While there are only a few restrictions on what medicines and medical devices you can take with you when you leave Australia, other countries have different laws on what you can bring in.
It is important to note that some countries have very strict rules regarding certain types of medications (especially narcotics and medicinal cannabis products) being brought into their country. The TGA is not able to provide advice on the exact rules and regulations of each country.
Before you leave Australia, be sure to follow these simple rules to travel safely and legally with your medicines and medical devices.
Check that your medicine or medical device is allowed in your destination country
If you or your doctor have any doubts about what you can take to the country you’re travelling to, you should contact the appropriate Embassy or Consulate for more information. You can also check the ‘Health’ section of the country on the SmartTraveller website.
Some medicines that are legally available in Australia, such as those containing codeine, may not be allowed in, other countries or you may need a permit to take them into some countries.
You may need to apply for customs clearance for some medicines before entering some countries.
Be aware that restrictions may also apply to complementary medicines, such as vitamins and traditional medicines.
If your medicine is illegal at your destination, ask your doctor about alternatives before you go.
Talk to your doctor
Talk to your doctor or travel medicine specialist about any medicines or medical devices you are taking with you. This includes over-the-counter and complementary medicines.
It's important to remember that you cannot take Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines overseas unless they are for you or an immediate family member who is travelling with you. Taking PBS medicines overseas for someone else is illegal and carries penalties of up to $11,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment.
Customs authorities have the power to seize any medicines they suspect you are taking overseas for somebody else.
Carry a letter
It’s a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor detailing any prescription medicines you are taking with you. This should include the name of the medicine and how much you are taking. The letter should state that it is for your personal use only.
If you’re carrying complementary medicines, ask your doctor to include these in the letter.
Where possible, it is best to carry a letter from your doctor along with your prescription(s).
Visit the Services Australia Travelling with PBS medicines web page for more information.
Take enough for your whole trip
It may be difficult to refill your script overseas, so you should always take enough of your medicines and medical devices to last you for your whole trip, if possible.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines have an allowable limit you can take when you go overseas, which is different depending on your circumstances.
If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, make sure the quantity you’re taking is within the law and talk to your doctor about options for accessing medicines or medical devices overseas.
Carry medicines and medical devices in your hand luggage
Medicines are exempt from the 100ml limit on liquids, aerosols and gels.
Hypodermic needles are prohibited unless it is medically necessary for you to carry them. They should be accompanied with proof that you require them and be kept in your hand luggage with the medicine they will be used to administer.
Medicines to be careful with
Some medicines prescribed in Australia may be restricted or banned in other countries. Be careful if you need to travel with:
- medicines containing codeine
- strong painkillers prescribed from a pain specialist or hospital
- prescribed medicines of addiction
- controlled drugs - ask your doctor or pharmacist.