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Prescription Medications Abroad

Prescription Medications Abroad 

If you currently take prescription medication, it is important to plan ahead for your time abroad.

Some countries restrict certain medications entirely or limit the amount you can bring with you in-country. Be sure to confirm that your medication is available in your destination country, and if so, how much you can carry with you upon arrival. Check with the embassy of the country you are visiting or transiting to make sure your medications are permitted in that country. Learn the generic name of the medication which may be familiar to physicians and pharmacists if the brand name is not.

Be sure to leave your medications in their original containers and label them clearly. Pack them in your carry-on. Be sure that the name on the prescription matches the name on your passport.

If possible, it is recommended that you take a full supply of your medication for the duration of your program. Discuss this option with your physician. Be sure your physician provides you with a copy of the prescription and/or a physician's statement. You may need to present that paperwork when you enter the host country. Letter from physician should include name of the drug, quantity prescribed and the reason medication was prescribed. You may want to consider having the physician’s statement translated if you are studying in a non-English speaking country. Please note that Samford Abroad is unable to provide translation services. Contact the GeoBlue Global Health and Safety Team for help with translation or finding generic equivalents.

Once you have met with your physician and obtained a prescription that will last you for the duration of your stay abroad, contact both your pharmacy and medical insurance provider and alert them to your travel plans. When calling your medical insurance provider, ask for a “vacation override.” This override should allow you to buy your prescription(s) at your normal monthly copay rate. Otherwise, you may need to pay the out-of-pocket cost, which can be substantial. Be sure to make these arrangements at least 30 days before your departure, as your medical insurance company's process can be complicated and lengthy.

If you are unable to secure a three-month supply of your medication, contact the GeoBlue Global Health and Safety Team which is available 24/7/365 to assist members in creating a proactive plan for sourcing medication prior to departure or while in-country. Call +1.610.254.8771 or email