What is the best way to bring medication to Mérida?

a variety of pills and medication in a weekly box with a pink background

Some over-the-counter medications commonly used in the U.S. are prohibited in Mexico. Specifically, ones that contain stimulants. Medication containing codeine are also prohibited. It is illegal to bring some products such as inhalers or allergy and sinus medications that contain pseudoephedrine like Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers. What is the best way to bring medication to Mérida? In your carry on bag with corresponding prescriptions or a letter from your physician, when applicable.

Both Mexican and U.S. laws are constantly changing in regards to medications. If you still have questions about medications, ingredients, and other products,  contact the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and/or U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

This article was updated in May of 2023.

Flying into Mérida Mexico with medication

The best advice is quite simple with only 2 things to remember:

Carry a copy of the prescription or physician’s letter of the medication you are bringing with you.

If you do not have either one of these, keep the pills in the bottle that lists the medication. Most of us place our pills in a weekly pill container but this is not advisable when entering the country.

You are allowed to bring enough medicine for the time period you will be in Mérida.

If you will be in Mérida for 3 weeks, have enough medicine for 3 weeks plus a few days extra in the event of an emergency.

If you are bringing an unusual quantity of medication to Mérida, bring a doctor’s prescription. This situation would apply in the event you need to prove the medicine is for your own consumption OR in case your medicine is NOT available in Mérida. Most doctors are happy to provide a prescription for you to bring with you.

Avoiding a lot of hassle and stress at the border is key.

Medication to Mérida

Simple rules for bringing medication to Mérida Mexico

  • Declare all drugs, when necessary, to the appropriate customs official
  • Transport medication in their original bottles
  • Bring only the quantity you need for your trip plus a little extra for emergencies
  • Have a prescription or a written statement from your physician regarding the medication, if needed
  • The above is especially useful if you no longer have the original bottle naming the medication

It is better to be safe than sorry about medication.

Think about it this way . . .

Don’t put yourself in a situation to have your medications seized when traveling. There is nothing worse than having to source your prescriptions while on vacation. Keep in mind, some medications may not be available in Merida Mexico. Plan, prepare, and follow the rules for a safe trip.

FAQs on bringing medication to Mérida Mexico

Can I bring all medication?

You are allowed to bring the amount of medication you need for the time you are in Mérida. You are allowed a little extra to compensate for emergencies such as flight cancellations. However, keep in mind, you don’t want to throw up any red flags when you arrive.

Does medication need to be in original containers?

All prescriptions should be in the original containers. If this is not possible or if you take controlled substances such as insulin, have a note from your physician to accompany the medication.

Does TSA check my pills when leaving the U.S.?

While TSA does not require passengers to have medication in prescription bottles the laws of the country you are entering may differ. When keeping your medications with you, all liquids should be bottled in quantities of 3.4 ounces or less. They will need to fit into the quart-sized baggie; following the 3-1-1 liquids rule.

Do I have to declare my medication?

It is not necessary to declare medication at the airport security checkpoint UNLESS they contain a controlled or illegal substance.

Is it better to keep medication with me or put them in my checked luggage?

It is ALWAYS recommended to keep ALL medication with you in your carry on bag. This is especially helpful if you have a rare medication that may not be available in another country. Some medications can be hard to find.

multicolored pills, capsules, and medication in Medication to Mérida

Give yourself peace of mind so you have immediate access if and when you need them. We all have experienced or know someone that has had a checked bag lost or delayed.

6. What medication is not allowed?

Any products containing stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited.

7. Can I take unmarked pills on a plane?

Medication in liquid form is allowed in carry-on bags in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. BUT ultimately, this will be up to the individual TSA official as you go through checkpoints.

8. Can I bring Tylenol or acetaminophen?


9. Can I bring Motrin or ibuprofen?


10. Can I bring Benadryl?

Yes, the active ingredient in Benadryl (and other like-kind over the counter medications) is Diphenhydramine. This active ingredient is NOT on the prohibited list.

11. Can I bring Adderall?

Yes, but it is recommended that it is kept in the original bottle. For extra protection, carry a prescription or doctor’s note with the medication.

12. Why is there a problem with Pseudoephedrine?

This popular allergy medication is considered a semi-controlled substance. It is most commonly used as a nasal and sinus decongestant. It has also been used as a stimulant or to help promote wakefulness. In the U.S., customers wishing to purchase this product are required to show a photo ID, sign for it, and are only allowed certain monthly limits.

Unbeknownst to some people, Pseudoephedrine is used in the production of methamphetamines.

Meth-labs have increased at a rapid rate on both sides of the border utilizing this ingredient. Due to this, trained customs officials will carefully inspect any medication you bring into Mérida Mexico that may contain Pseudoephedrine. You are required to carry a prescription or doctor’s note to ensure it is not seized at customs.

13. What over-the-counter medication should I bring to Mérida?

    • Ibuprofen – for headaches, general aches, and pains
    • Imodium – for major stomach issues
    • Pepto-Bismol – for minor stomach issues
    • Dramamine – for motion sickness
    • Neosporin – for scrapes and wounds

Local tips if you run out of medication in Mérida Mexico

As long as you have your prescription, you should be able to get it filled in Mérida. This is another reason to bring your prescription with you.

Here’s what you can do if you find you’ve run out of, lost or damaged your medication:

  1. Not all pharmacies are the same.
  2. Some pharmacies will carry your medication and others will not.
  3. You may find your medication at one pharmacy but the same brand pharmacy across town does not carry it.
  4. Find a pharmacy close to you and take in your prescription, if available.
  5. There are times when I’ve not had my prescription but I did have the packaging or bottle the medication came in. This sufficed for a refill. While this worked for me, it may or may not work for you.
  6. If you don’t have your prescription, some pharmacies have someone on-site that can write one for you.
  7.  I stay away from the discount pharmacies like Pharmacias Similares. I’ve not had a good experience with them even though the medication is extremely cheap.
  8. Don’t give up! If you can’t find your medication, continue to search. I’ve had the most luck with Farmacias del Ahorra at Plaza Grande. Google Farmacias del Ahorra Parque Central. It is located on the corners of Calle 62 and Calle 63.

Laptop, glasses, stethoscope, cup of coffee and a person writing in a journal for Medication to Mérida

Final thoughts on What is the best way to bring medication to Mérida?

At times, preparing to travel internationally can be a process. There are many rules and regulations – some we are aware of and some we are not. Be sure you have your documents current and in order. Keep updated on policies. They constantly change up until the last minute before a trip. I do my best to keep up with the recommendations, suggestions, and regulations when I travel and bring medication to Mérida Mexico.

But even I’ve been caught off guard. At the end of the day, it will be up to the individual customs agent that checks your bag.

It’s most helpful to be courteous and respectful while keeping any frustration and/or questions to a minimum. The last thing I want to do is incent the agent to take every single item out of my bag and inspect every minute detail.

They have an important job to do and their job also keeps me safe from harmful or illegal activity. I am a visitor here and keep that in mind at all times. I take nothing for granted. Fortunately, I’ve never run into any issues going through customs. When you follow the rules, you set yourself up for a great trip and a great visit.