Marteny: Dealing with prescription medication

There are regulations as to how medications must be packaged when travelling by air in Canada.

These regulations will differ from country to country. It is up to the traveller to find out what is required by each country you visit.

In some countries, drugs that are legal and readily available in Canada will be considered illegal or may require a prescription. Contact the Embassy in Canada of the country you plan to visit to confirm the status of your medication.

When traveling with prescription or over-the-counter medications and syringes:

• The name of the patient for the medication must be the same name as on the boarding pass.

• Leave all medicine in its original, labeled container.

• Do not combine different medications into a single container.

• Pack an extra supply of each medication in case you are away for longer than expected.

• Carry a copy of the original prescription, and ensure that both the generic and trade names of the drug are included in case your medication is lost or stolen.

• The prescribing doctor’s name and pharmacy name must be on each container.

• Having a doctor’s note describing why you are taking the medication is also recommended

• Prescription medication is exempt from the liquid carry-on restrictions but must be presented to the airport screening officer separately from your carry-on luggage

• Pack all of your medications in your carry-on luggage.

• However, if you require syringes, hypodermic needles or biojectors for a medical condition, contact all the airlines you will be traveling with to verify if you can pack them in your carry-on luggage, as they may not be allowed in carry-on for security reasons.

• The needle guard must be in place and you must have the medication with you.

• Carry a supply of syringes to last your entire trip as well as a medical certificate that states they are for medical use.

• If the medication is less commonly known, check that it is legal and available in the country you are visiting.

When traveling to the United States, in general personal importation of a 90-day supply of medication is allowed, but only if the drug is not available in the United States.

Personal medication is subject to the United States drug importation laws and regulations through the U.S. Food and Drug administration.

When returning to Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada allows an individual to import a 90-day supply of prescription medication for the individual’s personal use or for an immediate family member.

The individual must personally bring the medication over the border in hospital or pharmacy dispensed packaging.

An individual may return to Canada with a 90-day supply of over-the-counter medication for the individual’s personal use or for an immediate family member.

For further information visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website at or the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website at

Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.



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