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Medically Necessary Liquids, Gels and Aerosols

Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions

Medically required liquids, such as medications, creams and breast milk, are permitted to be brought on board an aircraft. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, travelers must tell the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that they wish to bring medically necessary liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces in their carry-on bag.  Liquids, gels and aerosols are typically screened by X-ray and medically necessary items in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening.

Exemptions from the 3-1-1 Rule

Liquids in carry-on baggage are ordinarily limited by the 3-1-1 rule, which allows travelers to bring one quart-sized, clear zip-top bag containing liquids no larger than 3.4 ounces. However, travelers may bring medically necessary liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces in their carry-on baggage. Medically necessary liquids need not fit within a quart-sized bag. Accessories required to cool medically necessary liquids– such as freezer packs or frozen gel packs – are also permitted through the screening checkpoint, as are supplies that are associated with medically necessary liquids, such as IV bags, pumps and syringes.  These items are also exempt from the 3-1-1 Rule, but may be subject to additional screening.

Declaring Medically Necessary Liquids

Travelers who bring medically necessary liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces or medical accessories such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps and syringes to the checkpoint must inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process. TSA suggests, but does not require, medication be clearly labeled to facilitate the screening process. If a traveler does not want a medically necessary liquid to be X-rayed or opened for additional screening, the traveler must inform the officer before screening begins.

Screening Medically Necessary Liquids

TSA officers may test medically necessary liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items. If TSA officers are unable to use X-ray to clear these items, they may ask for the container to be opened and may also ask the traveler to transfer to a separate container or dispose of a small quantity of liquid, if feasible. If the medically necessary liquid cannot be X-ray screened or opened, officers may be required to take additional steps to clear it as well as conduct additional screening, which may include a pat-down of the traveler and screening of the remainder of the traveler’s accessible property.

Accessories required to keep medically necessary items cool are treated as liquids unless they are frozen solid at the checkpoint. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as other medically necessary liquids. Other supplies associated with medically necessary liquids are allowed through the checkpoint once they have been screened by X-ray or inspection.

Latest revision: 28 August 2014