Pernicious Anaemia Society
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How to take B12 & Needles on US Flight?

I have just started my own injections of Methylcobalamin, although due to my needle phobia I have to get someone else to do the shots for me every morning. Because of my memory problems, extreme leg numbness, sever hair loss and many other problems I am currently needing to inject every day.

I am soon travelling to the US and need to take all of my medication in my hand luggage. I take a lot of medication due to my allergies and illnesses, but I have never carried needles before.

The last two times I travelled to the states, my checked in luggage got lost, so my meds always have to be in my hand luggage. The US security are very strict in terms of travelling, so I am not sure what the proceedure is for taking needles on a flight. It's also a tricky one since I wasn't actually percribed them, and I am sure they will want to see some sort of medical letter?

The bottle was sent to me by (b12 deficiency) who are not longer supplying due to not enough donations and they never responded to any of my questions via email. I paid full amount for mine too. I guess they were too busy, so they didn't want to answer anything.

I would be grateful for any advice on this matter.

Many thanks. xXx

14 Replies

If you want the official line, contact the embassy of the USA and the airline concerned. Probably also a good idea to check out the airport you are flying from (and the one you will be using for your return flight). Much information will be on-line but if in any doubt, ring or email or use their contact forms. Carry printed copies of the relevant information.

Remember that there could be state laws to contend with as well! What might be true for the state you land in, might not be true of the ones you cross or end up in.



Yes you do need a letter from a Dr/GP saying you need the injections; re:"all of my medication in my hand luggage", if you do that then you need to go trough separate customs as B12 must not be exposed to light (scanner). It will be on the custom control web site of the country you are visiting how it works. You are treated like a person who is diabetic basically.

Kind regards,



Trying to follow that, marre. Do any airport scanners use light scanners? Do millimetre wave or X-ray backscatter machines affect B12?


Airport scanners use x-rays not light.


Apparently the scanners do affect B12 in an ampoules, but only a little, so going trough once is OK, but not 10 times say, there is a research paper, but can not find it at the mo.

Its a bit like old fashioned film roll in a camera, first time going trough a scanner at airport OK, 2 or 3 times and the film is ruined.


I'm entirely happy to believe that is the case - I couldn't get your drift with regards to light! :-)


Is x ray not part of the light spectrum?


"LIght" is usually restricted to visible light, sometimes plus infra-red and ultra-violet. That is what I think of when I read the word "light". When reading about the complete range of frequencies, we usually see the term "electromagnetic spectrum".

Trouble is, that the spectrum is so huge and the techniques of avoiding/masking exposure vary dramatically across it. Light is easy to block out with, for example, a very thin sheet of aluminium foil. Very low frequency radio and gamma rays are very hard to avoid.

Exposure to gamma rays from sources such as lightning (on some flights) might be much greater than that from scanners - but, of course, it is the cumulative effect that matters.


I thought it was UV (ultraviolet light) that was the problem. UV light falls into a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum than x-rays so they are quite different.


Yes I see, all fall under the electromagnetic spectrum.


"The electromagnetic spectrum refers to the range of different types of Electromagnetic Radiation. These are usually sorted by the frequency. The frequency which the field oscillates at defines the type of EMR. Here are some of the technologies that use or give off EMFs:

•Mains electricity



•Mobile Phones

•Microwave ovens



•Visible light




Amazing! Thanks for that info. I never would have thought about the B12 going through the scanner. I appreciate the other info on documents required.

Have a great weekend xXx


Here some more info:

Traveling with or mailing medications and medical devices, such as needles or oxygen tanks

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 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 contact the FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, at (301) 796-0356. Contact FDA.

If you are traveling with medical devices such as needles or oxygen tanks that could pose a security or safety concern to others, be sure to have a copy of the prescription for those items from your doctor. You should also contact the Transportation Security Administration about any additional requirements they may have.


For me the biggest problem was going through the body scanner, I did not stand still, lost my balance and ended up with a full body search, not nice, a lot of shouting. I contacted TSA before I went about my B12, they told me I had to avoid putting my B12 through the scanner, nor put it into hold bag, I decided to make sure I had finished my B12 before getting to US, it all seemed to much hassle to me then, and the visit was only for 5 days, but that was 4 years ago, things may have changed.

Kind regards,



Depending on which state you plan to visit, you may be able to buy syringes at your destination even if the ones you bring with you get confiscated. Here is a map were you can click on the state you plan to visit and see what the law states:

And this list might help if you specifically use insulin-type syringes:


I also just came across this:

(I didn't even know the tsa had a blog...)

"Medication is ok to place in your carry-on or checked luggage in any form. From our web page: "All medications in any form or type (for instance, pills, injectables, or homeopathic) and associated supplies (syringes, Sharps disposal container, pre-loaded syringes, jet injectors, pens, infusers, etc.) are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. Atropens, an auto-injection system that can help treat many emergency conditions (low heart rate, breathing problems, and excess saliva related to insecticide, nerve gas or mushroom poisoning) are also allowed. We do not require that your medications be labeled.""


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