28 Jul 15:13

What to Expect When Traveling to the United States with Medications and Specific Health Issues

Traveling to the United States is an exciting event, but if you need to bring medication or medical gadgets, you must take specific precautions to avoid delays before entering the nation. When it comes to drugs and medical equipment, the United States has highly strict rules and security standards. Following these basic recommendations will save you a lot of trouble.

When you go to the United States with pharmaceuticals, three agencies manage the restrictions that you must follow. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as Border Patrol and Customs.

Each agency has its own set of regulations, and you must follow them all. We’ll look at the numerous products that are classified “medications” and “medical equipment,” as well as what you need to do to bring them with you to the US.

Medications on Prescription

If your doctor has prescribed medicine that you will require during your journey to the United States, you will need a letter from your doctor (written in English) verifying that you will require this prescription during your stay. The drug should be in its original container, with dose instructions and your name clearly written on the label.

Bring no more medicine than you need for your stay, a 90-day supply is usually the maximum authorized.

Make sure you have relevant documentation from your doctor that is in English.

The FDA may have some issues with you bringing pharmaceuticals into the US that are not approved for use in the US, but you should be alright if you have the necessary papers. As long as you travel in tiny numbers, you should have no concerns; you can learn more about FDA restrictions right here!


Do You Have U.S. ESTA VISA Travel Authorization? If You Have ESTA Application, Check if it is Still Valid!

When you have your doctor draught the letter, make sure that they add the following statement:

“YOUR NAME” is a patient in my care who started taking (the name of the medicine here) on (date here) and is obliged to follow the treatment regimen while travelling.”

Separate medicine in a zipped bag to aid in the screening procedure when you arrive. The machine will have to filter pills and other solids.

Liquids do not need to be placed in a zipped plastic bag; they may be carried in your carryon luggage, but they should be kept separate and ready to be screened via the machine.

Inform the TSA officer that you have pills, liquids, or creams with you and what they are for. If a liquid cannot be verified safe, the TSA officer may be required to open it, test it, and dispose of it.

When travelling with liquids, it is recommended to bring new, unopened bottles to aid in the screening procedure.

Medical Equipment

When travelling with medical devices such as oxygen tanks, wheel chairs, and other assistance devices, you must go through the screening procedure to protect everyone’s safety.

In other situations, such as if you have an ostomy bag, you will be forced to pat yourself down and have your hands inspected for signs of explosives rather than go through the high imaging equipment.

Other gadgets that may need particular handling include:


Insulin pumps

Medication pumps


When the device may be removed, it must be removed in some instances. You will be allowed to sit off to the side in a specially designated screening area.

Portable oxygen machines, nebulizers, and CPAP machines must all be screened. Before you board your aircraft, be sure your portable oxygen tank is certified for in-flight use.

If you are diabetic and insulin dependent and need to travel with a cooler, needles, and other supplies, you must have the “medical necessity” document with you at all times or risk having your items seized.

In almost all circumstances, while utilizing medically assistive technology, the greatest step you can do to avoid long delays is to obtain a note from your doctor describing the equipment written in English!

Unless you have express instructions from your doctor that the oxygen machine CANNOT be removed for examination, you must remove it in all circumstances.

Illnesses, Diseases, and Conditions

Traveling to the United States when unwell and NOT under the care of a doctor with a definite diagnosis does not bode good. Customs officers in the United States are taught to seek for persons who may pose a health risk.

If you are plainly unwell, it is critical that you have evidence showing that you are not contagious, that you do not have anything communicable, and that you are receiving treatment.

If you are, then:

  • Blindness/vision impairment
  • Hearing loss/use of hearing aids
  • Are there any additional conditions?

You should alert the TSA officer so that special arrangements can be made for your screening.

If you are travelling with someone who has dementia, mental illness, learning impairments, or retardation, please notify the screener so that extra screening procedures can be used.

If you arrive at the entrance point with an undiagnosed fever, you may be denied access. Most of the time, you are not, but it depends on where you are coming from, how high your temperature is, if you have other symptoms of disease, and whether or not you are currently under the care of a doctor.

In most circumstances, your word is sufficient, but having proof to prove the condition is always preferable.

Traveling with medical equipment, medicines, or being disabled does not preclude you from visiting the United States; nonetheless, you must verify that you have the necessary documentation.

It may appear to be a lot of stress to deal with, but bear in mind that we do not live in a very secure environment, and taking these precautions keeps all travelers safe!

Just remember to document your ailment, condition, and/or prescription needs with your doctor on his or her letterhead, and you’ll be OK!


Do You Have U.S. ESTA VISA Travel Authorization? If You Have ESTA Application, Check if it is Still Valid!