Medication warning for British holidaymakers

Holidaymakers are being warned that carrying cold remedies or sleeping pills in certain countries could land them in trouble.

Some little-known facts on carrying medicines abroad have been highlighted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in a bid to prevent British tourists falling foul of local laws this summer.

In Japan, for example, medication containing pseudoephedrine — found in the likes of Sudafed and Vicks — is banned.

Diazepam, Tramadol, codeine and a number of other commonly prescribed medicines are viewed as ‘controlled drugs’ in many countries, including Greece and the UAE. This means that failure to comply with the local rules could result in arrest, a fine or imprisonment.

Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and strong painkillers all require a licence in Singapore, whilst in Qatar cold and cough remedies are controlled substances and must be accompanied by a prescription.

Medication advice

With Britons now travelling further afield, the FCO is concerned that too many holidaymakers are more interested in researching the weather than the local laws and customs.

Currently, just one third of people get advice on taking prescribed medication abroad before they travel.

With nearly half the population in England on prescribed medication, there could be around 21 million people in the UK potentially at risk at borders if they fail to do their research.

Travellers face having to get through their holiday without the medication they need as it could be confiscated at the border.

Foreign travel checklist

Britons are being urged to check the entry requirements section of the FCO travel advice page for their destination country.

Some countries such as Costa Rica and China also require visitors to bring a doctor’s note with their prescribed medication.

The FCO’s Foreign Travel Checklist also has links to information and tips from health professionals about travelling with medicines.