked to even show them.

  • 1
    well, the problem is that the label on the medication can't match my name because there are no names written on medicine in Romania, as opposed to other countries (intellectualconversation.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/…). Could this be a problem? Jul 3, 2014 at 14:40
  • 1
    @GabiPurcaru I don't think that should be a problem. If the brand/type of the medication on the packaging matches that on the prescription, that should be sufficient. Plus, as I mentioned, most likely you won't even have to deal with this question at all.
    – Aleks G
    Jul 3, 2014 at 14:42
  • I think a young person will be more likely to face this sort of inspection. They can, and do, profile people at border crossings. Age and circumstance (athletes on routine visits may receive less scrutiny than musicians, say). Jul 3, 2014 at 15:04
  • The situation in other airports in the USA shouldn't be different from what you experienced at those four. Border security is a federal matter so it's dealt with by the central government, not at state or any other lower level. Jul 3, 2014 at 16:21
  • @DavidRicherby I understand that, of course. However depending on how busy an airport is, the agents may spend more or less time on certain matters. The four airports I have flown in are all pretty busy.
    – Aleks G
    Jul 3, 2014 at 16:39

The US Customs and Border Protection branch of the Department of Homeland Security has a Prohibited and Restricted Items page. About half way down it discusses Medications. As link-only answers are frowned upon (due to stale links for one thing), I have reproduced the relevant section here:


Rule of thumb: When you go abroad, take the medicines you will need, no more, no less. Narcotics and certain other drugs with a high potential for abuse - Rohypnol, GHB and Fen-Phen, to name a few - may not be brought into the United States, and there are severe penalties for trying to do so. If you need medicines that contain potentially addictive drugs or narcotics (e.g., some cough medicines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants or stimulants), do the following:

• Declare all drugs, medicinals, and similar products to the appropriate CBP official;
• Carry such substances in their original containers;
• Carry only the quantity of such substances that a person with that condition (e.g., chronic pain) would normally carry for his/her personal use; and
• Carry a prescription or written statement from your physician that the substances are being used under a doctor's supervision and that they are necessary for your physical well being while traveling.

U.S. residents entering the United States at international land borders who are carrying a validly obtained controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD), are subject to certain additional requirements. If a U.S. resident wants to bring in a controlled substance (other than narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or LSD) but does not have a prescription for the substance issued by a U.S.-licensed practitioner (e.g., physician, dentist, etc.) who is registered with, and authorized by, the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe the medication, the individual may not import more than 50 dosage units of the medication into the United States. If the U.S. resident has a prescription for the controlled substance issued by a DEA registrant, more than 50 dosage units may be imported by that person, provided all other legal requirements are met.

Please note that only medications that can be legally prescribed in the United States may be imported for personal use. Be aware that possession of certain substances may also violate state laws. As a general rule, the FDA does not allow the importation of prescription drugs that were purchased outside the United States. Please see their Web site for information about the enforcement policy for personal use quantities.

Warning: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits the importation, by mail or in person, of fraudulent prescription and nonprescription drugs and medical devices. These include unorthodox "cures" for such medical conditions as cancer, AIDS, arthritis or multiple sclerosis. Although such drugs or devices may be legal elsewhere, if the FDA has not approved them for use in the United States, they may not legally enter the country and will be confiscated, even if they were obtained under a foreign physician's prescription.

Additional information about traveling with and importing medication can be found at the FDA's Drugs page.

The FDA is responsible for pharmaceutical admissibility determinations. If you have any questions as to whether a specific pharmaceutical may be imported into the United States, please contact the FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, at +1-301-796-0356.

If you have any questions regarding the importation of a controlled substance into the United States, please contact the Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control, International Drug Unit, at +1-202-305-8800.

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