Can you Bring Pills in Hand on the Plane?

By Jodi "Jato" Thornton; Updated June 08, 2017

Packing meds: Can you bring pills on the plane?

ARTICLE VIEW Details Edit Preview Change History Saved Submit Draft saved a few seconds ago Can you Bring Pills in Hand on the Plane?

Whether you need prescription medication for a health condition or you just take vitamins to bolster your overall health, you can pack as many pills as you need for your trip. TSA doesn't require you to have your pills in original containers, but they will have to undergo X-ray and testing for trace explosives.

Pills in hand luggage

TSA recommends packing medications, vitamins and any other pills you may need in your hand luggage for easy access. Pack your pills in your daily pill box; keep them in their original containers; or put them in baggies or any other convenient container. You'll need to have them handy at the security checkpoint, and TSA recommends having them clearly labeled to speed things along.

Ibuprofen, vitamins and other OTC items

Over-the-counter pills and vitamins are OK to pack in your carry-on luggage. The pills don't have to be in their original sealed container, and you can put them in a pill minder or other container. Softgel vitamins and pills such as fish oil capsules fall into the pill category, not liquids, and should be included with your other pills, not your 3-1-1 bag. On the other hand, pourable liquid vitamins that aren't medically prescribed fall under the 3-1-1 rule and must be in containers less than 3.4 ounces or packed in your checked baggage.

Prescription pills

Your prescription medications can be carried in your carry-on, purse, pocket or other convenient container, but they must be screened. Just inform the TSA officer that you have medications and separate them from your other possessions at the checkpoint. A plastic baggie isn't required, but it's a good idea if you don't want the pill in your pocket to have to ride through a much-used TSA tray unprotected. TSA recommends labeling your medications, but they don't have to be in their original prescription bottles.

Tip: Ask your pharmacist to print out extra labels to carry with your medications. If you carry them in a plastic bag, you can stick the extra labels on the outside to avoid any hassle. Alternatively, include the leaflet stapled to the outside of the prescription bag when you received it along with your medications. Or order pre-sorted packets of your pills through online pharmacies offering the service. Not only will your pre-packaged meds show when you need to take them, they'll list the contents of every pill in the package.

The pill you can't take with you

Even though medical and recreational marijuana is legal in many states, you can't travel with it in pill form (or any other form) on an airplane. Its legality in each state is irrelevant when it comes to TSA screening, as the substance is still illegal under federal law. And although TSA doesn't look specifically for marijuana or illegal drugs, as a federal agency, they'll refer the matter to law enforcement should they discover time-release marijuana pills among your meds or vitamins.

About the Author

Jodi "Jato" Thornton