Can you take medication abroad?


Regulations for prescription and even over-the-counter medications like pain relievers and cold and flu tablets vary from country to country, so always check the rules wherever you are.

When traveling, you should take all medications (even vitamins) in their original packaging, along with the original prescription. It is also a good idea to have a letter from your doctor explaining what the drugs are (using generic names) and what they are used for, along with dosing instructions with you.

If you are traveling to (or transiting through) countries with strict drug laws, check with the country’s embassy to make sure your medication is not a controlled drug.

Bali and Indonesia

Certain Australian prescription drugs (including strong pain relievers such as morphine and codeine, sleeping pills and ADHD medications) are considered illegal narcotics under Indonesian law. Other medications such as paracetamol, antidiarrheals, and antibiotics won’t be a problem, but if you’re concerned about your medications, check with the Indonesian Embassy.

For a fee, they can write you a certified letter of approved drugs, but their website warns: “The letter is not intended to be legal or to guarantee that you will be exempt from all controls and the legal consequences that may arise therefrom. . “


Many legal drugs in Australia are restricted to Singapore. This includes certain pain relievers, cold and flu medications, and ADHD medications.

If you only go through Singapore’s transit areas, you don’t need approval to transport medication, but if you plan to stay there, check with the Singapore Health Sciences Authority. If approved, you can take up to three months of personal medication supplies.

Did you know that you are not allowed to bring chewing gum to Singapore, unless it is medicinal chewing gum registered in Singapore, like nicotine gum or oral tooth gum?


You can bring medicines to Malaysia as long as they are for personal use only and the supply is no more than one month of use. If you are bringing something unusual like syringes, strong pain relievers, or prescription sleeping pills, make sure you have a letter of explanation from your doctor.


Thailand has very strict drug laws. A number of drugs available in Australia, including certain cold and flu medications, strong pain relievers, and drugs used to treat ADHD, are classified as narcotic or psychotropic substances under Thai law. If in doubt, check with the Thai Embassy.

The Food and Drug Administration of Thailand has a list of controlled substances, some of which may be allowed in the country if you follow the correct procedures and do not bring more than 90 days of supply.


Psychotropic drugs are restricted in Vietnam. This can include medications that treat addiction, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other medical conditions.

Some drugs can be hard to find and some can even be counterfeit. Bring all of your usual medications with you in their original packaging with the original prescriptions.


Some common over-the-counter or prescription medications, such as cold and flu or allergy treatments that contain codeine and pseudoephedrine, are restricted to Japan. If you plan to travel with medication, be sure to check with the Japanese embassy.


You may need documents to prove the need for certain medications such as sleeping pills, strong pain relievers, and ADHD medications in China.

Otherwise, you can bring a “reasonable amount of personal medicine”, which should not exceed seven days.


Medicines legal in Australia may be restricted in some European countries. For example, codeine is considered a narcotic in Greece.

Check with the embassy of the country or countries in which you are traveling (or transiting), especially if you are taking pain relievers, sleeping pills, cold and flu medications, or ADHD medications with you.

United States

Some Australian drugs may be illegal in the United States, especially if they are not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Consult with U.S. Customs and Border Protection prior to travel if you are concerned.

New Zealand

You will need to declare any prescription medication to New Zealand Customs, and the medication must be transported in its original packaging, with the prescription or letter from your doctor. You cannot take more than three months of supply to New Zealand (a six-month supply of oral contraceptives is the exception).


When traveling to Fiji, prescription drugs or drugs considered to be a controlled drug, such as pethidine, codeine, or morphine, will require a prescription from your doctor that says they are being used under the direction of a doctor.

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