Traveling with medication and medical devices overseas can be difficult. You may have trouble finding some things you need overseas. You may also have trouble taking what you need with you on your flight or cruise.
Every country has its own rules on what substances are allowed and which are banned – and failing to comply might have devastating consequences, in the worst case, you may find yourself in prison.
Plan ahead. Get the information you need before you go. When you’re informed, you can take steps to reduce the risk of having problems with medication or medical equipment while you’re away.
While something might be legal in the United States, in the country you’re visiting, possession of the drug could equate to a prison sentence.
If you have a medical condition, it is important to talk to your doctor to see if there are alternative medications you can take and to get a doctor’s letter or prescription before traveling.
It’s also crucial to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions and current medical treatments to your travel insurer, and ensure you’re covered for any health issues that may arise while traveling.
Below are a few of the common drugs that are banned outside the U.S:
- Medication containing pseudoephedrine – found in the likes of Sudafed and Vicks – is banned in Japan.
- 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.
- Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills, and strong painkillers all require a license in Singapore.
- 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.
- In Indonesia, many prescription medicines such as codeine, sleeping pills, and treatments for ADHD are illegal.
- In Qatar, over-the-counter medicines such as cold and cough remedies are controlled substances and must be accompanied by a prescription.
- Tourists should always carry a doctor’s note with any personal medicine when visiting China.
Be Prepared. Start reviewing your medications and trip itinerary at least two to three months before your vacation. Check with your country’s embassy or look into your destination country’s health service.
“Some countries that post medication restrictions will also detail the procedures you can take to bring restricted medications into that country,” Dr. Zegans explains. “These procedures include special permitting procedures or documentation requirements, among others.”