Medicine Supply For British Nationals Going Abroad




Plan Ahead 

If you're taking medicines for a health condition, and you're planning on being away from home for a while, it's good to be prepared.

Please see further advice about the provision of healthcare services whilst abroad on the NHS website 


Going abroad for less than three months 

Your GP will usually be willing to prescribe up to a maximum of three months’ supply of your regular medicines. 

However, please be aware that if a medicine requires frequent monitoring or your clinical condition is not stable, it may not be appropriate for the GP to prescribe for such an extended period.

Note, in addition, that your GP is not responsible for prescribing medication required for conditions which may arise while travelling e.g. diarrhoea medicine, travel sickness, diazepam for anxious flyers. 


Going abroad for more than three months 

The National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) Regulations 2004, states that a person who leaves the UK with the intention of being away for a period of at least three months is removed from the doctor's list and, as a consequence, ceases to be eligible for NHS treatment.

If you are no longer resident in the UK and are living abroad, the NHS normally won't pay for any treatment or services. This includes people who are in receipt of UK state retirement pensions. No longer resident, means that you have left the country for more than three months. Therefore, you will have to obtain healthcare cover in the country you are in, or get private medical insurance. If you are going abroad for more than 3 months then all you are entitled to at NHS expense is a sufficient supply of your regular medication to get to the destination and find an alternative supply of that medication. The maximum quantity that can be supplied is sufficient for 3 months. You should take a copy of your repeat medication list with you. It may be worthwhile having your prescription translated into the language of the country or countries that you're visiting.


Travelling with your medication 

You will need to find out whether there are any restrictions on taking your medicines in and out of the UK or the country you are visiting, as some medicines that are available over the counter in the UK may be controlled in other countries and vice versa. If you're in any doubt, you should declare them at customs when you return. For example, some prescribed medicines, such as morphine, are controlled drugs, so the amount you can take abroad is limited. If you need to take more than the maximum allowance with you, you'll need a special license from the Home Office. 

Countries such as India, Pakistan and Turkey have very specific rules about medications that you can, or cannot, bring into the country. If you're unsure about taking your medication into a certain country, contact the appropriate embassy or high commission. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website provides the relevant contact details for every country.