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September 12, 2019

Travelling abroad with medications

Here are a few tips on how to avoid any hassles at border checkpoints if you are travelling with prescription or non-prescription medications.

Before heading to the airport

Remember that, while a drug may be approved by Health Canada, it may be banned in another country.

Before you slip it into your bag, check whether it is legal in the country you are travelling to, especially if the drug is a less common one. The foreign government office in Canada site can help you find out the legality of your medication outside of Canada.

Further information is also available from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. The organization provides advice on airport customs screening and compliance with the latest safety regulations.

Packing your medications

It is not worth trying to save space by putting all your medications into a single pill container.

Leave them in their original containers, since this simplifies customs and security checks.

Also bring a copy of your prescription that shows the following information:

  • The generic name of the drug
  • The brand name of the drug
  • The reasons why you have been prescribed the drug

You will need this information if your medication is lost or stolen or if a customs officer asks to see it.

It is a good idea to pack more medications than you will need, just in case you stay longer than planned.

At the airport

Carry your medications in a separate bag in your carry-on luggage.

To facilitate customs screening, use the family/special needs security line. The officers have been trained to assist with questions about travelling with medications and medical supplies.

Present your bag of medications to security officers.

Once abroad

You are advised not to buy medications outside of Canada unless a healthcare professional has recommended that you do so.