Jump to content
Support, help, advice and information for Multiple Sclerosis. Ask questions and share experiences with people affected by MS.

Taking medicines abroad

9 posts in this topic Last Reply

Recommended Posts


I try and go abroad at least once a year and, in the past, have given little consideration to just how I carry my drugs with me. We always used to take a pill box and set out the meds on a day-by-day schedule. One problem with this is that drugs should be carried in their original packaging. I've never had much of a problem but, more recently, realised I should be paying a bit more attention to the formal requirements.

I've raised the subject because recently there has been media attention on Pregabalin and the likelihood of it becoming a Class C controlled drug. The reason for this appears to be two-fold:

  1. Pregabalin is widely available and has often become misused,
  2. There may be a problem with the addictive nature of this drug, needing it to be more closely supervised.

I might add that Pregabalin is not presently controlled. However, due to these problems, it is being considered as a controlled drug in future.

Thinking I need to be ready for my next trip in the year ahead, I decided to search the government’s websites and see what was entailed in taking a controlled drug abroad.



Yes, but specific requirements apply to taking controlled medicines abroad. Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled.
Read more  

To take controlled drugs abroad, it seems like it might be that you need a personal licence. It’s the first time I had even heard of a “personal licence”. Has anyone else come across this?

Yet more paperwork. or am I just getting my knickers in a twist for nothing?



Just another Warrior...........

Share this post

Link to post

I may be misunderstanding this, but if you go to this page, linked to in the NHS link you gave - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/controlled-drugs-licences-fees-and-returns - it says the below (italics mine for emphasis) which makes it sound like the personal licence is only for if one travels for 3 or more months at a time:


Applying for a licence: travellers


Travellers who are carrying controlled drugs out of or into the UK for their own personal use may need a personal licence if:

• they are travelling with controlled drugs listed under schedules 2, 3, 4 part I and 4 part II to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 for 3 calendar months or more

are carrying more than 3 months’ supply of controlled drugs listed under schedules 2, 3, 4 part I and 4 part II to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001


and further down


Travelling for less than 3 months, or with schedule 5 drugs


If you are travelling for less than 3 months and you are carrying less than 3 months’ supply of prescribed controlled drugs listed under schedules 2, 3, 4 part I and 4 part II to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, you will not need a personal import or export licence to enter or leave the United Kingdom.


If you are carrying prescribed drugs listed under schedule 5 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 you will not need a personal import or export licence to enter or leave the United Kingdom.


In both cases we advise you to obtain a letter from your prescribing doctor or drug worker, which should confirm your name, travel itinerary, names of prescribed controlled drugs, dosages and total amounts of each to be carried.


If you are carrying prescribed medication which is not a controlled drug you are also advised to obtain the above letter.


Does that help any? Although I doubt most people know they need a letter from their doctor for even when travelling less than 3 months, although I suppose a copy of the prescription (if you have it) or the chemist's label on the box should suffice? That said, I too decant mine into containers - popping multiple bubbles on sheets of meds is fiddly and annoying on a daily basis! I prefer to spend 15 mins or so every month popping all the pills into a tub in one go rather than having to do it several times a day... it's then much quicker and easier to just open the tubs and take a pill out. And I always keep several months' worth of the prescription copies - except for LDN which doesn't come with one.


By the way, according to the NHS link you gave, meds like Clonazepam and Diazepam, which MSers can be prescribed (myself included), would be included in the "controlled medicines", as they'd be listed under "medicines known as benzodiazepines". And if they don't realise LDN is "Low Dose", then who knows what they'd make of it if they assume it's Naltrexone, as even many doctors and nurses don't realise it can be "low dose".


(belated DX in June '05, SPMS)

Share this post

Link to post

Thanks Marina,


Its pretty complex and thanks for the additional useful information. I really don't think too many people grasp the possible implications. A recent media report about a lady detained in Egypt for carrying Tramadol for her husband is a case in point. That might be a more complex case, but (I assumed) that travelling within europe we currently would have no restrictions, just as we would not think about any difficulty when visiting different parts of the UK.

Clearly the advice is to take Meds in their original packets and (The good point you made) of carrying records of actual prescription plus a letter. Much more care needs to be taken if travelling to more distant locations.


On a slightly different note, I once found myself in a Swiss hospital having taken my elderly father in law in after he had become ill while we were on holiday. Asked what medicines he was on, we could only name them, and show them the pill box we had for him. We had indeed not bothered to take the original packets!

The hospital attempted to identify the pills, failed and therefor had to start from scratch. Moral of the story is don't take a 90 year old on Holiday!!!!!!!!



Just another Warrior...........

Share this post

Link to post

Re the lady in Egypt with the Tramadol: I don't think it can really be compared to the majority of travellers?

- Firstly, Tramadol is illegal in Eygpt as it's banned, which was her biggest downfall as it made it a crime to have brought in any at all.

- Seccondly, it was for 300 or so tablets. Depending on what dosage the tablets were, it could have been over even the UK allowance for 3 months' worth.

- Thirdly, you need a prescription in the UK for Tramadol, and prescriptions here are usually only given for one month's worth at a time. She apparently got them from a friend, so how and where did they manage to get 300 tablets? Tramadol is a Class C drug and, as such, it’s illegal for anyone to have it without a prescription in their name, and illegal to obtain it from or give it to a friend.


I think if you're carrying meds in hand-luggage, then it might be wiser to have the original boxes. But if it's in a suitcase in hold, who's going to know? If they x-ray your luggage and see what might appear as an excessive amount, then I might understand it, but I honestly don't think they're going to query every little box or tub they see on the x-ray. That said, I imagine some of us might have a ton of different meds to take; I wouldn't want to carry my lot (incl vitamins etc) in hand-luggage or it would fill it up!


By the way, when it comes to importing meds from abroad, including buying them online, even for a drug which requires a prescription when bought in the UK, see this link which quotes a letter from the MHRA:



(belated DX in June '05, SPMS)

Share this post

Link to post

Thought I might throw my hat in the ring here..

As well as my meds, Pregabalin included, I also have to carry an Epipen for a severe fish allergy.

I have a letter from the GP that covers the Epipen.

But the MS drugs, I carry in the prescribed boxes ( a pain, but I take my empty pill sorter box and transfer them in once a get to where I'm going )

I carry the repeat prescription along with them.

The ONLY time it's ever been briefly looked at by immigration and customs was when we went to the USA, it was only a cursory glance and he just smiled and said 'that's fine....and did I need assistance..'.


Yes lady in Egypt did indeed have boxes of the Tramadol with her, and no proof that it was for personal use....she said it was for her Egyptian husband.......either way, ( legally speaking ) Egypt will not allow anybody, including citizens of Egypt to use Tramadol, so her saying they were for her husband....sorta made it a 'open and shut case'

It's a banned drug there, you can't take it in...plus she didn't even try to declare it, even if that meant it being taken away, which may have helped her...In my humble opinion. The prescribed sentence for her was correct in law,


Legal hat off....and happy new year guys



Edited by Scully
  • Like 1

They are not brain lesions..........they are just bright ideas


"The truth is out there"

Share this post

Link to post

I am a 42 year old female and have booked flights tickets to Georgia (the country not the US state) in June/July for 2 weeks (I usually take an extra 2 days of drugs when I go away for unexpected delays), and having just checked the customs website about my drugs I am a bit concerned, and wonder if anyone else who has been to Georgia recently can put my mind at rest? 


I take Amitriptyline (but this doesn’t seem to come up on their bad list) and Pregabalin 125mg twice daily, which comes up on their psychotropic drugs list…  So the below says I need a photocopy of my prescription (fair enough), a certificate of the physician prescribing it (technically my neurologist but I suppose the GP whose name is on the prescription – if they are happy to even give me one no doubt they will charge handsomely for it), and then a document signed and sealed by an authorised person certifying authenticity of the prescription and the certificate.  Who would that be, would my MS nurse be ‘authorised’ enough? 


Then it seems I have to present this to customs control who will sign and seal them and my customs declaration, which I can (but not mandatory) give back to customs when I leave…  I don’t speak Georgian and will be touching down at 00:05, maybe travelling on my own, and just want to know what to expect from someone that has been there before with their drugs and documents.  


Thank you for taking the time to read this, I want to see more places on my shoe string budget while I can still get myself around (just about), and thought I'd save the easier to navigate Westernised countries until I need to really need to rely on their proper pavements and easy access to healthcare!  


This is a list I have found via a link on the FCO website of what I will need:


·         Photocopy of the prescription translated into English and certified by an authorized agency according to the rule determined by the laws of the country from where a natural person is traveling. Prescription should include the following information 1 :

o    Natural person’s Name, Surname, gender and age

o    Diagnosis

o    Brand and generic names of the narcotic drug and/or psychotropic substance

o    Dosage form

o    Quantity of tablets ,ampoules and etc

o    Method of use and duration of treatment

·         Certificate of physician issuing prescription, translated into English and certified according to the rule established by the laws of the country of departure

·          Document signed and sealed by an authorized person (legalized) certifying authenticity of the prescription and certificate and issued by a competent authority of the country of departure. Such a document should include the following information:

o    Name of the authority

o    Juridical address

o    Contact person

o    Phone number

o    Country of destination

Customs authority shall control the integrity of the presented documents and compliance of the information (comparing the quantity and type of narcotic drugs and/or psychotropic substance with the actual amount/type of items carried by the passenger). After the customs control, the documents will be signed and sealed by the customs officer and will be returned to the natural person. It should be kept during the stay in the country and may be submitted (but not mandatory) to Georgia Customs Authority upon departure from the country.

Edited by Marina
Paragraph spacing, separated list of requirements

Share this post

Link to post

Hi @SamOchs and welcome to our forum!


We have a topic in our "Spotlight" section about "Taking Medicines Abroad". Whilst we don’t normally merge similar topics, I think it’s a little different in this instance, so I’ll merge your topic into that one as it'll help contribute further to it.


(belated DX in June '05, SPMS)

Share this post

Link to post

Thank you

Share this post

Link to post

I'm sorry you haven't yet had any replies, I'm guessing nobody here's been to Georgia...


On 28/02/2019 at 08:35, SamOchs said:

a document signed and sealed by an authorised person certifying authenticity of the prescription and the certificate.  Who would that be, would my MS nurse be ‘authorised’ enough? 

In the meantime, if you've still not found out more, the above means the document needs to be certified by a notary (the "seal" is when the notary stamps it with red wax).


For reference, the list SamOchs mentioned can be found on the official Georgia site here: Narcotic drugs and Psychotropic substances. You might want to scroll down to the bottom of the page too, for further information.


For more information with reference to all countries, this might help: Travelling Internationally with Medicines Containing Controlled Substances


Good luck @SamOchs, I hope this all works out for you. Please let us know how you get on and if you had any problems once you got to Georgia?


(belated DX in June '05, SPMS)

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Topics

    • Claiming DLA whilst living abroad

      ADMIN NOTE, January 2024: The situation for claiming disability benefits when abroad has changed since this topic was first posted. Please see the latest information at the bottom of this topic in post #21.     Hi,   I know that their are several Forum members that live abroad, so I thought this may be of interest to anyone who may have lost their disability benefits after moving to Cyprus.   Fight to reinstate benefits from UK AN online petition has been set up to press the UK government to extend the payment of benefits to Britons living in other EU countries and Switzerland. The e-petition link is: Petition the Prime Minister to reinstate those benefits ( DLA, CA, AA) removed from expats. There is also a campaign started by expats living in France & Spain which will give a little up to date information, they are asking for people to join their campaign.   Make your voice heard on this issue. Join the campaign on Facebook: Link from Face Book to Petition   Extract from another article   A European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on October 18, 2007 declared that the UK had illegally stopped paying benefits, including carers allowance, disability living allowance and attendance allowance by over-riding existing exportability rules.   As such, anyone currently based in the UK receiving these benefits will be able to export certain components if they choose to relocate within another EEA state or Switzerland.   However, it should be pointed out that for those expats seeking for reinstatement of these benefits, the Department of Works and Pensions is 'still considering the legal implications of paying benefit to people who are already living in another EEA state or Switzerland who wish to claim from abroad'.   We have taken this issue up with our previous UK constituent MP, who has approached the exportability co-ordinator of the Department of Work and Pensions' Disability and Carers Service on our behalf - only to receive the same standard response as quoted above.   It appears, therefore, that Mr Gordon Brown and his cronies are doing everything in their power to ensure that those people - unlawfully robbed of their legal entitlement to an exportable benefit - continue to be prevented from receiving any monies due to them.

      in A Survivor's Guide to Multiple Sclerosis

    • The list of Medicines affected by no-deal Brexit

      This is for information about some of the meds many people with MS may take.   “What is becoming clear in this extract from the UK’s supply chain of medicines is the sheer scale already affected by either physical shortages or price increases as a direct result of Brexit, currently expected at the end of October. The breadth of conditions the shortages these medicines apply to is very wide, covering all age groups and everything from birth control, diabetes and painkillers to antibiotics, Parkinson’s and cancer treatments.”   The list of Medicines affected by no-deal Brexit - TruePublica TRUEPUBLICA.ORG.UK the UK's supply chain of medicines is already affected by physical shortages or price increases as a direct result of Brexit, expected at the end of October   Earlier, the Epilepsy Society, being as some of our meds are primarily for epilepsy, had posted this list:   Contingency plans for epilepsy medications in case of a no-deal Brexit WWW.EPILEPSYSOCIETY.ORG.UK In August 2018, the Government asked pharmaceutical companies to ensure they have a minimum six week stockpile of prescription-only and pharmacy-only medicines in case of...  

      in General Discussion about MS

    • Injections abroad

      Hello everyone,   Have any of you taken beta-interferon on an aeroplane before? In light of the terrorist attacks, I am a bit nervous about doing so. I think it's okay to take the medication itself, as it is a small amount of liquid, but I'm not sure if I can take the needle in the cabin. I could put it in the suitcase, but then what if my luggage gets lost? I have tried contacting the airline, but it's all very vague and they just say to make sure I bring a doctor's letter. I am getting my knickers in a real twist about this, help!   Best wishes, Catherine

      in General Discussion about MS

About Us

Founded in 2004, MS People UK is a community website and discussion forum by and for people with Multiple Sclerosis as well as for friends, families, supporters and those interested in this disabling condition.

If you’re newly diagnosed or want to ask about possible first symptoms, or if you’ve had Relapse Remit, Secondary or Primary Progressive MS for some time, a welcoming group of fellow MS sufferers is here to chat with you about MS symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.

The atmosphere is friendly whilst being compassionate, supportive and caring. Members also post about a variety of subjects not related to MS, as well as share jokes, talk about their hobbies, have fun, and more.

The MS People Forum is not responsible for advice or information supplied by members. We suggest you seek medical advice before trying anything.