It’s inevitable that some travelers need to take medication on holiday, but did you know there are rules about what medication you can and can’t take abroad?
There are some surprisingly strict laws on both prescription and over-the-counter medications around the world. Don’t pack these common medications, it is something that you might end up in jail.
“The medications most often restricted are controlled substances, such as opiates and stimulants, and psychotropic medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics,” says Claudia Zegans, MD, associate medical director at Global Rescue, a travel-risk and crisis-response firm providing medical advisory services, medical evacuations, and security extractions to travelers around the world. “However, even medications such as asthma inhalers and insulin are restricted or prohibited in some countries.”
Check out some of the most common medications that are banned in other countries.
1. Medication containing pseudoephedrine – found in the likes of Sudafed and Vicks – is banned in Japan.
2. Diazepam, Tramadol, codeine and a number of other commonly prescribed medicines are ‘controlled drugs’ so you should always check what the requirements are for taking them into the country you wish to visit, as failing to comply may result in arrest, a fine or imprisonment in many countries, including Greece and the UAE.
3. Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and strong painkillers all require a licence in Singapore.
4. In Costa Rica, you should only take enough medication for the length of your stay, with a doctor’s note to confirm that this is the right amount.
5. In Indonesia, many prescription medicines such as codeine, sleeping pills, and treatments for ADHD are illegal.
6. In Qatar, over-the-counter medicines such as cold and cough remedies are controlled substances and must be accompanied by a prescription.
7. Tourists should always carry a doctor’s note with any personal medicine when visiting China.
Sadly, if there is no way to enter a country with the medication you need, it may be time to take a hard look at your itinerary.
“If your destination country has an absolute ban on your medication and your health requires that you continue your medication without interruption,” Dr. Zegans says, “you’ll have to change your plans.”