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Travelling Abroad with Medication

If you're lucky enough to be going abroad within the next few months, but you're worried about what to do with your medication, here's Direct Travel guide to travelling with medicines.

Where do I start?

Start by talking to your GP about your travel plans at least 2 months in advance of your trip. This will allow consideration for any special measures, such as vaccinations before you go, ordering any additional medication for while you're away and checking if your medications are restricted or controlled before you leave. Your doctor or medical team can also give advice on adjusting your medication regime if you're travelling through time-zones, to minimise disruption to your plans and health.

A Warning:

You could be fined or go to prison if you travel with controlled drugs that are illegal in the country you're travelling to, even if they are lawfully prescribed in the UK. It's your responsibility to check if you're allowed your personal medication or equipment through UK security, on board your aircraft and into your destination.

UK Restrictions:

If your medication is classed as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, you may have to take additional measures to travel with it. This could include getting special personal licence via the Home Office or having documentation from your GP.

Your Pharmacist or Doctor should be able to let you know if your medication, or it's ingredients, are controlled or you can check the GOV.UK - Controlled Drugs List. This list only includes ingredients only and not brand or generic names, so it's best to check with a medical professional.

Should you need a personal licence, you should begin the application process as soon as possible as it can take some time to process your request. You’ll find full information here GOV.UK - Personal Licence.

If you need documentation, this can normally be requested from the GP who prescribed your drugs. The document or letter will need to state: Your name, your travel itinerary, a list of your medicines - including their use, dose and how much you have to travel with, and the signature of the prescriber.

If your medication is not classed as controlled, you may still need a letter from your GP to take them through security in your hand-luggage, especially if you have liquids over 100ml, syringes or medical devices. Your GP's letter should state the medication name, including its generic name not just the brand name, the dose you need and what it's needed for. Please note that you may be charged for this letter as it doesn't fall under standard NHS free services.

Airline Restrictions

If your pre-existing medical condition means that you need to travel with specialist equipment such as needles, a pump or continuous glucose monitoring device if you have diabetes, oxygen if you have COPD or pressurised canisters like asthma inhalers, contact your airline as soon as possible to see if you need a letter from your GP to travel onboard with these items.

For more information visit GOV.UK - Hand Luggage Restrictions.

International Restrictions

Next, check the rules of the country or countries you’re travelling to, even if you're just passing through. You can do this via the embassy of the country you're travelling to.

You can check the full list here GOV.UK - Foreign Embassies

General Tips

Take your medication in your hand-luggage, in its original packaging. This should reduce the chance of loss or damage on-board.

Take more than you need. In most cases a few days’ worth should be plenty to counteract any delays to your travel plans, but if you’re travelling with medication for serious conditions your GP may recommend that you take more.

If your medication needs temperature-controlled storage, speak to your Pharmacist about how best to deal with this. This is important while you travel but also when you arrive - you may need to request refrigeration facilities in your accommodation.

Make sure you're covered:

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that requires medication or specialist equipment, make sure that your travel insurance covers you for any loss or damage while you're away. Here at Direct Travel we specialise in medical travel insurance and matching customers to policies that are right for them, so get a quote today!