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VA supplied medicines

We are traveling to Estonia, Finland, Russia. My husband gets his medications (including injectibles) from the VA. Has anyone else done this, and what did you take for documentation for the meds? How can these be refilled if lost? He takes over 7 medications and in the past has always used a two week pill organizer---but with all I read about taking the original bottles and extra hand written prescriptions, I'm unsure how to proceed. Any help is appreciated.

Posted by
21724 posts

Unless you are dealing with controlled substances, I would not worry about the containers. I would take along the Rx orders with the proper names for the drugs and not their marketing names. You cannot automatically receive refills in Europe but the Rx will id the medication and the assist the local doctor to determine what needs to be done. We carry a few pills but have never been questioned when entering Europe because there is no place for them to ask the question. It is not a concern of immigration and customs is just a walk through the Green Door -- nothing to declare. You are good to go.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for the advice.

Has anyone familiar with the VA Medication procedure been through this?

Posted by
28 posts

My husband gets his meds from the VA, also. We're leaving next month for Scandinavia and Europe on our first international adventure. I was planning on bringing his "Refill Request Forms" which has the name of the drug, his doctor's name, the RX# and the dosage. He gets 90 day supplies which in most cases is in very large bottles, so I've been saving my smaller med bottles which will hold a 30 day supply for him and have printed labels stating what each bottle contains along with the RX#. Nothing my husband takes is 'life necessary' so we're not too concerned about getting refills if lost. I hope this will work for us and maybe for you, also. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
6642 posts

bobbled, you're asking a couple of different things in your original question. There are multiple reasons that for having documentation. Number one, is to show customs officials and/or police why you have these drugs if they ask, which is likely to be pretty rare. The second is to help a local doctor know what you are taking and why, if you need sudden medical care. But don't expect a foreign pharmacist or doctor to honor a unknown foreign doctor's prescription whether it is from the US VA or not. Certainly a narcotic or other controlled substance would be a problem to replace or refill.

Posted by
790 posts

If you can't bring the med in it's original container, get the pharmacy to print out what his current prescriptions are and bring that. I get mine from the military clinic and they routinely give me a list of current meds. Can't imagine the VA can't do the same.

I always bring enough for the trip plus a few extra just in case of some delay (airline strike, etc). I also put all prescription meds in a clear zippered bag (Amazon has several very reasonably priced ones in different sizes). This is separate from your 3-1-1 bag.

Posted by
11253 posts

People get very confused when told "original conatiners." Every country has a different "original containers".

In the US., we use plastic containers. In the UK, they use blister packs. Much of the rest of the world dispense meds in white envelopes.

You can use the pill container. Just bring a copy of the prescription--not the one the doctor writes--but the printed ones you get on the container. This will include your name, name of medication, dosage, name of doctor, name of pharmacy, etc. As long as none are narcotics, you should be fine. Most pharmacies will print out a copy for you especially if you tell them why.

One caveat.....check the rules of each country regarding how much you can bring or any meds that are banned. As an example, I'm going to Japan in October and I'm only allowed to bring a 30 day supply of any medication. If I want to bring more, I have to apply for a customs declaration before arriving in Japan. There are also some meds we consider OTC that are banned in Japan--anything with pseudophedrine and Vicks inhalers are two that come to mind. Check to see if the countries you are going to have any such rules.

It doesn't matter if you get your prescriptions from the VA or a private pharmacy when going through another country's customs. They just want something that says what it is.

As for getting them replaced, I doubt a pharmacist outside the U.S. will honor a prescription from the U.S. You may have to see a local doctor. But having that prescription info will help.

Posted by
7723 posts

The first time one of us got sick and went to an MD while traveling( France) we did not have the real names of the drugs rather the brand names which made it difficult for the MD. We always have the MDs printout from home with the actual name of the drugs on the list.
Regarding Japan. No one checked nor asked us anything about what RXs we were carrying. Once we got to the agent, it was very fast, a photo taken and , I think, fingerprinting.
We always carry out a printed list of our RXs from the doctor and pour all pills in baggies. Traveled worldwide with no problems ever.

Posted by
847 posts

Anecdotes on a travel forum are not data. Contact the VA directly for advice on policies and methods for traveling overseas with VA-supplied medications. You are not the first couple to do this.

My friends who rely on the VA have great things to say about the system but they usually try to talk to at least two different people when trying to get solid answers to complex issues.

Posted by
11253 posts

Regarding Japan. No one checked nor asked us anything about what RXs we were carrying. Once we got to the agent, it was very fast, a photo taken and , I think, fingerprinting.

I drove 80 mph recently in a 65 mph zone. I didn't get stopped or get a ticket. Therefore, you can also drive safely at 80 mph because I wasn't stopped.

Just because one person isn't stopped doesn't mean the law is never enforced. The same goes regarding going through customs in Europe. While most people just walk through, I haven seen people stopped, questioned and searched. I doubt the excuse "other people have done it" will work.