If you’re using injectable medications, you may wonder if you can legally travel with them. Fortunately, the short answer is yes, of course! Whether by airplane, car, train, or boat, thousands of people with chronic diseases travel daily with injections, syringes, needles, and even electronic medical devices.
However, there are a few rules you must be aware of. Traveling with medications both nationally and internationally does require a bit of preplanning and organization. So, here's what you should know before traveling with injectable drugs!
Related article: How to find travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?
TSA, Syringes, and Liquid Injectable Medicines
When traveling with injectable medicines, people's primary concern is TSA rules about sharps and liquids. But whether you’ve been prescribed insulin for diabetes, Mounjaro, Ozempic, Aimoivig for your migraines, growth hormone injections, EpiPen for allergies, rheumatoid arthritis injections like Humira, Enbrel, or any other injections, you’re allowed to fly with it and take all your medical supplies on board.
Related article: TSA regulations for diabetics with insulin and medical supplies
Can you bring syringes on a plane?
Yes, you can bring syringes on a plane, as long as they're for medical purposes and properly packed and labeled.
According to the TSA guidelines for travelers with medical supplies, there are a few special instructions for syringes and needles. First, you’re supposed to declare these items at security checkpoints.
Then, it specifies that: “unused syringes are allowed when accompanied by injectable medication," while you must carry used syringes in a sharps disposal container. If you do not have any sharps container for your next flight, ask a pharmacy or use any similar hard-surface closed container.
However, most people traveling with syringes don't really follow these instructions in practice. We probably should not say it, but you could actually carry your medical needles as you would carry them to go to the nearby supermarket, especially if you're flying to a local USA destination. TSA officers are so used to these items that they rarely check or ask questions.
Related article: Traveling with insulin needles on a plane
TSA, injections, and liquid medicines
Injectable drugs are liquids. You may wonder if you can bring them on board and if they count for your total 3.4 oz/100ml allowed liquids. Fortunately, they don't. The liquid restrictions for airplane travel do not apply to medications.
You can take more than 100ml of liquid medications on the plane. However, you're supposed to declare it to a TSA office and be able to justify any quantity larger than 3.4 oz/100ml total. That can be done by showing a medical prescription or a doctor's letter specifying the dosage you're using and a return ticket to justify the length of your trip.
Once again, this is the theory. While we encourage you to have all documents ready (better safe than sorry!), chances are you won't be asked to show anything at the airport.
Related article: How To Travel With Medication Internationally?
Can you pack syringes in checked luggage?
Legally, you can pack your medical syringes in your checked luggage, both used and unused.
However, if your syringes are prefilled and contain your medicine, we recommend you don't. Hazardous temperature and atmospheric conditions in the hold could damage your treatment. Besides, bags get lost sometimes, if not often!
People traveling with medicine should pack any drug, medical device, or accessory in their carry-on.
Related article: How to Travel With Refrigerated Medications?
Can X-ray machines damage medications?
Most medications, including liquid drugs, are not affected by the radiation emitted by airport security screening machines (X-rays) or metal detectors.
The airport machines generate low-power radiation, and the exposure length is only a few seconds, which isn't enough to damage any medications or other liquid substances you may carry in your luggage.
However, electronic medical devices such as insulin pumps, pacemakers, ICDs (implantable cardioverter defibrillators), or others may be affected by X-ray machines. When in doubt, consult with the manufacturer and ask if your device can safely go through x-ray machines, metal detectors, or 360 full-body scanners.
Inform the security agents about any medical device you have on you or in your checked luggage, and remember that you always have the right to request a pat-down search instead.
Related article: Can insulin pumps go through X-ray & Metal detectors at the airport?
How to Travel with Injections and Syringes?
First, rest assured that you're not the only one traveling with liquid medicines or injections, and there's no particular difficulty to it. But you must plan ahead to ensure your medicine stays safe and protected while transported or shipped. That implies packing it properly and keeping it cool if it's temperature-sensitive.
Related article: A list of medicines that require refrigeration
Packing injections and syringes for travel
Whether contained in vials, prefilled pens, or prefilled syringes, injectable medications are "breakable" and must be transported with caution. Avoid shaking them too much and dropping them on a hard floor. If yours is contained in vial glass containers, you should purchase a silicone vial protector for your next trip.
Silicon vial protectors are 100% shatterproof!
Travelers with medicines are requested to keep them in their original containers with a readable label, so they're easily identifiable by customs agents. Depending on your destination, but especially if you're crossing international borders, you should bring a medical prescription and sometimes a doctor's letter.
Keeping injectable medication refrigerated
Numerous injectable medications are biological drugs extremely sensitive to heat and storage conditions. That makes it an extra challenge when traveling.
If you’re traveling with refrigerated drugs, you must ensure they stay within the recommended temperature range.
Naturally, always keep them in the shade and away from sunlight, never leave them in the car, and put them in a fridge as soon as you arrive at your destination.
Most people traveling with refrigerated medications use a medical-grade travel cooler like the ones from 4AllFamily. They're specially designed to keep sensitive drugs refrigerated even when you don't have access to electricity, like during an outdoor trip or an airplane journey.
Have you traveled with syringes and injectable medications recently? Have you experienced any trouble? Or was it just fine like it should be?