Suppose that a private individual (A) who is resident outside the US sends a prescription drug to USA (nothing narcotics or can be abused ) for someone who can't afford the current US prices. Suppose that A is not a US citizen.

According to the local country postal service, A can do that if A (the shipper) provides a prescription. Under international law, it's legal for A to do so. But apparently this is not legal in the US.

What problems could this cause the non-US shipper A? What A did is perfectly legal in A's own country, and under international law.

What will happen to A if the package gets seized by US customs?

Is there any precedent about this?

2 Answers 2


Importation of prescription drugs by an individual U.S. consumer for personal use is prohibited unless Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. There are however exceptions/restrictions:

Prescription drugs, which are made in the U.S. and then exported, can only be returned to the U.S. manufacturer. Under limited circumstances as defined and allowed by FDA regulations, a small quantity of a prescription drug for personal use might be eligible for import.

In which case the following minimum information and documentation must be included on the commercial invoice and accompany the shipment:

  • A copy of a valid doctor's prescription.
  • Complete name, address phone number of the recipient's licensed treating physician
  • Name & address of the drug manufacturer
  • Form of medicine (tablets, capsules, liquid etc.)
  • Quantity
  • Type of packaging
  • Type of medical condition being treated
  • If the medication can be purchased at the destination
  • Dosage strength
  • Copy of passport required for non-resident consignee's

The importation of prescription drugs is limited to a 90 day supply.

  • Thank you for the answer , how does this affect me as a non American , what i am doing is perfectly legal within my borders and international shipping standards . The most they can really do is steal my package
    – Evilfish
    Oct 13, 2021 at 23:10
  • They basically considered it the same as buying it for yourself.
    – o2h2o
    Oct 13, 2021 at 23:13
  • If i bring it with me while traveling it's within my rights to bring 3 months supply , as long it has prescription on it , as a Foreigner so that's not related , I can also ship extra to me if i need it . I am talking what are the consequences for me the sender , not the receiver .
    – Evilfish
    Oct 13, 2021 at 23:22

I think the biggest risk you take is that customs seizes the package and considers the possibility that you customary or even commercially send prescription drugs by mail. Since that is illegal also in many other countries (particularly of course if there is no valid prescription) they may inform the respective authorities of your country. You might be fine if you can show the prescription, but I'd contact your local customs on whether exporting drugs like this is legal where you live.

  • Under commercial value cap ( 10 % of it ) and medications with prescriptions are exempted regardless , especially non narcotics . The prescription part isn't something to worry about by the sender's side .
    – Evilfish
    Oct 14, 2021 at 8:23

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