It would be very helpful if I could carry motion sickness pills, fever and cold antibiotic pills with me. I do not have fever or cold at the moment, but will very likely catch one due to sudden temperature changes. These medications are obtained over the counter here in India. Will these fall under restricted items by the US customs? I don't know their names, but these pills are usually non-sedating in nature.

  • 7
    You don't "catch" a cold or a fever simply due to changes in temperature. Colds are caused by viruses. Fevers are an immune response and can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics. Bacterial infections can be treated by antibiotics but these should always be prescribed, otherwise you are risking promotion of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Dec 30, 2014 at 2:54
  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/26089/…
    – Karlson
    Dec 31, 2014 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


I am in NZ and do not know the specific of US law, but I have little doubt that you are putting yourself at risk.

A number of medicines that can be obtained 'over the counter' in India would be illegal in NZ without a prescription, or at all. There is every reason to think that the same applies in the US. There is no reason not to check explicitly what applies re anything that you intend to carry. There are an ongoing number of foreigners spending time in foreign prisons or, in a few cases, waiting excecution, who claim complete innocence re what they were carrying. The US is not as draconian as India, but there are some things that can be freely bought in India that carry the death penalty in Singapore. In the US you may only face imprisonment.

While you say "cold antibiotic pills", the fact that there is no such thing demonstrates that your terminology and knowledge are inexact and that you run the risk of carrying "harmless" products that could cause you problems.

Pseudoephedrine based products, commonly used for "a runny nose" are used as precursors for methamphetamine production and can get you in major trouble with some administrations. Carry those undeclared into NZ and you would face instant eviction or prosecution.

Codeine based medicines can be problematic.

Unprescribed antibiotics are illegal in NZ - I do not know what applies in the US.

There is no reason not to investigate the specific rules applying in the US, and every reason to do so.

  • tell me more about the risks of having pseudoephedrine with you. I carry Sudafed at all times - I can't take antihistamines and when I catch a cold I take a decongestant. What would be the consequences of having 12 or so Sudafed with me in my carryon entering NZ for a few day stay? Dec 31, 2014 at 15:41
  • @KateGregory - It's now a prescription medicine here but most doctors will not prescribe it to avoid the trail of people turning up with "good reasons" to need it. I'd probably declare it 'just in case'. If it's in the original box / container and/or you have it on prescription you'd "probably" be OK not declaring it, but no guarantee. I usually carry a class 2 prescribed drug when I travel and have found customs officials are usually extremely good - I've never had it confiscated. I carry labelled container from the dispensing chemist and a medication list from my doctor.n Jan 1, 2015 at 10:26
  • There's no way to have a Sudafed prescription in the USA for the standard dose, as it is available without one, although only with identification and recorded purchase. I. too, travel with a decongestant because I've had problems with sinus infections after flights. Apr 13, 2018 at 21:51

Probably the pills will face no objection, if they are few in quantity and preferably in their original packaging. However, there is no reason to bring most of them (apart from the motion sickness pills perhaps), as they are readily available in the US at low cost.

  • However, antibiotics require a prescription in the US, which means you have to see a doctor, adding significantly to the cost and inconvenience. Dec 30, 2014 at 4:48
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    @NateEldredge: the OP has no actual need for antibiotics so should not be taking them anyway. :) Dec 30, 2014 at 5:04
  • Well, I'm not a doctor (at least, not that kind), and I'm definitely not the OP's doctor, so I figured I wasn't qualified to contradict him on that point. Dec 30, 2014 at 5:26
  • @JohnZwinck "no actual need" is such a strong term :-). As described, yes. And the reasons given are not what causes the need. However, when I travel internationally, as well as presecription medicines that I use regularly (too many, alas) I also carry a number to use "as required" - under remote supervision if needs. These may include anti-nausea, anti diarrhea, antibiotic-s , analgesics and more. These have proven extremely valuable on occasion. Most are presecription medicines and have been proscribed by NZ GP's or perhaps a "travel doctor". ... Apr 14, 2018 at 2:41
  • ... | Attempts to obtain an analgesic on one occasion in China resulted in prepackaged capsules with green unknown stuff in them sold by a "chemist". I did not take them. Subsequent deciphering of the label on return changed the description from 'unknown' to 'unknowable' - Chinese medicine products that did not match any of the things I asked for. In some locations I take 1 x low dose Doxycycline tablet a day. As well as being generally-antibiotic it is a standard antimalarial treatment. ... Apr 14, 2018 at 2:41

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