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Travelling with Medicines

General Advice

All travellers going overseas with medication (including over the counter medications) should check if there are any restrictions on medications they intend to take prior to travel, such as:

  • Taking it out of the UK.
  • Taking it into the countries to be visited (including those being transited).
  • The type and /or amount of medication that can be taken.

Some countries have extensive lists of medications that are not permitted e.g. India, Turkey, Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Check with individual country Embassies via this linkIcon Newwindow

General tips for travelling with medicines:

  • Ensure adequate supplies are taken for duration of trip, include extra for unforeseen delays, damage or loss.
  • Keep medicines and equipment in original packaging with labels.
  • Consider using a thermos flask, cool pack or insulated pouch for medications that need to be kept at a specific temperature.
  • Carry medicines in hand luggage; suitcases may be delayed or lost in transit. Where possible split medications between bags, including hand luggage, so that if one goes missing supplies are still available.
  • For prescription medicines a copy of the prescription may be useful or an essential requirement.
    • Medications and equipment to be taken across border controls, through airport security or onto an aircraft may also need a healthcare practitioner letter.
  • Essential medication required during air travel may be except from the maximum 100ml liquid restriction but this requires a letter and prior approval from the airport and airline. 

Diabetes Medication and Equipment

All of the above information applies to those travelling with diabetic medication and /or equipment. Further information is available can be found via these links:

HIV Medication

A small number of countries refuse entry to individuals who are HIV positive. Information on countries that impose a ban or restrictions for HIV individuals can be found via this linkIcon Newwindow

For those travelling with HIV medications, a letter containing the contact details of the treating physician and listing all medications taken should be carried.  The letter does not need to state the reason for the medications, except that they are required to be taken uninterrupted and on an ongoing basis.  This letter can be shown; if questioned at customs about medication: if seeking medical care abroad; if replacing lost/damaged medication.

Home Office Requirements

Home Office Requirements if Travelling with Controlled Drugs When Departing from the UK.

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Patients travelling abroad in possession of such medicines must do so in compliance with the Home OfficeIcon Newwindow licensing requirements.

Travelling up to 3 months

Those travelling for a period of up to 3 months are automatically covered under the provisions of a Home Office general or blanket licence irrespective of the amount of drug they have been prescribed to cover such a period. Such travellers therefore do not require anything further from the Home Office. However, the Home Office advises that individuals obtain a letter from their prescribing doctor or drug worker, which should confirm name, travel itinerary, names of prescribed controlled drugs, dosages and total amounts of each to be carried.

Travelling more than 3 months

Those travelling for longer than 3 months need to be in possession of a Personal licenceIcon Newwindow

The Home Office general licence is valid for a period of up to three months. Once again, this will cover any amount of drug that has been prescribed to cover the absence. Any person whose absence from the UK is likely to be longer than three months will in normal circumstances, be expected to make arrangements to have their medication prescribed by a practitioner in the country they are visiting.

Application forms for those whose absence is likely to exceed three months, together with other relevant information, can be downloaded from the GOV.UK websiteIcon Newwindow


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