My mother is going to the USA in autumn by plane. Unfortunately she is dependent on medicals that contain an opium derivate. In many countries it is sufficient to bring a declaration of her doctor in English language that she owns and uses the opiates legally. She traveled a lot and never got any problem.

The homepage of the German US embassy states that:

  • Medication should be transported in the original packaging
  • Only the necessary amount of medication should be brought
  • A prescription of a doctor - addressed to a CBP Officer - is required

Since the US is very strict on entry requirements, I'd like to know:

  • What else to consider when taking opiates to the US by plane?
  • Are there any other possible difficulties to expect when following the above guideline?

(In case it does matter, she will fly with Lufthansa from Frankfurt Main / Germany (FRA) --- San Francisco / USA (SFO))

  • 2
    What's the specific drug? Some opiates are completely banned in the US and cannot be possessed even with a prescription. fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/legislation/ucm148726.htm Jul 13, 2016 at 21:35
  • @NateEldredge Thanks for the link! Does that mean that the opiates listed under Part B - Opiates and Opiate derivatives are completely banned or that a prescription is needed to import them?
    – user937284
    Jul 14, 2016 at 8:40
  • 1
    I'm not sure where on that page you're looking. Schedule I is the list of completely banned drugs. The others are generally usable by prescription. Jul 14, 2016 at 11:58
  • @NateEldredge Okay, got it. Thx
    – user937284
    Jul 20, 2016 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


According to US Customs and Border Protection, you don't need "a prescription of a doctor addressed to a CBP officer" if the medicine is in its original packaging with the prescription information printed on the packaging:

Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. 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 doctors note is required on all medication entering the U.S.

In the US, the prescription information is typically affixed to the packaging with a self-adhesive label, so such a label ought to be fine; it is unlikely that anyone would require the information to be printed literally and directly on the container.

  • Thanks for your answer! In this special case it is a liquid in a simple brown little bottle with a handwritten label. You often find this in Germany when your drug is being produced/mixed by the drug store staff. Additionally you have a prescription from your doctor.
    – user937284
    Jul 13, 2016 at 21:49
  • 2
    Then bringing the prescription along with the hand-labeled bottle should be enough, but it would be more certain to be acceptable if she had a letter from the doctor or pharmacist that also explained that the medicine was prepared by hand.
    – phoog
    Jul 13, 2016 at 21:55
  • Sounds like a good advise. Thank you very much.
    – user937284
    Jul 13, 2016 at 21:57

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