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Travelling Safely With Prescription Medications

It’s important to remember that some drugs that are legal in Canada are considered illegal or require a prescription in other countries. If you aren’t careful you could be delayed in customs, your medication could be seized, or you could face serious legal consequences.

Here are the steps you can take to minimize any issues while travelling with medications:

Keep all medications in their original, labelled containers
It’s tempting to save space by transferring medications into smaller containers or combining medications into a single container, but it’s not a good idea. Always keep your medications in their original containers and make sure the label is legible.

Bring a copy of the original prescription
Carry a copy of the original prescription and ensure that both the generic and trade names of the medication are included in case of loss or theft. A doctor’s note describing why you are taking the medication is also recommended.

Pack your medications in a separate bag in your carry-on baggage
Prescription medication is exempted from the liquid restrictions and must be presented to the screening officer separately.

Pack an extra supply of medication in case you are away for longer than expected.
It may be difficult or impossible to find your prescription medication in other countries, so always bring extra just in case you are delayed.

Check to see if your unusual prescription medications are legal in the country/countries you are planning to visit.
Before you go, you should check the status of any unusual medications you plan to bring. The best way to do this is to contact the foreign government office in Canada of the country/countries you plan to visit. A list of foreign offices can be found here

For more details and up-to-date information on travelling with prescription medications, see the Government of Canada website.

Travelling with Cannabis

Cannabis is an excellent example of a drug that that is subject to widely differing regulations depending on the country. Although it has recently been legalized for use without a prescription in Canada, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes is still prohibited in most countries. It is also still illegal to transport cannabis products in any form—including edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals—across the Canadian border. In some Asian and Middle Eastern countries, possession is punished by imprisonment and in some extreme cases, even death. In the United States it’s even more complicated because while some states have legalized recreational cannabis, it is still prohibited by U.S. federal laws.

A few things to keep in mind:

Do not take cannabis products across the Canadian border in any form without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada.

Not declaring cannabis in your possession at the Canadian border could lead to arrest and prosecution.

For more information on travelling with cannabis, see the Government of Canada website.


written by: Pam Jensen