Travelling with medication

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  LuganoPirate 8 Mar 2016
at 15:52

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  • Anonymous


    Topical in light of the news that a sports star has failed a “drugs” test for a substance being used for the last 10 years that was only banned 10 weeks ago.

    I know there are some countries where over the counter medication freely available in the UK is banned – has anyone had any trouble entering a country, with medication perfectly acceptable in one country but not acceptable in another. I know the key is to carry a prescription, but a prescription is not needed for generally available over the counter drugs.

    Does anyone have a list of medication that could cause trouble for a passenger.. in certain countries…


    Martyn – a good subject and I’m glad you raised it as I had this problem only recently. I suffer from Arthritis and take medication daily for it, when I came through Heathrow Terminal 5 recently for a connection I was stopped and asked to explain what the medication was, why I was taking it and where was my prescription. All of this was of course done with the usual charmless aggression that Terminal 5 security seems to specialise in. I happened to have a spare prescription in my laptop bag which was in Dutch. Said goon stared at it for a while (clearly having no idea what he was looking at) and then dismissed me with a wave of the hand.
    Compare this with being stopped in Tel Aviv last year where I was questioned with politeness and discretion and sympathised with when I explained why I had the pills,
    “sorry to hear that sir, my father has that as well”.


    As a Gp now working in Australia I am constantly asked for letters stating medication and reasons for such – and am led to believe this is suggested as essential by the Australian government (although am happy to be corrected) what I do know from a wonderful customs officer patient of mine is that Dubai and no doubt many other countries are very specific about what is allowed in (see emirates website as they do have an extensive list) basically anything ‘addictive’ such as codeine products sleeping tablets etc and basically it is well and truely advised to have a letter with you! Whilst cocodamol might be ‘over the counter’ in the uk it is banned in Dubai without authority


    Returning from Dubai to Malta, I had 100 tablet tub of tabs with a different active ingredient name to the common one used in Europe, but the same active ingredient.

    The local Maltese customs men thought they were in a re-run of the French Connection.

    MC – Have you got a prescription

    Me – no

    MC – why not

    Me – because it is an OTC medicine

    MC – we’ll see about that, it looks suspicious

    So they called the airport duty doctor who came and looked at the tub

    Doctor – “what is the problem?”

    MC – “He has no prescription for them and the tub says Extra Strength.”

    Doctor – “Since when has Paracetemol needed a prescription?”

    So beware, fellow travelers, when you take Tylenol (Acetaminophen) extra strength to Malta – you might be wiser to substitute Anadin Extra (Paracetomol)!


    Martyn, a very good point to raise. NHS website suggests contacting relevant embassy for information. There is also Nathnac. That’s where I found out about Codeine and Dubai. Any reputable travel insurance company should also have this. Some countries only require medication to be in the original packaging with the instruction leaflet. Others require a prescription and possibly a letter from your GP.

    Reminds me of an experience many years ago with a Nigerian business contact. He had been detained at Schipol and subjected to a search of all orifices, as he was carrying paracetomol in a clear plastic bag with barely readable markings. He was even less amused when I advised that only vets gave out tablets in such packaging.

    Edited – Nathnac now TravelHealthPro. Further info available on the Medicines Abroad page. Will see if I can find a list.


    I seem to recall somewhere that paracetamol is also forbidden into Turkey unless with a prescription.

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