Next time you’re packing everything you need – and maybe even some things you don’t – for your next trip, take a second to figure out whether you can legally bring your medication along. In Japan, something simple like Sudafed could get you into trouble, while over-the-counter medicines such as cold and cough remedies could cause issues in Qatar.
With the summer travel season upon us, everyone who takes medication should check the local laws of their travel destinations. As more people travel abroad, there is a need to be aware of differences in laws when it comes to things like medication.
While nearly 75% of travelers check the weather before a trip, only 33% of get advice on taking medications abroad, despite nearly half the population taking some sort of prescription drugs. Less than one in five people (19%) say that they would remember to check the rules on non-prescriptions like over-the-counter cough syrups or allergy pills before they jet off.
But it can be quite important – countries like Costa Rica and China require that travelers bring a doctor’s note along with their prescribed medications. In Japan, medicines that contain pseudoephedrine – which can be found in common products like Sudafed and Vicks – are banned.
Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and strong painkillers all require a licence in Singapore, while many prescription medicines such as codeine, sleeping pills and treatments for ADHD are illegal in Indonesia. Some medicines that are commonly prescribed in some countries can be confiscated, or lead to more serious issues such as an arrest, fine or imprisonment.
The State Department recommends that travelers check out its medication travel advice page, which can help provide clarity. As an additional resource the CDC maintains an excellent Travelers’ Health website that includes a wide range of information about travel issues related to health.