For most stable, pre-existing medical conditions, your GP can prescribe up to three months’ medication for your holiday.
Different countries have different rules about the types of medicine allowed and how much you can take in and out.
Drugs you can easily buy over the counter in the UK may be controlled in other countries and vice versa.
Here in the UK a 'controlled drug' is any drug listed under the Misuse of Drugs legislation. Examples of controlled medicines are benzodiazepine, morphine, pethidine, temazepam and methadone.
If you need 3 months’ supply or more, you must apply in writing to the Home Office for a personal export licence.
Also check the rules for ‘controlled drugs’ in countries you’re going to/passing through.
Ask your doctor or contact the embassy for the country you’re visiting for advice. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website has a full list of foreign embassies in the UK.
Travelling with Medicines
- Always carry medication in the original labelled container from your pharmacist.
- Carry medicines in hand luggage (airline regulations permitting), with a copy of your prescription.
- Pack a spare supply in your suitcase or hold luggage, in case of holiday delays or you lose your hand luggage.
- Some medicines need to be kept below 25C. If going to a hot country, ask your pharmacist for advice on storage (thermos flask, ice pack, cool bag, insulated pouch).
To avoid problems, travel with a copy of your prescription and a letter from your GP with details of your condition and medication with generic names not just brand names.
If you use needles/syringes (eg insulin for diabetes) the letter should confirm this.
The letter will be useful if you do need medical treatment on holiday.Think about getting it translated into the language of the country/countries that you're visiting.
You’re allowed to carry essential medicines, including inhalers and liquid dietary foodstuffs over 100ml in your hand luggage. You must get prior approval from the airline and departure airport as well as a doctor’s letter/copy of your prescription.
You can take medical equipment on board with you only if essential for your journey - syringes, CPAP machine (for obstructive sleep apnoea), TENS machine (for pain relief, eg arthritis).
For cooling gel packs in hand luggage you usually need prior approval from the airline/airport. If you need an oxygen cylinder, contact the airline.
Medicines and equipment are screened separately and you must show a letter from your doctor.
Missing or Lost Medicine
If medication goes missing, don't panic. You can buy most medicines in pharmacies abroad. If you have comprehensive travel insurance, the 24-hour emergency assistance helpline service can help track down specialist medicines.
Controlled Drugs List
For current list please see source https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/Controlled-Drugs-List (opens in new window) and https://www.gov.uk/Travelling-Controlled-Drugs
|Brand name of medicine containing controlled drug||Name of controlled drug||Allowance in milligrams|
|Amytal||Barbiturate, Amylobarbitone||9000 mgs|
|Cyclimorph||Morphine Tartrate||1200 mgs|
|Dexedrine||Dexamphetamine Sulphate||900 mgs|
|Dihydrocodeine injection||Dihydrocodeine Tartrate||3600 mgs|
|Fortagesic||Pentazocine Hydrochloride||9000 mgs|
|Fortral suppositories||Pentazocine Lactate||5400 mgs|
|Fortral||Pentazocine Lactate||5400 mgs|
|Fortral||Pentazocine Hydrochloride||9000 mgs|
|Fortral injection||Pentazocine Lactate||5400 mgs|
|Ionamin||Phentermine as resin complex||450 mgs|
|MST Continus||Morphine Sulphate||1200 mgs|
|Oramorph||Morphine Sulphate||1200 mgs|
|Oramorph Concentration||Morphine Sulphate||1200 mgs|
|Oramorph Unit Dose||Morphine Sulphate||1200 mgs|
|Palfium||Dextromoramide (as Tartrate)||900 mgs|
|Palfium Suppositories||Dextromoramide (as Tartrate)||900 mgs|
|Pamergan P100||Pethidine Hydrochloride||2250 mgs|
|Pentazocine injection||Pentazocine Lactate||5400 mgs|
|Pentazocine||Pentazocine Hydrochloride||9000 mgs|
|Pentazocine suppositories||Pentazocine Lactate||5400 mgs|
|Pethidine||Pethidine Hydrochloride||2250 mgs|
|Pethidine injection||Pethidine Hydrochloride||2250 mgs|
|Phenobarbitone||Barbiturate, Phenobarbitone||2700 mgs|
|Physeptone||Methadone Hydrochloride||500 mgs|
|Physeptone injection||Methadone Hydrochloride||500 mgs|
|Ritalin||Methylphenidate Hydrochloride||900 mgs|
|Seconal Sodium||Quinalbarbitone Sodium||3000 mgs|
|Sevredol||Morphine Sulphate||1200 mgs|
|Sodium Amytal||Amylobarbitone Sodium||9000 mgs|
|Sodium Amytal injection||Amylobarbitone Sodium||9000 mgs|
|Sublimaze||Narcotic Analgesic, Fentanyl||45 mgs|
|Temgesic injection||Buprenorphine||24 mgs|
|Tuinal||Quinal Barbitone Sodium||3000 mgs|