Millions of travellers have at least one prescription drug that has become a part of their daily routine. However, most have become so accustomed to taking medication wherever they go that it's easy to forget it might not be legal in every country.
So where are you safe to travel with your medication and where should you take extra precaution?
Each country has varying rules on how it deals with medication policies. Some only require the presence of a doctor’s certificate to authenticate, others confiscate meds at the border and the stricter countries can detain travellers if they find any trace ofa medical substance deemed illegal in the country.
While over-the-counter access to codeine pills was only recently banned in Australia, access to the drug has been restricted overseas for a while. Japan, China, Greece, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore are just of the few of the countries where you will need a prescription to purchase the strong painkiller or a Narcotic Certificate to carry it into the country. Failure to present the certificate will mean the drugs will be confiscated.
Dexamphetamine, also known as Adderall or Ritalin, is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. The drug is banned in Japan, UAE and Thailand along with several others around the world. In Japan authorities have the ability to detain travellers if they are found with the medication on them.
Japan might be one of the strictest countries in regards to medication as not even sinus or allergy medicine is allowed in, meaning you should definitely leave your Sudafed and Vicks at home.
Sleeping pills in the benzodiazepine family such as Valium or Stillnox are restricted in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. While other painkillers such as Tramadol are considered “controlled drugs”.
While this gives you a good idea of what you can and can’t take into certain countries, the list is not all-inclusive. Always check verified government travel websites such as SmartTraveller or the Department of Health to ensure your medication is safe to transport overseas. If your medication is not allowed and not essential than leave it at home. However, that is rarely the case with prescription medication.
Make sure if you are taking medication that it comes with a certified doctors certificate, that you keep it in the original packaging to be easily identified and that you take enough for your entire trip in case you are unable to refill your script.
If it is illegal than it’s best to check with your doctor about alternatives. However, if it’s legal medication then go straight to your doctor to receive a certificate. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!