Travelling with medication

Travelling with medication can be a daunting task – every country seems to have different rules and regulations. YOURLifeChoices simplifies the task at hand with a handy guide to travelling with medication.

Before leaving Australia
Visit a travel doctor to discuss any specific vaccinations or medications you will need for the area you are visiting. This is particularly important if you are going to more remote areas. After visiting the travel doctor make an appointment with your regular GP. Take any new medications with you to the appointment, where you can discuss pre-existing medical conditions, ongoing medications you are taking and how the new drugs (such as malaria tablets) may affect you.

You should also ask your GP to provide you with a letter detailing the medications you will be carrying, what they are for, how much you have and stating that the medications are for your own personal use. This letter is particularly important for ensuring you pass through customs without any problems.

When packing
Leave all medication in its original packaging. It may seem more space efficient to repack pills into smaller plastic containers, but customs are unlikely to let any of it through. The original packaging should be clearly labelled with your name and dosage instructions, particularly if it is prescription medication. Pack all medications in your carry on luggage – this will make it easier when going through customs, and it means you’ve got it all with you in the (not unlikely) event the airline loses your luggage for a day or two.

Be aware that it is an offence to carry or post PBS medications overseas unless it is for personal use, so it is doubly important to have these labelled and signed off in a letter from your doctor. For more information phone the PBS information line on 1800 020 613.

Handy hint: pack a spare pair of glasses or a copy or your prescription. Glasses are easily broken or lost, and not being able to see can put a real dampener on your trip.

What if I run out?
You should take enough medication with you to cover the whole trip. If, however, you lose it or you stay longer than intended, you may have to purchase more overseas. Be careful not to buy imitation medications or prescription drugs. Although the packaging may be similar to what you already have the strength and active ingredients may be different, so have the packaging translated if you can’t read it yourself.

Find out what other items to take, legal information and helpful links by clicking ‘Next’ on the right.

Other items to take
If you need to inject your medication you should carry your own needles and syringes, as long as it’s legal in the countries you are visiting. If you do need to purchase spares, overseas ensure they are sealed and sterilised.

Medic Alert bracelets or necklaces are a fantastic idea (and occasionally a life saver) for people with pre-existing medical conditions. You can pick up an application form at your local chemist. For more information visit the Medic Alert website.

Keeping it legal
Make sure any medication you are travelling with is legal in the countries you are visiting. To find out contact the relevant foreign mission in Australia well before you plan to leave. You can find contact information at the Government Embassies website.

Helpful links
Medicare website (or call the Overseas Drug Division on 1800 500 147)
World Health Organization
Immunise Australia Program

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