Travelling With Medications

Travelling With Medications

Fact or Myth: 

“You should repackage medications into a smaller container or plastic bag to save space in your luggage”

That’s a myth!

You should pack all your medications in their original, labelled containers when travelling. Keeping medications in their original packaging is important for your safety, maintaining the drug’s quality, and enabling security checks.

To learn more about travelling with medications, read on!

Packing Your Medications for Air Travel

It’s important to pack medications in your carry-on bags rather than checked luggage for air travel. In addition to the risk of your checked bags being delayed or lost, medications are sensitive to the temperature extremes checked luggage experiences on the tarmac and in the baggage hold. 

Prescription and essential non-prescription medications are exempt from liquid, aerosol, and gel restrictions—but you should be prepared to present them directly to the screening officer at the airport. Carry-on bag limits also do not apply to medical supplies, equipment, and mobility aids.

When packing your medications, also remember the following:

International Medication Restrictions

Medication regulation varies by country, and it is the traveler’s responsibility to abide by the judicial system of the country they are visiting. Canadian citizenship offers no immunity against drug-related offences.

Some prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, and homeopathic products are legal in Canada, but may be illegal in other countries. Additionally, some foreign governments require prior approval before you may bring certain medications into their country. For example, any products containing codeine are not allowed in the United Arb Emirates without prior approval from the UAE Ministry of Health.

If you are planning international travel and use any specialty medications or medications with restrictions, ensure that they are legal and available in the country you plan to visit before departing. Consult government travel resources, which may include contacting the relevant foreign government office in Canada or the country’s Canadian embassy or consulate.


Government of Canada Resources:

Travel Advice and Advisories by Destination

Foreign Government Representatives in Canada

Embassies and Consulates by Destination

Traveling with Cannabis

Using Medications Outside of Canada

Medication quality standards, insurance coverage, and types of medical treatments vary by country. 

Before travelling abroad, it is important to prepare for unexpected health care needs. Having documentation of what medications you take, how you use them (including their specific dosing instructions), and why you take them can help you access care quickly and safely.

Returning to Canada with Foreign Medications

To prevent treatment interruption, Health Canada may allow you to return to Canada with a single course or 90-day supply (whichever is less) of a prescription or over-the-counter medication for yourself or a dependent with whom you are travelling. To learn more about the required documentation and other restrictions, visit the Government of Canada and Health Canada webpages.

Travelers in Saskatchewan

If you are visiting somewhere in Saskatchewan from another municipality, province, or country and do not have access to your prescription medications, you can ask a pharmacist for help. 

If you take your prescription medications regularly, the pharmacist may be able to provide you with a supply of them until you return home or see a primary care provider. This service can be helpful if you forget your medications at home or run out of them while on your trip. 

To learn more about this and other scenarios where a Saskatchewan pharmacist may be able to use their prescriptive authority to help you, visit our Prescribing Pharmacist webpage.

Travelling With Diabetes Supplies

When travelling abroad with diabetes supplies, it’s important to plan ahead.

Have a letter from your primary care provider stating that you need to carry medicine and supplies for your diabetes, as this is required by some airlines and governments. This is especially important for injected medicines, as syringes and needles can present issues when flying and entering some countries. Also ask your pharmacist for a list of all your medications, including their generic names and dosages.

Always carry your medications, testing equipment, and other diabetes supplies in your carry-on luggage for air travel:

To learn more about storing insulin, visit our webpage about Proper Medication Storage. Diabetes Canada and HealthLinkBC also provide guidance on travelling with diabetes—including medication adjustments, insulin pump considerations, and other helpful tips!

Resources to Learn More

Interested in learning more? Explore the resources included here!

Government of Canada

Drugs and Travel: Do’s and Don’ts

Travel and Tourism Consular Services 

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA)

Medication and Medical Items

Liquids, Non-Solid Food & Personal Items

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

21 Tips for Travelling with Diabetes