Travellers often ask us about taking prescription medications overseas and, while it is illegal to take or send PBS medication out of Australia unless it is for your personal use (or for the use of someone travelling with you); there are some guidelines which you should follow. :
- Contact the embassy or consultate of the country you are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there
- Carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is and how much you will be taking for your personal use
- Leave the medication in its original packaging which includes the label (with your name, the name of the prescribing doctor, the drug and dosage and the cost of the medication).
- Carry essential medications in your in-cabin luggage in case your suitcase is misdirected or lost.
Australian PBS prescriptions cannot be filled outside of this country so it is advisable to carry enough prescription medicine with you in case of delays.
Taking PBS medicines overseas
Travellers taking PBS medicines overseas should make sure the medicine is legal in the country they are travelling to by contacting the relevant embassy, high commission or consulate before leaving Australia.
If you are planning to take PBS medicines overseas for your own personal use or the use of someone travelling with you, before departure you should:
- Check with the country’s embassy, high commission or consulate if the medicine is legal there.
- If it’s legal, get a valid prescription from an Australian doctor for the medicine and take it with you. If you can’t do this, print and fill in the Medicine Export Declaration form. Take it with you when you go through customs.
- Leave the medicine in the original packaging.
For concerns about any medicine that will be taken overseas, check the destination country information on the SmartTraveller website (under ‘Health’).
There are restrictions on the amount of PBS medicines you can take overseas. Check with your doctor before you travel. Customs may detain any medicine suspected of being illegally exported.
Call the Medicare travelling with PBS Medicine enquiry line on 1800 500 147 (call charges may apply).
Sending PBS medicines overseas
You are allowed to send PBS medicines overseas for your personal use, or the use of someone who will be travelling with you, when you are travelling through a country where the medicine is illegal, or when you would need to carry a large amount. PBS medicine can’t be sent overseas for the use of anybody other than the sender.
If you are planning to send PBS medicines overseas for your personal use while overseas, or for the personal use of someone travelling with you, you should:
- Contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country you are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there
- Carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you will be taking and stating that the medicine is for your personal use
- Leave the medicine in its original packaging
- Attach a completed customs declaration (available from any post office) to your parcel disclosing the package contains prescription medicine for your personal use.
There are also restrictions on the amount of PBS medicine you can send overseas. Check with your doctor before you travel.
Customs may detain any medicine suspected of being illegally exported. It is in your best interest to have a letter from your doctor explaining what the medicine is, how much you are sending, and that it is for your personal use.
If you have any questions, contact the PBS taking or sending medicine overseas phone line - 7 days a week/24 hours a day on 1800 500 147.
PBS medicines may be a prohibited export under the Customs (Prohibited Export) Regulations. Some prohibited exports are not legally able to leave Australia unless they are physically taken by the person travelling.
If you need to send a medicine that is a prohibited export, you must get written approval from the Department of Health and Ageing.
For more information call the Australian Customs Service on 1300 363 263 or email email@example.com
Once you are overseas
Before you travel, check with your doctor to make sure you have enough medicine for your trip, as you may not be able to get your medicine overseas. Remember you should not go over the limit of PBS medicine you are allowed to take overseas.
If your trip has been extended and you need more medicine while you are away, you have two options available.
- Go to a doctor in the country you’re visiting - take the original packaging of the medicine so the Dr can verify who it is for and the appropriate dose.
- Get it sent from Australia - before this however, contact the Australian Border Force to check that the medicine isn’t a prohibited export & ensure it’s legal to import into the destination country.