September 19, 2018

Keeping up your daily medication regime while traveling is integral to maintaining good health. Medication laws vary substantially worldwide, and it is important to know the best way to enter a new country with potentially regulated drugs and if they are allowable.

Consider the following in mind when traveling: 

  • Thorough documentation may be necessary to clear customs.
  • Not all medication may be available for refill.
  • Advanced consultation with medical providers and research into your destination are necessary prior to embarking to ensure compliance and access to medicines that keep you well. 

International Regulatory Challenges

Bringing medications into a country can be fraught with challenges. Many psychotropic drugs (those that impact the central nervous system) are intensely regulated. These include, but are not limited to, narcotics, anti-anxiety drugs, sleep aids, and drugs used to treat ADD/ADHD. Most countries do not allow the importation of narcotics. Some medications that affect the central nervous system are over-the-counter in one country but may be controlled in another.

There is no single database of restrictions on medications for all countries. Regulation is not confined to the national level, either; local and state governments in many countries impose restrictions separate from those of the national government. Some local areas have stricter laws than the national government, while others have looser laws. Areas may post laws about medication restrictions on their embassy site, ministry of health website, or entry regulation and visa sites. These sites can be challenging to navigate, especially as the names of medications may vary from one place to another, be confusing, and the list may be extensive.

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