If you have a vitamin deficiency or you simply make a habit of treating your body to an extra boost of nutrients, you probably plan on bringing your supplements with you on vacation. If you've misplaced the original packaging for the vitamins, you might be wondering if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow you to bring your unmarked pills on a plane.
According to the TSA, vitamins are allowed in checked bags and carry-ons, but local laws may differ from the TSA's regulations.
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How Much Can You Take?
As long as your vitamins are in pill or another solid form, such as gummy vitamins, the TSA allows you to bring an unlimited amount of them in your carry-on luggage or checked bags (although you should expect them to go through X-ray or visual screening at the security checkpoint).
You may be able to bring larger amounts of liquid vitamins on your flight, but only if they are medically necessary, according to the TSA. In general, "medically necessary" means you have a prescription for the vitamins or they qualify for the 3-1-1 liquids rule exemption:
- They're required during your flight and/or at your travel destination
- You're not able to purchase them at the airport (after security screening)
- They're not available at your travel destination
Keep in mind that, ultimately, the TSA agent has the final say about whether an item is allowed through the security checkpoint. If you're not sure your liquids will be allowed through, it's probably safest to pack them in your checked luggage instead.
Can You Take Unmarked Pills on a Plane?
Yes. According to TSA guidelines, pills do not need to be in prescription bottles or the original packaging.
Keep in mind, though, that there are individual state laws that determine if medication should be labeled. While these laws primarily are targeted toward prescription medications, there is a chance such laws could apply to vitamins. If you're unsure about your state's laws (or the state you're traveling to), contact a local pharmacy. If you're flying internationally, the rules are determined by the country you're flying out of rather than the TSA guidelines. Know before you go and check out local laws where you're traveling to make sure unmarked vitamins are accepted there.
How to Pack Vitamins for a Flight
If your vitamins are unmarked and you got rid of the original packaging, it's best to keep them contained and separate from the rest of your luggage. The easiest way to comply with TSA regulations and expedite security screening is to put all of the vitamins together in a clear zip-top plastic bag. If you want to keep all of your vitamins organized, you can put vitamins of the same type in sandwich-sized bags, then put all of the small bags inside one large, clear bag. To minimize confusion, the TSA encourages people to clearly label each bag with the name of the vitamins it contains.
When you reach the TSA checkpoint at the airport, you'll need to remove the bag of vitamins from your luggage so it can be screened separately from your other belongings. You have two screening options available to you — X-ray and visual screening. The fastest and most common screening method is an X-ray inspection. You'll take your bag or container of vitamins out of your luggage and place it in a screening bin, then it will go through the X-ray machine.
If you're uncomfortable with the X-ray process, you can speak with a TSA officer at the checkpoint and ask for a visual inspection of your vitamins. According to the TSA special procedures, if you request a visual inspection, a TSA officer will manually go through your vitamins to make sure they are not suspicious and pose no threat.
In either case, you may undergo additional screening procedures before getting though security. This could include a pat-down or screening of other carry-on items.