Syringes in Hand Luggage: Rules, Tips and Templates

Syringes in Hand Luggage

 

Today we want to have a look together at the transport of syringes in hand luggage. Can syringes be transported in hand luggage just like that, or do specific rules have to be followed? Is it necessary, for example, to respect the rules for liquids in hand luggage when it comes to the carriage of syringes? How many syringes may I bring with me? Do I need a medical certificate for the syringes? We shed light on this matter.

 

May syringes be carried in hand luggage?

Syringes may be transported in hand luggage. It does not matter whether the syringes are insulin syringes, heparin syringes (anti-thrombosis syringes) or other syringes. However, you must always carry a medical certificate stating the diagnosis and the required medication (and any additional accessories required). This medical certificate must be carried in your hand luggage during your flight and shown as required. It is preferable to bring the document in your native language as well as a copy in English. There is no limit to the number of syringes you can carry. Also, the liquid rule does not apply to syringes in hand luggage, which must otherwise be followed for liquids in carry-on baggage. Yet, it is still a good idea to transport the syringes in the bag for liquids, as these must also be shown separately at the security checkpoint.

 

Medical certificate: General info

A medical certificate is required for the transport of syringes in any case. It does not matter whether the syringes are insulin syringes or other syringes.

 

Medical certificate for air travellers with diabetes

If you have diabetes, we recommend that you use this Diabetes Guide template (German/English). Alternatively, you can download a virtually identical template from the Swiss Diabetes Society here. You will find the template on the last page of the PDF. The PDF is written in German. The certificate on the last page, however, is both in German and in English. These certificates for air travellers confirm that you are dependent on insulin and ensures that you are allowed to carry the necessary utensils for measuring and injecting in your hand luggage.

These documents must, of course, be approved and signed by a qualified doctor to be valid. The details and information in this form are bilingual German/English. It is always best to have these kinds of documents in the English language because security staff often might not be able to understand the document if other languages are used.

The various utensils for measuring and injecting insulin that can be listed and ticked in the template (first template of the two) are:

  • Insulin pen or insulin syringes
  • Insulin cartridges
  • Blood glucose meter
  • Blood Glucose Test Strips
  • Blood lancets with Pricking Device
  • Injection needles
  • Insulin Pump with Accessories
  • Glucagon Syringe
  • Sensor and transmitter for Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)
  • Sensor and Scanner for Flash Glucose Monitoring (FGM)
  • Dextrose Tablets
  • Other

 

The second template (the one from the Swiss Diabetes Society) almost offers the same options. Therefore, we are not going to list them here in this article. Please just have a look at the PDF to check (last page!).

 

Further tips for air travellers with diabetes

If you have diabetes, it is not a good idea to store it in your checked baggage, as it may arrive late at your destination. For this reason, transport in hand luggage is always preferable. If you follow the above tips, then this should not be a problem!

Since air travel is often accompanied by a time lag, you may have to adjust your insulin dose accordingly. This is especially true for trips where the time difference in the destination country is more than 3-4 hours.

The basic rule is that if you fly to the West (e.g. to the USA or South America), your day of travel will be longer. Accordingly, the dose of basic insulin must be increased.

If you are flying to the east (e.g. Thailand, Japan), the dose of basic insulin must be reduced. More detailed information can be found in this guide from the Swiss Diabetes Society. On the last page of this guide, you will also find a document for the necessary medical certificate that you need as a traveller with diabetes on air travel.

Always discuss the above-mentioned insulin adjustments with your attending physician. You must consult your doctor anyway if you are flying with insulin, as you need a medical certificate for the transport of insulin and accessories. This is a good time to talk briefly about a possible adjustment of the insulin dose.

Another tip in connection with “flying with diabetes” is to order a diabetic menu early for your flight. Please contact your airline in good time.

 

Medical certificate for the need for thrombosis syringes / Heparin

Thrombosis syringes can also be transported in hand luggage. As with insulin syringes, however, a medical certificate is required for this.

In principle, the transport of thrombosis syringes/heparin is subject to the same rules as insulin syringes. You must therefore also have a medical certificate which proves that you are dependent on these remedies.

You might want to have a look at the template from the Austrian website Reisethrombose as a template for this medical certificate. However, this template is specifically tailored to Austria. If you are not from Austria, then you may have to adapt the template slightly. It is best to discuss this with your attending physician.

Of course, we cannot give you any guarantee as to whether you can use this template (in this form or slightly adapted). Ultimately, your doctor must decide how the form should look exactly. 

 

Where and how do you best transport the syringes?

For liquid medication (also for syringes), that are needed for the flight (you might need a medical certificate to prove this), the rule for liquids in hand luggage does not apply. Accordingly, they do not necessarily have to be transported in bags for liquids.

This means that you can also transport medicines requiring refrigeration, such as insulin, outside this bag for liquids. A good way to transport insulin is offered by Frio Insulin Cooling Wallets, for example, which function without any additional coolant (cooling by evaporation).

If you prefer to cool your syringes with a coolant, you can also use ice packs for this purpose. But be sure to read our article “Ice Packs in Hand Luggage: Yes, but only for Medicines!”, because the transport of such cold packs in hand luggage is actually prohibited and only permitted if it is a question of transporting medication requiring refrigeration.

It is generally not advisable to transport insulin in the hold of the aircraft, as insulin loses its effect when it freezes. In the baggage compartment it can get very cold under certain circumstances (normally it should not get too cold), but to avoid any risk, it is better to carry insulin in your hand luggage!

Another risk during transport in the hold is, of course, that in some cases these pieces of luggage may be delivered too late. So you might arrive at your destination (if you are unlucky for several days!) without your important medication. It is better not to take this risk!

 

Do you have to register the transport of syringes with the airline?

Usually, this is not necessary. There seem to be exceptions here as well. I just talked to Ryanair today in live chat, and they said that you have to register the transport of syringes with Ryanair as a matter of priority. To be on the safe side, it is best to contact your airline briefly and ask if early registration is required.

 

Number of syringes and accessories?

The number of syringes and accessories in hand luggage is not limited in itself. However, for the transport of syringes (as mentioned above) you must be able to present a medical certificate which clearly shows that you are dependent on the syringes during the flight. It is also recommended that you take about twice as many syringes and accessories with you on your trip as you need (for safety reasons!). Make sure you don’t stow everything in one piece of luggage, as this limits the risk of loss.

 

Rules on carrying syringes: USA

It is always worth taking a look at how a situation is handled in the USA. Because there are often different rules there. So are you allowed to carry syringes in your hand luggage when you travel to the USA?

The Transport Security Administration TSA is in charge for these kinds of rules. So what does the TSA have to say about syringes in carry-on?

The TSA says that UNUSED syringes may be carried in hand luggage when accompanied by injectable medication. Moreover, they state that you will need to declare these items to security offers at the checkpoint for inspection. 

The transport of unused syringes in checked baggage is allowed as well, as stated by the TSA. No special instructions need to be followed when unused syringes are carried in checked baggage.

On the other hand, the TSA has different rules for USED syringes in carry-on baggage.

Used syringes are allowed when transported in Sharps disposal container or other similar hard-surface container.Transport Security Administration TSA

The carriage of used syringes in checked baggage is fine too, according to the TSA. When transported in checked baggage, no special instructions need to be followed.

 

Plan a little more time

In general, if you have any special items with you on your flight, such as sports/special luggage, musical instruments or perhaps even a dog or cat, you should arrive at the airport a little earlier, because you have to expect that these particular items will be examined a little more closely and that of course costs time. The same applies to the transport of syringes. You may have to present a medical certificate and this can, of course, cost you a little time.

 

Buying medication/buying syringes and accessories abroad

Don’t save on the number of syringes and accessories you need for your trip. As a rule of thumb, you better take twice as much with you as you need, because the procurement of syringes and the necessary accessories may be more difficult than you imagined, depending on the country you are travelling to. You should ask yourself a few central questions concerning the procurement of your required medicines (also relevant for syringes and their active ingredients!) abroad if you have to buy/procure supplies locally:

  • Is there a prescription requirement at your destination? What exactly does it look like?
  • Is a prescription from your country valid or understandable there regarding language? It is best to always carry recipes and instructions (additionally) in English!
  • What is the name of the medicines in the target country?
  • Is the storage of your desired medication in the country of destination in accordance with the regulations?
  • Are the expiry dates of the medicines taken into account?
  • Is there a high risk of counterfeiting in the target country for the medicines you need?

 

Medical certificate: Documents/forms/templates for download

For all syringes and hypodermic needles, a medical certificate must be carried, as mentioned several times. Below you will find links directly to such templates for these certificates.

Medical certificate from the ADAC (General German Automobile Club) Info: Can be used for various purposes, as it is not specifically designed for a “disease”.

Medical certificate for thrombosis from reisethrombose.at Info: Template specific for Thrombosis. Specifically tailored for people from Austria. If you are not from Austria, the template needs to be adjusted!

Medical certificate from the Swiss Diabetes Society specific for diabetes
reference

Please note that this is only advice on “syringes in hand luggage”. This advice is not intended as a substitute for medical advice and is intended as a guide and checklist only.

 

What is the difference between a Syringe and a Needle?
In connection with this topic it makes sense to know about the difference between Needle and Syringe. There is often confusion about the two terms and they are frequently misused.

English native speakers often say “needle”, when they actually mean “a syringe with a needle”.

However, the term needle only designates the front part of the syringe that is used to inject the contents of the syringe.

Syringe, on the other hand, does not include the needle.