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Leaving Australia

Taking medicines or medical devices out of Australia

Issues surrounding taking medicines or medical devices overseas can cause a great deal of stress for travellers, especially elderly travellers, who often have pre-existing health conditions and increased health concerns. There are no restrictions on taking medicines for your own personal use out of Australia. However, you should be aware that there are some restrictions on what medicines you can take into certain countries.

This should not be a barrier to travel if you follow a few simple rules:

  1. Talk to your doctor or a travel medicine specialist and discuss any prescription or over the counter medicines that you will need to take with you; take only those you require for your own personal use.
  2. If you or your doctor have any doubts about whether there are any restrictions on taking the medicines you need into the countries you are planning to visit, you should contact the appropriate Embassy or Consulate of the country you are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there.
  3. Carry a letter from your prescriber with your prescription medicines. The letter should include the name of the medicine, how much you are taking, and state that the medicine is for your personal use.
  4. All prescription medicines should be kept in their original container displaying your name and dosage requirements, and carried in hand luggage to prevent their loss.

Take an adequate supply

Because a prescription from your doctor here cannot be filled overseas, and familiar over the counter medicines may not be available in foreign countries, it is also important to carry an adequate supply for the entire trip plus some extra in case of travel disruption or delay.

Legal information

Carrying or sending Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) supplied medicines overseas that are not for your own personal use (or for the use of someone travelling from Australia with you) is illegal and can attract a penalty of up to $5000 and/or 2 years imprisonment.

Customs authorities have the power to detain any medication which they suspect you are taking or sending overseas for the use of somebody else . For more information you may phone Medicare Australia's Travelling with PBS Medicine enquiry line 1800 500 147 or visit the Medicare website.

Some medicines, particularly those classified as Controlled Drugs or medicines of addiction (such as medicines containing Codeine 30mg or strong painkillers prescribed from a Pain Unit) even when obtained on a legal prescription in Australia, should not be transported across international borders unless they are accompanied by a customs clearance from the country concerned. You must apply to the appropriate Consulate or Embassy for this.

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Web page last updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2014