Travelling with Medication

Some airlines now restrict the amount of hand luggage allowed on flights, it is essential to check with your individual airline prior to flying.

The Chief Medical Officer in the UK has issued a procedure for those taking medication on flights (DOH 2006).

  • It states that travellers should be discouraged from taking medication onto flights unless it is for the immediate journey and an allowance of time at the other end to pick up your baggage (allow at least 4 hours).
  • It also recommends that all extra supplies of medication for your arrival should be placed in the hold luggage.
  • Any powder/inhalers or tablets can be carried in the hand luggage – up to 50 grams
  • Any liquids, creams or gel medications which are essential for the flight may also be carried in the hand luggage as long as they are smaller than 50ml (such as a GTN spray)
  • If the amount is larger than 50mls you must make sure it can be tested before getting on the flight – in order to test the medication you will be asked to taste it – the airports have been advised to have plastic cups available for this procedure!
  • If an adult is travelling with a young child and wants to carry non-prescription medication onto the flight they will need to taste the child’s medication (as long as they are not allergic to it!)
  • If any of these regulations don’t fit your medication then further checks will be necessary

These regulations have been issued by the DOH and any updates to the information should be checked on the DOH website.

As well as trying to follow these guidelines it is a good idea to carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating the amounts and types of medication verified for your use, including any essential non-prescription medication.

Special Advice for Travel with Insulin

If you are a diabetic you should first try to get an exemption certificate from the airline you are traveling with – for this you will need to get a letter from your doctor stating your need for insulin.

If this is not possible there is advice that has been issued by Novo Nordisk an Australian company. It contains good advice explaining how to pack insulin when it needs to go into the hold luggage as well as what to look out for to prevent it freezing.

Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional.  Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.