If you’re planning to take your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready, says the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many travellers must carry their medicines with them across international borders to treat chronic or serious health problems. However, each country has its own guidelines about which medicines are legal. Medicines that are commonly prescribed or available over the counter in the US could be considered unlicensed or controlled substances in other countries. For example, in Japan, some inhalers and certain allergy and sinus medications are illegal. Also, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has strict narcotics laws that have landed many travellers in prison.
While rules vary from country to country, there can be serious consequences if you violate the laws of the country you’re visiting. These consequences can range from confiscation (removal) of your medicine, which could harm your medical treatment, to stiff penalties, including imprisonment on charges for drug trafficking.
Before you travel, check with the foreign embassy of the country you will be visiting or passing through to make sure your medicines are permitted in that country. Be aware that many countries only allow taking a 30-day supply of certain medicines and require the traveller to carry a prescription or a medical certificate. If your medicine is banned at your destination, talk with your health care provider about alternative medicine or destination options, and have your doctor write a letter describing your condition and the treatment plan. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) provides general information about country regulations for travellers carrying medicines that are made with controlled substances.
Also, pack smart and put the medicines in your carry-on luggage. You don’t want to be stuck without them if your suitcase gets lost! Keep medicines in their original, labelled containers. Ensure that they are clearly labelled with your full passport name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage.