If you are taking regular medicines, make sure that you have enough to last for your whole trip, even if your return is delayed by a couple of days. If you are going for a long time, check whether you can get the medicines you need in the country you are going to, as your doctor can normally prescribe only a limited amount. The trade names of some medicines may vary from country to country, so it helps to record the drug (generic) names of your medicines, as well as the trade (brand) names. For example, the drug anastrozole is also known by the trade or brand name Arimidex®.
Timing of medicines
If you’re travelling across international time zones, it’s likely that the shift in time will affect when you take your regular medicines. If there are only a couple of hours of time difference, you may want to continue taking the medicines at the same times you have been (UK time). If there’s a greater difference from UK time, you may end up taking your medicines at inconvenient times of the day or night. It may be easier to gradually adjust the times that you need to take your regular medicines to fit in with the local time. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you to plan adjusting the times of your medicines.
Restrictions on some drugs
Some countries limit the amount of particular drugs that you can take into the country. It’s important to check with the country’s high commission or embassy about any restrictions they may have on taking certain medicines in or out.
If you need to take some types of medicine (such as painkillers like morphine) in or out of the UK, you will need a letter from your doctor. This will also be helpful if you have to take syringes, needles, or portable medicine pumps with you. The letter should include:
- Your name and address
- Your date of birth
- Your dates of travel in and out of the country
- The country you are visiting
- The medicines you are taking, including the doses and the total amounts.
If you’re travelling for more than three months, you may need a licence from the Home Office in order to be able to take certain drugs out of the country. If you’re not sure whether you need a letter or a licence for your medicines, check with your doctor.
Getting a medicines licence
To get a licence, your doctor will need to complete a form and send it to Home Office Drugs Licensing. You can download a form from the Home Office Drugs Licensing website.
The Home Office will usually need at least two weeks to process applications for a licence.
You can get information on the maximum amounts of controlled drugs that can be taken out of the UK from Home Office Drugs Licensing.
Travelling with medicines
All medicines, covering letters and licences for controlled drugs, should be carried in your hand luggage, as customs officers will usually need to see them. Medicines should be kept in their original packaging.
With medicines that are not controlled drugs it may help to carry one set in your hand luggage and another in your suitcase, so that if one set goes missing you still have the other. It can also help to keep a list of the medicines you are taking, along with the doses, so that if you lose them you can try and get replacements. Always use the generic name of the medicine as brand names can vary from country to country.
Liquid medicines in hand luggage
Most liquids in your hand luggage are restricted to a maximum of 100ml. However, liquid medicines and liquid diets that are needed during the flight can be taken on a plane without restriction. Before carrying over 100ml of a liquid you will need to get agreement from the airline and the departure airport. You will also need to bring a letter from your doctor and be prepared to verify the liquids by tasting them.
There is more information about carrying liquids in your hand luggage in the 'Transport for you' section of the Department for Transport website www.dft.gov.uk
Keeping medicines cool
If you’re taking medicines that need to be kept cool, you can get small cool bags from your chemist for the journey. It will help to check with your hotel whether there will be a fridge in your room. If not, ask them if there is somewhere secure where your medicines can be stored safely.