Travelling with medication should be a straightforward process, but with the tightening of airport security rules and different countries requiring different documentation, it can be difficult to know what you can and can’t take with you. Our guide to taking medicine on a plane explains exactly what you need to do to make sure you stay safe and well on your journey, without having to worry about the rules and regulations.
Talk to the doctor
It’s recommended that you talk to your doctor or practice nurse about taking medicine on a plane at least two months before your departure date. They will be able to advise you about any special arrangements you need to make, as well as provide you with documents that prove you need to take your medication or any medical equipment. You should also check that the expiry dates of your medication will be valid for the full length of your trip.
Which medicines are allowed?
As long as you have a copy of your prescription and a letter from your GP explaining the details of your medication and the name of your health condition, you shouldn’t have much trouble taking your medicine on a plane. However, since different countries have different rules about the type and quantity of medications allowed to be taken in, you may need to check with the country’s embassy to make sure you’re not breaking any laws when you get there.
Travelling with your medication
Carry all medical equipment and medication in your hand luggage, and make sure they are in their original, correctly labelled packaging, along with a copy of your prescription. You should also pack a spare supply of medication and equipment, as well as a copy of your prescription, in your suitcase in case you lose your hand luggage at some point in the journey. It’s also a good idea to check your airline’s regulations before you travel. If you’re not sure about anything or have any questions about taking medicine on a plane then give them a call.
Some medicines may need to be kept cool, so consider how you will prevent them from warming up, both in the plane and at your destination. Get some advice from your pharmacist about medication on flights and in warm climates, and how best to store it. Some solutions include ice packs, a cool bag or a thermos flask.
Going through security
While there are tight restrictions on the quantity of liquids commonly found in hand luggage such as water bottles and toiletries, there are special rules for taking medicine on a plane, as well as cooling gel packs and medical equipment. As long as you have a copy of your prescription and a letter from your GP explaining the details of your medication and the name of the health condition you take the medicine for, you shouldn’t have a problem. This also goes for ‘sharps’, such as needles, syringes or EpiPens – although it’s worth contacting your airline or airport in advance to check if they have special rules in place for this.
Have a good excuse
Did you have surgery relatively recently? It could increase your chances of DVT - a blood clot. Or perhaps you have a bad back problem or you’ve sprained your ankle badly. Explain your situation politely and ask if there’s a chance of an upgrade to spare you further discomfort.
If some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK, such as anabolic steroids and strong painkillers. This means that extra legal controls apply and you may need a personal licence to take these medicines on a plane and into another country. To find out whether you need a personal licence, visit the Home Office website and check their list of controlled drugs. If you do need a personal licence, you need to apply to the Home Office at least 10 working days before your travel date. Your GP will also need to provide a letter to support your application.
When travelling, it’s vital that you have adequate travel insurance in place, especially when you have a medical condition. The Post Office offers award-winning insurance cover for travellers, giving you added confidence that wherever you are, specialist medical help is only a phone call away.