Can I travel with medications and medical devices, such as needles or oxygen tanks?
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.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for pharmaceutical admissibility determinations. If you have any questions as to whether a specific pharmaceutical may be imported into the United States, please visit the FDA’s website, or call (301) 796-0356.
Can you ship or mail a prescription medication to the U.S.?
In most cases, it’s illegal for people to import drugs into the United States for personal use. That’s because drugs available in other countries haven’t been evaluated or approved by FDA for use or sale in the U.S., so we can’t ensure that they’re safe and effective. FDA generally considers such drugs unapproved.
FDA understands that there are cases in which someone may need treatment with a foreign drug that’s not available in the U.S. and there are no other U.S. medicines available to treat the condition. FDA’s Personal Importation Policy provides instructions for FDA personnel relating to the personal importation of drugs that may be illegal in the United States. FDA considers the following when reviewing such an application:
The drug is for a serious condition for which there is no effective treatment available in the U.S.
There is no marketing or promotion of the drug to U.S. residents.
The drug doesn’t represent an unreasonable health risk.
You verify in writing that you’re importing the drug for your own personal use.
You have a letter, written in English, from your doctor saying the drug is a continuation of treatment that began outside the United States or you provide the name and address of a U.S. licensed physician who will supervise your use of the foreign drug. The letter should accompany the package and be addressed to a Customs and Border Protection officer or broker.
You’re not importing more than a three-month supply of the drug.
If the medicine is sent through the mail, Customs might detain it until an FDA inspector can examine it. This could take as long as a month. To speed things along, make sure the outside package is marked and states that it contains a letter to the CBP officer or broker. The best option is to send the package by a courier service and flag it so the U.S. Customs broker will alert FDA inspectors about the special circumstances for sending the package.