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Taking Medication Abroad

  1. Make sure you have enough of your medication to last for the whole trip and don't forget to allow for a few days leeway in case of flight delays. Your doctor can supply you with up to three months worth at a time.
  2. Take a letter from your doctor and/or a repeat prescription/copy of your prescription. You will need to pay for a doctor's letter as this isn't covered under the NHS.
  3. Make sure you have the proper names of your medication not just the brand names they are sold under in this country e.g. Solpadol is co-codamol 30mg/500mg. You should also have the strength as many medicines come in different strengths.
  1. Make sure you keep all your medication in it's original packaging so that it can be clearly seen to be a prescription drug in your name.
  2. You may need to check that your medication is permitted in your country of destination or any countries you may have to stop over in. You can do this by phoning the appropriate Embassy or High Commission.
  3. You should contact the airline you are flying with and ask them what their policy is regarding taking any medication on board the flight. You may be able to find out this information on-line as well. While you may be advised to carry all medication in your hand luggage in case your bags go astray, some airlines will only allow you to carry as much medication as you will need on the trip, the rest having to go in your main luggage in the hold. The Chief Medical Officer in the UK has issued a procedure for anyone taking medication on flights (DOH 2006) :
    • It states that travellers should be discouraged from taking medication onto flights unless it is for the immediate journey and an allowance of time at the other end to pick up your baggage (allow at least 4 hours).
    • It also recommends that all extra supplies of medication for your arrival should be placed in the hold luggage.
    • Any powder/inhalers or tablets can be carried in the hand luggage - up to 50 grams
    • Any liquids, creams or gel medications which are essential for the flight may also be carried in the hand luggage as long as they are smaller than 50ml (such as a GTN spray)
    • If the amount is larger than 50mls you must make sure it can be tested before getting on the flight – in order to test the medication you will be asked to taste it – the airports have been advised to have plastic cups available for this procedure!
    • If an adult is travelling with a young child and wants to carry non-prescription medication onto the flight they will need to taste the child's medication (as long as they are not allergic to it!)
    • If any of these regulations don't fit your medication then further checks will be necessary
    • These regulations have been issued by the DOH and any updates to the information should be checked on the DOH website.

      Taken from August 2006 DOH Guidelines; See here to check for updates.
  4. Also make sure you take out health insurance and inform your insurance provider of your medical conditions. Failure to do so could result in them refusing to pay out if you need to make a claim. If you are travelling within the EU then you can obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles you to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment while you are in a European Economic Area or Switzerland.

    The EHIC will cover you for any accident or illness including preexisting ones. See here for more information click here You will still need to take out travel insurance as well as having a EHIC.

If you have any queries not covered here you can contact the Foreign Office. Here is the website address for information on travelling overseas. click here

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