The Dangers Of Traveling With Prescription Medicines

When traveling overseas, many countries have strict laws on the importation of drugs, both legal and illegal - so it's important to research the requirement for each country you plan on visiting prior to heading away on vacation overseas. Always comply with any requirements set down by the government regulations imposed for the importation of prescription medicines.

Below is a compilation of a number of items for consideration when traveling with medications, they include:

  1. Always carry enough medication in your carry-on luggage in the event of delayed or lost checked luggage. Additionally, always retain an ample supply of prescription medication to allow for any possible travel delays.

  2. Ensure prescriptions are transported in hand luggage and the prescription labels match the passengers boarding pass. Do not carry prescription medicine that is not in your own name unless it is for an accompanying traveler.

  3. Ensure all medicines are transported in their original packaging in order to reduce the risk of potential problems with overseas customs officials on arrival or departure from a country.


  1. Before leaving on vacation, check the expiry dates on all medication you intend to travel with.

  2. Travelers with chronic medical conditions should carry a doctor’s letter listing prescribed medications along with any important details of their health condition.

  3. Medication requiring refrigeration will not generally be stored by the airline on which you are boarding during the flight.

  4. Remember to take medication for any condition that may currently not be a problem, as the environment you intend on visiting may cause a condition to reoccur - such as asthma.

  5. Some medication containing amphetamines or narcotic analgesics may be restricted or may in fact be illegal in some countries. If unsure contact the embassy of the country you are visiting. One common example of this is that of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where codeine or medicines containing codeine are illegal.

  6. When traveling the skies, some countries have a 100ml limit when carrying liquids in hand luggage. In most countries, liquid prescription medicine is generally exempt, however you may need a letter from a medical practitioner or approval from the airline or departure airport. Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States have these restrictions in place, so be aware of the requirements and exemptions of not only your departing country but also any stopover or destination countries.


  1. For those resident of Australia, there are limits on any drugs subsidized under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Generally, travelers from Australia can only take enough for the trip including for any possible travel delays. For more information visit Traveling Overseas with PBS Medicine (Department of Human Services).

  2. If traveling alone a Medic-Alert bracelet is a sensible consideration or retain all relevant information on your mobile phone.

  3. If you are purchasing medicines overseas get advice from a reputable pharmacist as brand and generic names may vary greatly overseas. Counterfeit drugs are not uncommon in some countries. Never purchase drugs or medicines from street vendors or from local markets.

Sandra Hawkins

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