I'm planning to travel in USA with antidepressant, and according to this page on the FDA website, I need to bring a copy of English prescription with me.

However, I live in China, and it seems translating (and notarizing) prescription needs more time than I have. So is it possible to going through the border inspection with Chinese prescription, or some sort of informal English notes from a doctor?

  • While the FDA website does say that, on the Customs and Border Protection website is says, "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."
    – andrewmh20
    Jun 26, 2017 at 3:23
  • How much are you bringing? What is its schedule status in USA (google the medicine name and look for "schedule" tag). Some medicine cannot be brought into USA at all; some would require jumping through hoops, and some is ok to bring as-is assuming it is for personal use.
    – George Y.
    Jun 26, 2017 at 8:23
  • I am quite sure that CBP would have resources that can translate the prescription. As long as the medicine itself is sealed and clearly marked, I don't think you will have an issue. Jun 26, 2017 at 8:42

1 Answer 1


According to your Food and Drug Administration link, you do not need both the prescription and the note translated into English, one or the other should suffice (added emphasis mine):

In general, you should have with you a valid prescription OR doctor’s note—written in English—to bring medication to the U.S. The medication should be in its original container with the doctor’s instructions printed on the bottle. If you don’t have the original container, bring a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor explaining your condition and why you need this medication. Travel with no more than you need for your personal use during your stay. A rule of thumb: Bring no more than a 90-day supply of medication.

Go with your plan to bring a note, written in English, from your physician, and have it include the generic name of the medication. Without knowing what drug it is, antidepressants are generally Schedule IV, which are non-narcotic controlled substances in the US. These, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, can be brought into the US when they are for your personal, medical use.

Unless a medication is prescribed by a physician and the quantify carried is reasonable (coinciding with the travel plans), US customs can confiscate substances which it cannot confirm are not narcotics.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .