With almost half of the UK’s adult population now regularly taking prescription medication, more people are finding themselves caught short at customs or at a loss when trying to get access to a suitable replacement whilst away in another country. The consequences can be anything from a slight inconvenience to something far more serious.
To make things easier, we have put together a short list of useful information about how best to travel with medication, as well as some tips to help you plan ahead.
Medicine and medical equipment in your hand luggage
- To avoid the risk of losing medication in your hold luggage, it is best to take all medicines and equipment in your hand luggage or carry them on your person.
- Despite tough restrictions, airlines will allow their passengers to travel with any medication and equipment that is considered essential – even if liquids exceed the usual 100ml limit, so long as you have supporting documentation for each item.
- This could be a letter from your GP, or copies of prescriptions – anything that clearly shows the name and quantity of the drugs, as well as your name and the medical professional that prescribed them.
- Bear in mind that airport staff will be likely to want to screen liquids and equipment, so consider factoring in extra time to get through security. If you are wanting to travel with oxygen cylinders then you must contact your airline first.
Understanding controlled medicines
- Though most medications can be taken abroad without any major issues, there are some that are tightly controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation – often referred to as ‘controlled drugs’. This is simply to help prevent any illegal importing, exporting or supply of such substances.
- Depending on your destination and length of stay, it may be necessary to apply for a personal licence that permits you to carry controlled drugs to and from the country. For this you will need to contact the Home Office, who will also tell you the specific requirements for your medication.
- For more information on all the rules and regulations for controlled drugs, visit the UK government website.
- Before you go away you should speak to your GP to arrange a prescription that will cover the duration of your trip, plus some spare in case of emergencies, or if you extend your stay. You will also need supporting documentation for each item.
- Write down all the names of your medication, as well as what it is called in the country you are visiting, so that you can ask for more if needed. Your local pharmacist should be able to help with this, as well as giving general advice.
- Make a note of your doctor’s contact details including any numbers for emergencies.
- Make copies of everything and leave one set at home with a trusted family member or friend who you know you can contact in case of emergency.
For more tips on traveling with a condition requiring medication, please read more here.