Medicines and travel

Key points about medicines and travel

  • There are lots of things to remember when travelling and people often forget about their medicines – things like storage, knowing what to do if you run out of medication or if you miss a dose.
  • If you're travelling overseas, many countries have different regulations about medicines.
  • Here are a few tips on how to manage your medicines while you travel.
Travellers on a plane
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  • Try to carry your medicines and medical equipment (needles, syringes and so on) in their original, correctly labelled packages. 
  • Take a written list of your medicines with you. Ask your pharmacist for an updated list. This may be needed at customs or if you need to get medical help while you're away.
  • Check the expiry dates of your medicines to make sure they'll be valid while you're away.
  • Take enough medicines with you to last the time you'll be away. Pack an extra supply in case your flight is delayed, you are away for longer than expected, or  you lose any medicine.
  • Have a plan for what to do if you miss a dose. Usually medicines can be taken if you remember them within a certain period of time, but don’t take too much at once. Go over your list of medicines with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist and ask what to do if you miss doses.
  • Go over your list of medicines with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist and ask on what to do if you have side effects.


Some medicines can be kept at room temperature (below 25°C) while others may need to be stored in the fridge.  Ask your pharmacist about storing your medicines correctly while you travel. You may need to store some medicines in a thermos flask or insulated cool bag.

  • Check the rules for all the countries you're going to and passing through. Different countries have different rules about the medicines they allow and the amount you can bring into the country.
  • Check the rules for entering a country with medicines with the embassy of the country you will be visiting.
  • Take a copy of your prescription and a letter from your GP with the details of your medicines, including the generic name (not just the brand name as the same medicine can be branded differently in other countries) and what the medicine is for. This will be useful at customs and if you need medical help while you're away.
  • If you'll be changing time zones, talk to your doctor or pharmacist and make a plan for when you should take your medicine.
  • Before travelling, try to find out where you can get further supplies of medicine at your destination in case of an emergency.  

  • Carry your medicines in your hand luggage with a copy of your prescription, but check your airline's regulations before travelling.
  • Pack a spare supply of medicines in your suitcase or carry-on luggage, along with another copy of your prescription, in case you lose any of your bags. 
  • If you’re taking liquid medication on the plane, only take 100 ml or less unless they are essential medicines eg, insulin.

    Note: for essential medicines, you’ll need to have a letter from your doctor with you to be able to carry more than 100 ml of the exempt items.

The following links provide further information on medicines and travel. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from New Zealand recommendations.

Arriving into New Zealand with medicines(external link) New Zealand Customs Service
Travelling with prescription medicine(external link) Civil Aviation Authority of NZ
Passenger information – what can I bring? Medicine, medical and therapeutic products(external link) Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
(external link)Managing medications while traveling(external link) Epilepsy Foundation, US
Travelling with children who have diabetes(external link) KidsHealth, NZ


  1. Health advice for travel abroad(external link) Patient Info, UK, 2023
  2. Travelling with medicines(external link) Fit for travel, NHS, UK
  3. Can I take my medicine abroad?(external link) NHS choices, UK, 2021


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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Stephanie Yee, Pharmacist, Auckland

Last reviewed: