International Travel and Prescription Medicine
This article will be important to you if you’re travelling overseas and you’re currently taking prescription medicine. Not every country has the same laws or regulations regarding medicines and you could be breaking the law by travelling to countries that consider those medicines to be illegal. The consequences can be serious and severe – think possession or importation of illegal drugs. Some medicines (especially prescription medicines) legally bought in Australia cannot be taken overseas unless it’s for your own personal use, necessary for medical reasons and you have the evidence to support it.
What should I do if I need to travel with prescription medicine?
There’s always the option of not travelling with prescription medicine to avoid the legal issues, however if those medicines are necessary for your health and wellbeing, you’ll need to consider other options that won’t be harmful.
So if you must travel with medicine, you should:
- Read the travel advice with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and check with the embassies of the countries that you’re visiting to understand the legal status of your medicine in those countries. Familiarise yourself with the local laws and customs regarding entering and leaving those countries with medicine, especially prescription medicine.
- Ask your doctor for a letter or a prescription detailing what the medicine is, how much you’ll be taking and stating the medicine is for your personal use or the personal use of someone with you (for example, a child). The letter or prescription must clearly state your name (or the name of the relevant person), and to avoid any confusion the name should be EXACTLY the same as what appears on the passport (even quote the passport number or any other identifying information if applicable).
- Depending on the countries that you’re visiting, check whether you need to have the letter from your doctor or your prescription notarised by a public, authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and authenticated by the embassies of the countries that you’re visiting. If the letter from your doctor or your prescription (from Australia) isn’t notarised it might not be accepted or recognised in other countries outside of Australia
- Leave the medicine in its original packaging so it can be easily identified, and make sure the medicine is clearly referred to in the letter from your doctor or your prescription. Any discrepancies in your documentation could create complications.
As a leading provider of public notary services in Sydney, we assist many clients who are travelling with medicine to satisfy the various legal requirements to avoid complications whenever they pass through customs of countries that they visit – even if it’s for a stop over. Unfortunately, not only are many local laws and customs around the world different to what we’re used to in Australia, but the penalties and punishments (as well as the legal and justice systems) can also be different and perhaps harsher than what you expect.
Following these simple steps will give you the best chance of avoiding any unexpected problems, difficulties or issues when you travel to and from Australia to countries all over the world. Happy travels!