Carrying common over-the-counter medicines could land you in jail overseas.
While cold and flu tablets or sleeping pills may be part and parcel of your travel toiletries kit, some over-the-counter drugs freely available in Australia could land you in jail overseas.
Take Codral Original Cold & Flu tablets, for instance. The new formula introduced after Australia’s restrictions on codeine and pseudoephedrine does not contain those two substances. But older packets of Codral Original Cold & Flu tablets do, and they are both substances strictly outlawed in Japan.
Japan is actually one of many countries with strict policies on allowing similar non-prescription medicines into the country. Some countries have hardline attitudes towards these types of drugs, even though they may be legal and freely available in Australia.
“Even medications that are legal in Australia can attract heavy fines overseas or, in extreme cases, jail sentences in prison environments that might be much harsher than at home,” said Abigail Koch, travel insurance expert at comparethemarket.com.au.
Travellers are advised to research in advance any medicines they may need overseas and should obtain doctor’s certificates if the drugs are necessary for comfortable travel. Not doing so could void your travel insurance overseas and, worse, could mean you’re locked up for indefinite periods.
“If you have a medical condition, it is important to talk to your doctor to see if there are alternative medications you can take, and to get a doctor’s letter or prescription before travelling. It’s also crucial to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions and current medical treatments to your travel insurer, and ensure you’re covered for any health issues that may arise while travelling,” said Ms Koch.
According to www.comparethemarket.com.au, these are the countries travellers should be wary of when packing any medicines, over-the-counter or otherwise.
Addictive narcotics such as antidepressants or sleeping pills are not allowed without a doctor’s note. Any potentially addictive medicines need to be accompanied by a medical certificate and should remain in a limited supply in their original packaging.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE is one of the toughest countries on medicines. Any drugs included in the 70 banned drugs in the UAE could lead to imprisonment in many Gulf countries. In addition to potentially addictive medicines, nicotine lozenges, Advil, children’s Panadol and contraceptive pills are also on the UAE blacklist. Take note of any medications containing codeine, Valium or Ritalin, or medicine used to treat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. For medicines deemed absolutely necessary, travellers are allowed to carry enough medication to last 30 days, as long as it is accompanied by a valid certificate.
Restrictions include drugs that contain codeine and medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Possession of sleeping tablets and medications used to treat conditions such as erectile dysfunction or anxiety are illegal without a doctor’s note.
Banned substances include medicinal chewing gum, nicotine gum, anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills and strong painkillers, unless accompanied by a valid medical certificate. Medicines used to treat diabetes or high cholesterol are also banned if you have more than 90 days’ supply.
Japan has very strict rules on what’s allowed to pass in and out of the country. ADHD drugs containing dexamphetamine or cold and flu drugs containing pseudoephedrine are strictly banned and could land you in jail. Any medicines containing codeine or morphine also need a medical certificate.
You’ll need a doctor’s note for any medicine you take into China and any amount of medication above a seven-day supply also needs to be verified by a prescription that outlines what the drug is being used for as well as the recommended dosage. You’ll also need a copy of the prescription, as customs may want to keep one for themselves.
Greece takes a particularly hardline stance against medicines containing codeine and you’ll only be able to enter with a prescription outlining the active ingredients of the medicine, its use and its recommended dosage.
You’ll need to check any medications with the Narcotic Control Division of the Korean Food and Drug Administration before you pack them. The administration may approve medicines carried into the country by travellers as long as they have a letter or prescription from a doctor.
Over-the-counter medicines such as those containing codeine and pseudoephedrine may need to be accompanied by a doctor’s note or prescription.
Have you ever entered any of these countries with these medications in your bag? Did you go through this process, or were you unaware that they were illegal?
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