Medication abroad

Last Updated: 24/08/2017

It is strongly advised to obtain a letter from your prescribing doctor, which should confirm your name, travel itinerary, names of prescribed and/ or controlled drugs, dosages and total amounts of each to be carried on your trip.


Packing medicines

If possible, try to take enough medication for your whole trip, as well as extra in case of delays. If your medication has to be kept refrigerated, you could store it in a small cool bag, obtainable from chemists, or in a Frio cooling wallet. These, along with other essential medical supplies such as diarrhoea and redhydration kits can be found at specialist travel clinics such as Nomad Travel

When planning extended trips abroad, you may need to get new supplies of your medication whist travelling. Depending on where you travel this may be obtainable either from local doctors or as a private prescription. Plan for this by taking a copy of your prescription with you.

It is always a good idea to take an emergency kit which includes over-the-counter medicines, such as anti-diarrhoeals (eg Imodium, Lomotil), anti-spasmodics, (eg Buscopan, Colofac) rehydration sachets (eg Dioralyte, Electrolate, Rehidrat) and pain killers (eg paracetamol). Details of this can be found on the travel and IBD page.


Taking medicines abroad

When travelling abroad you should follow the following advice:

  • Keep your medication in their original packaging to show at customs.
  • Ensure you have a letter from your GP or consultant outlining your medication, this will be essential if you are carrying medication in liquid form over 100mls
  • Store medication in your hand luggage when flying in case your luggage is lost.
  • Check with your airline before you fly whether you can carry your medications in your hand luggage, especially if you need to take syringes.
  • If you are travelling across different time zones you should discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist who will be able to advise you what to do.

Travelling with humira (Adalimumab) or Golimumab (Simponi)

  • If you are travelling with medication that needs to be kept cold, you can obtain a variety of useful cooling travel wallets from Frio Uk 
  • Humira can  be kept out of the fridge at room temperature (25°c) for up to 14 days. Once it is taken out of the fridge it must be used within 14 days or discarded.

Travelling with Controlled drugs

Controlled drugs include medications such as Codeine, morphine, diazepam. If you are taking a controlled drug and plan to travel for 3 months or more or intend to carry more than 3 month supply of medication, you will need to apply for a personal license to authorise you to carry this medication.

You should apply for the license at least 10 working days before your travel date and provide the following:

  • A completed application form for a personal export/import licence
  • A letter from your prescribing doctor , which must confirm your name, travel itinerary, names of prescribed controlled drugs, dosages and total amounts of each to be carried

To apply for the license to travel into/ out of the UK follow this link

Other countries may have their own import regulations for controlled drugs and prescription medicines. You will need to check with the embassy of the country you are travelling to or through to clarify whether you need a license.

For more informatin about travelling with medication or obtaining medication and healthcare advice overseas, please visit our Healthcare abroad page. 


Sources of Information

  1. Crohn's and Colitis UK website. Travel and IBD factsheet
  2. Department of Health. Guidance on controlled drugs: licences, fees and returns
  3. FRIO UK. Cooling wallet


  4. Electronic Medicines Compendium. Humira SPC . Accessed 22/2/16.