Travelers often pack medications when they go abroad, but some prescription and over-the-counter ones Americans use for things like pain relief, better sleep, allergies and even the common cold are illegal in some countries.

Most travelers won’t run into problems for carrying small amounts for personal use, said Katherine L. Harmon, who oversees health analysis for iJET International, a travel risk management company. She shared a few tips to keep you on the right side of the law.

PLAN AHEAD Laws vary and there is no central repository, so Harmon suggests consulting your physician, travel medical insurance company, or pharmacist four to six weeks before traveling. “When you inquire about your shots, ask about medications. Odds are they may not know off the top of their head, but they have the resources to find out.”

LABEL AND PACK YOUR MEDICATION PROPERLY Carry all of your medication — even vitamins and supplements — in their original, clearly marked containers or packaging in a clear plastic bag in carry on luggage. Make sure the name on the prescription, the medicine container and your passport all match.

OBTAIN AND CARRY NECESSARY DOCUMENTATION Keep copies of your original prescriptions, if you can. Better yet, obtain a letter on official letterhead from your physician that lists the medicines you need and why they were prescribed. Ideally, you would get this translated to the language of your destination country, so it’s easy to
read.

KNOW ACTIVE INGREDIENTS The documentation you carry should also indicate the generic and chemical names of the active ingredients, which determines permissibility, not brand names.

REDUCE OR SUBSTITUTE MEDICATION In countries where a medication is allowed, but its amount is capped, reducing your dosage or switching to another available medication is the best way to stay compliant. Allow enough time beforehand to ensure the smaller dose or new medicine works effectively, and consider making the switch before your trip to give yourself time to adjust.

Many thanks to the NY Times and TANYA MOHN for this information

 

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