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Rules for Carrying Medicinal Pills or Vitamins in Your Carry-on Luggage

Rules for Carrying Medicinal Pills or Vitamins in Your Carry-on Luggage
A bottle of prescription pills on its side spilling. Photo Credit: Matthew Jones/iStock/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) makes it easy for travelers to carry medications and vitamins in their carry-on luggage -- especially if that medication is in pill form. In fact, it's smart to take medication on board with you, in case your checked luggage doesn't make it onto your flight. To ensure the security screening at the airport is smooth, prepare your pill bottles in a way that makes it easy for security officers to identify your medicine or vitamins as safe and legal.

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TSA Rules

The TSA allows you to travel with an unlimited amount of medication in solid form onto a flight, including pills. These pills can be in any type of bottle, case or bag. The only rule is that you remove the pills from your carry-on luggage when you reach the airport security checkpoint, which is a way of declaring that you're legally carrying pills onto the flight, rather than hiding illegal substances in your bags.

Non-Prescription Pills

In the case of vitamins, health supplements and non-prescription medications, airport security may object to you taking an unreasonable number of pills aboard the flight. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows travelers from overseas to fly into the United States with non-prescription pills for personal use only. Carry only a few bottles of vitamins or non-prescription pills, or as much as you need for your trip, to avoid suspicion and to make sure the security screening goes quickly and smoothly.

Airport Security Screening

When you arrive at the airport security checkpoint with your carry-on, remove your pills from the rest of your luggage before they are X-rayed. Alternatively, you can show your medication to a security officer, though the officer may insist on X-raying it if he or she can't identify it by sight. In rare cases, officers may also subject the pills to explosives screenings, so arrive at the airport early to allow for possible delays.

Labeling Bottles

Though you don't have to label your prescription bottles to fly by TSA regulations, some states require labels on pill bottles. This helps security officers identify the medication and confirm the validity of prescriptions, if you have them. Leave the original labels on the vitamin bottles, or take a prescription for medicinal pills, if possible, to expedite the security screening.

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