Can I travel with natural medicine?
The following information is a general guide and in no circumstances to be taken as medical or legal advice. We strongly recommend that patients discuss their travel plans with all relevant parties such as, but not necessarily limited to, their prescribing doctor, Australian state or territory authorities, and if wishing to travel overseas with natural medicine, please check the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website, regulations in destination countries, as well as with your transport purveyor ( airline, cruise ship etc). Even if your medicine is legally prescribed in Australia, it may be illegal or restricted overseas. Regulations can also change.
In this day and age, with many of us on the go domestically or even around the world, it’s a common question to ask whether you can take your legally prescribed natural medicine with you.
The key starting point is “legally prescribed”, as in Australia, natural medicine is regulated within a pharmaceutical framework to help protect patients. Furthermore, prescriptions for natural medicine are regulated at the state and territory level.
Can patients travel within Australia with natural medicine?
All states and territories in Australia have legalised natural medicine on prescription for medical purposes which means you are legally allowed to carry your medication over domestic borders with a valid prescription. This includes travelling with the non-intoxicating form of natural medicine and other forms of natural medicine such as those that contain the intoxicating compound that is associated with a “high”.
DOMESTIC TRAVEL CHECKLIST:
The following checklist will help you plan your travel with your natural medicine. Remember that state and territory regulations can and do change, so it’s advised to check with the respective health authorities for peace of mind that you are not doing anything illegal. It’s also wise to discuss your travel plans with your prescribing doctor.
- Prescription: you must carry your legal prescription for your natural medicine with you. Double check that your script and ID match! The script should also have the prescribing healthcare professional’s name, your dose and the pharmacy.
- Letter from your prescriber: it’s advised to also have a letter from your prescriber describing the type of natural medicine you are taking and how much you are bringing. If you’re bringing a vaping device for administering your natural medicine, it’s also worth asking the doctor to list the vape and serial number in the letter.
- Keep the medicine in the original packaging and labelling as dispensed by the pharmacist, with your identifying information on it.
- If approved via the SAS pathway, ask for a copy (hard or soft copy) of your TGA approval letter from your prescriber for the medications with which you’re travelling.
- It is strongly recommended that you contact the state/territory health department at your destination prior to travelling with natural medicine. State and territory governments have specific requirements about prescription and possession of natural medicine which may differ, and may include that a prescription from a medical practitioner registered in that state or territory is required for lawful possession of the medicine.
- If you are driving inter-state, keep in mind that you can’t legally drive in Australia if you have the intoxicating compound THC in your system, and even small amounts can be detected by a roadside drug test!
Can I travel overseas with my natural medicine?
This is a good question, and naturally one that patients worry about. Even if your natural medicine is on prescription and legally obtained in Australia, it might be an illegal or controlled substance overseas! If you intend to take your natural medicine, the first thing to do is to confirm it’s legal in your destination country.
And then, you need to take it one step further and check what rules or restrictions apply. Depending on the type of your medicine, you may need to apply for a permit to bring it into your destination.
If you confirm that you are able to travel to your destination with your legally prescribed medicine from Australia, you may also need to follow similar guidelines as in the “Domestic Travel Checklist” above, such as making sure you carry with you:
- Legal prescription
- Letter from your prescriber
- Original packaging and labelling as dispensed by the pharmacist, with your identifying information on it.
There may be other requirements too.
Can I take my natural medicine on a plane or cruise ship overseas?
Before you even arrive overseas, there’s the issue of how you’re getting there: airlines and cruise ship operators may also have restrictions on what type of medicine you can carry on board. The Australian Government’s Smartraveller website has some info on travelling overseas with medicines, and you should also check with your airline or ship.
While all of the above may seem like a lot of checking, at the end of the day, it’s better safe than sorry, and will help ensure continuity of care while taking your natural medicine.