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What type of over-the-counter and prescription medicines illegal to travel?

Almost all nations ban illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana, narcotics, Methamphetamine, Amphetamines, sedatives Benzodiazepines, Ecstasy and other common over-the-counter medications. Travel with these drugs would detain you in prison for smuggling the pills. Some other countries have their own rules based on their health ministry. Some countries strictly banned a specific medicines but other country allowed to use same medicine in their nation. Prescription medicines or over-the-counter drugs use for things like allergies, pain relief, better sleep, and even the common cold drugs are illegal in some countries. The United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Sri Lanka for example, are among the most restrictive nations, have strict laws on medications considered at home.

Read: FDA Recalls Prescription Drugs

List of prescription and over-the-counter medicines banned in different countries:

The following are some medications that travelers may be taking, but in certain countries may be illegal or may need additional supporting documentation.

  • Taking Benylin cough syrup is illegal if you travel to Zambia, a country in Southern Africa.
  • In Indonesia, codeine is also illegal, as is ADHD medication and some sleeping pills.
  • Hong Kong and Greece are among the destinations where codeine is illegal.
  • Analgin is a painkiller that has been banned in many countries since it carries the risk of agranulocytosis. It is a condition where the bone marrow does not produce certain types of white blood cells.
  • Oxyphenbutazone is a painkiller belonging to the same class of drugs as analgin. It has been banned in many countries.
  • If you are travelling to Japan, don’t forget to leave your Vicks inhaler and Sudafed at home. If you’re going to Japan, this would be regarded as an illicit stimulant.
  • In Qatar, over-the-counter medicines such as cold and cough syrup are controlled substances and must be accompanied by a prescription.
  • In Singapore you need a license for anti-anxiety medication, sleeping pills and strong painkillers.
  • Propoxyphene is an opioid painkiller that may alter the electrical activity of the heart, causing problems in heart rhythm.
  • The other danger medicine is Co-codamol, a common painkiller, which is illegal in both Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
  • The Maldives, a country that is popular with newlyweds, has strong anti-drug laws.
  • This is the same in the UAE, Egypt and Turkey, who impose equally strict laws on substance use.

Medicines that are listed in the Opium Act are considered to be narcotics and sedatives. This includes:

a. Heavy painkillers

b. Sleeping pills and drugs to reduce anxiety, such as Valium or Seresta

c. Medication for ADHD, such as Ritalin or Concerta

d. Medicinal cannabis

You cannot take these medicines with you to the Netherlands. Travel with medicines listed in Opium Act can lead you in jail.

Other over-the-counter and prescription medicines illegal to travel:


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Note: The above list is not all-inclusive, so if your medication is not in the list you should still check if it is allowed.

Read: 8 Drugs Indian Take That Are Banned In Other Countries – Medications Banned in USA

Your prescription medication may be illegal in some countries. Which medications are allowed varies country by country. Visit the travel section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for details or Look up Foreign Office advice, or contact the embassy of the country you’re going to to find out. He also recommended not to take anything in large quantities, as it may look like you are supplying it. Lastly, “don’t take anything where you don’t know what it is”.

Other useful resources:

http://www.incb.org/incb/en/publications/ Guidelines.html, gives a listing of certain regulations from participating countries.

http://www.embassy.org/embassies/, check with the embassy of the country you’re going to before you travel.

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