Because breaking the law might result in serious consequences, it is best to err on the side of caution whenever possible.

When it comes to taking medication when travelling, it is best to err on the side of caution rather than regret. When you travel with something that is prohibited or restricted in the country that you are visiting, there is a possibility that you will be questioned, that your medication will be thrown away, and that in certain extreme cases, you may even wind yourself in jail.

It is quite unlikely that you will get in problems for bringing in tiny quantities of medication for personal use, especially if you can provide evidence that the drug is intended for personal use. However, it is essential to plan ahead and execute the necessary measures in order to guarantee that the things you pack in your suitcase won’t cause any problems during your vacation.

Since Brexit, the regulations around travelling with conventional medications have remained unchanged, which is a relief given how difficult these regulations already are. Even getting accurate information online is more difficult than you may anticipate, which is concerning given how much is at stake if you make a mistake. Here is the information that you require.

Leaving the United Kingdom while carrying medication

Your first priority should be to ensure that you are in compliance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 of the United Kingdom, regardless of which nation you are visiting.

When leaving the UK in possession of medication that contains a controlled drug (for a list of the most commonly found controlled drugs, visit the website of the, you are required to be able to demonstrate to the UK authorities that the medication is for your own personal use by providing a prescription or a letter from your treating physician.

At least one month in advance of your trip, make an appointment with your primary care physician or visit a travel clinic.

Make an appointment with your doctor well in advance of your trip if you think you might want an official letter, or if you want to discuss other health concerns relating to your trip, such as acquiring immunizations, malaria tablets, or additional supplies of prescription medication. Even if you don’t typically pay for prescriptions, you should be aware that the National Health Service (NHS) standards prohibit the provision of more than a couple of months’ worth of pharmaceuticals at a time. Even in the current context, when many travellers are likely to be organising trips at short notice in order to be on the right side of changing restrictions, you still need to make sure that you are well prepared in advance.

Check to see if you are required to have a personal licence.

You are required to submit an application for a personal licence with the Home Office if you intend to travel outside of the United Kingdom for a period of three months or longer and are transporting sufficient quantities of any prescription medication to last for that duration. Carry out these steps at the very least 15 calendar days in advance of the date you intend to go.

Keep your medication in the container it came in and bring a copy of your prescription with you at all times.

This will be helpful in persuading border officials to allow you pass, but keep in mind that some countries may require extra documentation, such as a note from your primary care physician. Before you ask for a medical certificate, you should verify with the embassy of the nation that you will be visiting because some medical practises charge for them and because they are a time drain for general practitioners. Generally speaking, a print-out of your medical summary is fine, as long as it is rubber-stamped, signed, and dated, as recommended by Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth, a general practitioner who is also the author of three travel health manuals. In most cases, this service is offered at no cost by general practitioner surgeries.

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Commonly subject to regulatory controls

There is a substantial amount of variance in the regulations that govern bringing medication into another nation depending on where you are travelling; nonetheless, there are some classes of drugs that are often prohibited everywhere. These are the following:

Codeine or medication that contains codeine, such as over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like Nurofen Plus and Solpadeine that contain codeine as an active ingredient. It is possible to be arrested in a number of countries, including Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, for bringing codeine past customs without prior authorization.

Powerful painkillers made from poppy seeds, such as morphine and tramadol Plus, all of the following are among the types of drugs that are forbidden in a lot of different countries:

Opiate painkillers


Sleeping pills

Medication for the treatment of anxiety (including diazepam)

ADHD medication


If you want to travel anywhere with any of these items or with medical equipment such as syringes or an EpiPen, you should exercise an increased level of caution, as it is highly possible that you will be required to present some kind of written authorisation.

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Countries with stringent regulations concerning medical treatment


You are permitted to travel with up to five distinct prescribed medicines for personal use; however, you are only allowed to take a maximum of two boxes of each medicine. If you need to bring more than the allowed amount, you will need to check with the Greek National Organization for Medicines upon your arrival to see if you need special permission. Because Greece classifies codeine as a prohibited narcotic and requires a prescription for its use in any circumstance, it is illegal to bring into the country any pharmaceuticals that contain codeine but were purchased legally over the counter in another country, such as the United Kingdom.


In order to carry more than a personal supply of non-narcotic medication into Japan with you, you are need to obtain a Yakkan Shoumei import certificate before you travel. This certificate can be obtained online. Regardless of the quantity, if you want to possess drugs that Japan considers to be narcotics, you are required to obtain permission from the relevant Narcotics Control Department in Japan. Codeine, diazepam, and pseudoephedrine are some of the substances that fall under this category. Some nasal decongestant sprays also contain pseudoephedrine.


You are permitted to import any prescription drug into Mexico for your own personal use, regardless of the active ingredient; nevertheless, you are required to present a significant amount of documentation. You are required to have a prescription or letter from your primary care physician that details the quantity of medication you will require during your stay, the daily dose, and the quantity of medication you will bring into the country (which cannot exceed the quantity of medication you will require for your stay). In addition to this, the prescription needs to be translated into Spanish, which further complicates matters.


When compared to other nations in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is known for having the reputation of being one of the countries in the world with the most stringent policies on the importation of medication. It takes a zero-tolerance approach to drug-related offences, therefore before bringing in any medication that is on the UAE Ministry of Health’s list of restricted substances, make sure you check the website of the UAE Ministry of Health and ask for permission to do so. This includes headache medications like Exedrin, arthritis medication like Tylenol, and mint lozenges like Niquitin, as well as skincare products, herbal remedies, and opiate painkillers derived from poppy seeds, not to mention poppy seeds themselves.