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If you are taking medications into another country, know the local laws by checking in with the embassy to ensure you're not bringing in something illegal or more than you're permitted.
We looked at 20 popular destinations for Australians and the conditions of entry with prescription medications.
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Most standard travel insurance policies do not cover loss or theft of prescription drugs. If you’ll be taking regular medication during your trip, you generally won't be able to find cover for them as the drugs are for a pre-existing condition. However, if you are hospitalised overseas and are prescribed medication for a new ailment, you may be able to make a claim under the overseas medical section of your policy.
Policies designed for senior travellers, travellers with disabilities and those with pre-existing medical conditions often include cover for medications. Your pre-existing condition will need to be declared, assessed and approved by your insurer before you’ll be able to purchase such a policy. Whether you can or not will depend on what your condition is, whether it’s under control and whether your doctor and your insurer consider you fit to travel.
Even if your travel insurance covers medication, you may not be reimbursed for the entire amount of your loss. It will depend on how much your prescriptions cost to replace while you’re overseas. A drug that is subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in Australia, for instance, may not be in a country such as the USA where replacement drugs may be very expensive due to that country’s costly health care system.
With certain medications, special conditions may apply.
These may be strictly controlled overseas, and even a prescription and doctor’s note won’t guarantee your ability to travel with them. All of the following drugs are subject to international controls, and it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for alternative medications.
If your drug isn't listed above, you can find out if your prescriptions are legal by contacting the embassy of the country you plan to visit or by calling the Australian government’s Travelling with PBS Medicine enquiry line on 1800 500 147.
There are also limits on the amount of PBS medicines you can take with you overseas. To avoid potential problems at customs, get your doctor to write you a letter outlining your medications and the prescribed dose and confirming that they are for your personal use only.
Finally, never take PBS medicines out of the country for someone else. Customs may consider this to be trafficking, as the medication must be for your personal use only. Your medication could be confiscated or you could be prosecuted and fined.
If you have no choice but to travel with these, contact the relevant consulate well ahead of time, and try to find out whether there are specific steps you can take to make sure you don’t encounter difficulties.
With other, less strictly controlled medicines, you shouldn’t run into problems as long as you carry a prescription and a doctor’s note. The note should have your name and your doctor’s name as well as the following information:
If you run out of medicine while you’re overseas, you can see a doctor in the country you are visiting and try to get the local version, depending on whether or not it is legal in that country. Alternatively, you can contact your doctor in Australia and have your medicines sent to you.
You can have PBS medicines sent to you from Australia if:
To verify they are for your personal use and are no more than is allowed by law, your medication will need to be accompanied by a letter from your doctor or by a customs declaration form, available from any Australian post office. You’ll need to contact the embassy or consulate of the country you’re visiting to determine whether your medication is legal there.Back to top
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Where applicable, a doctor’s note may help you take your non-prescription medicine through border controls more easily. To improve your chances of being able to travel with your non-prescription or over-the-counter medication, you should include this form and follow these simple tips:
It’s important to realize that just because a specific medication is easily available over the counter in Australia doesn’t mean it’s widely available overseas. You should try to determine if your non-prescription medicine is available and if it’s not, then look for alternative medicines that are available.
A medical device is defined by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a device used on humans to provide therapeutic benefits or to measure or monitor bodily functions.
Medical devices can range from bandages and tongue depressors to catheters, blood pressure monitors, prostheses and syringes.
Travelling with medical devices can lead to problems if you aren’t prepared. Here are some ways to avoid complications while travelling.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition that requires regular medication, here are some additional tips when travelling overseas.
Taking medication with you overseas requires some forethought. The following checklist will help you ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes before you leave:
If you're taking medications overseas, you may have a pre-existing medical condition. Pre-existing medical conditions add risk to you travels. To be on the safer side, check out our travel insurance options to get you covered for the unexpected so you're not left out of pocket. AllClear offers cover for all declared pre-existing conditions, if you want to check out our other brands, start your search here.
Remember to declare any conditions you're taking prescription medications for to the insurer to make sure you're covered.
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