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Traveling to Scotland with prescription medications

Ok, I have researched and still have no clear answer. I even went to the Customs website and got no answer. So here I am, asking fellow travelers to hopefully shed a little light on this subject.

I take several prescription medications and over-the-counter medications that I will be traveling with. I have heard that you cannot travel to Scotland with any OTC med that contains Pseudoephedrine(such as Advil Cold and Sinus). I have also been told that Diazepam(Valium) and Tramadol(pain medication) might be confiscated at Customs as well as the 2 inhalers I use daily for asthma.

Each medication will only have enough for the trip in a bottle clearly labeled from the pharmacy. The inhalers are also labeled from the pharmacy.

Do I need to have a letter from the prescribing physician to accompany the prescriptions?
Has anyone else traveled with these medications and did you encounter issues in Customs?

Having my asthma medications confiscated would mean I would have to abort my trip.

Any information on this is greatly appreciated.

Posted by
8889 posts

Paula, what do you mean by "the Customs website"? You need to be looking at the UK customs website, as it is UK law that would apply.
"I have heard that you cannot travel to Scotland with any OTC med that contains Pseudoephedrine(such as Advil Cold and Sinus)." - I would take all such second hand claims with a pinch of salt. Since Scotland is not an independent country, there are no customs laws applicable only for Scotland.

The relevant page on the official UK government website is here: https://www.gov.uk/travelling-controlled-drugs
It says:

If your medicine contains a drug listed as schedule 2, 3 or 4 on the controlled drugs list, you need to either:
- prove it is prescribed to you
- get a licence - if you’re travelling for at least 3 months or carrying enough to last you that long

Since I assume you will be bringing less than 3 months supply, the licence won't be needed.
There is a link to the drugs list, which includes "Cathine ((+)-norpseudoephedrine)" as class 3. Is that the same?

Prove your medicine is prescribed to you
You need to get a letter from the person who prescribed your medicine. You might need to show this at the border.
The letter must include:
- your name
- what countries you’re going to and when
- a list of your medicine, including how much you have, doses and the strength
- the signature of the person who prescribed your drugs

"I have also been told that Diazepam(Valium) and Tramadol(pain medication) might be confiscated at Customs as well as the 2 inhalers I use daily for asthma." - these are all common medicines which lots of people carry.

In practice, customs officers are not stupid, and if it is obvious the medicines are for you it will be OK. Plus, customs only stop people randomly. 95%+ just walk through the "nothing to declare" door without being stopped.

Posted by
11530 posts

"Plus, customs only stop people randomly. 95%+ just walk through the "nothing to declare" door without being stopped."

I'll just add that one time when exiting Customs at LHR there were maybe 8 customs officers lining the sides of the walkway to the exit. They clearly had someone in mind to stop as they did not even blink or give a 2nd glance to the American travelers who were headed thru there. I did peek back in to the customs search area and the people in there that I could see were the ones with the giant suitcases that had been shrinkwrapped at their departure airports.

I suspect since you are posting on the RS website you will not meet any kind of profile/criteria for a search.

Posted by
18 posts

No! I have no plans to shrink wrap my luggage :)
I just want to be totally prepared and make the walk through customs as easy as possible without getting my meds confiscated.
Thanks for the information!

Posted by
18 posts

Another question...
Should I pack my meds in my checked baggage or carry it on?

Posted by
487 posts

Always carry meds in your carry-on. That way if something delays your checked luggage you have your needed medication with you.

Posted by
11530 posts

I agree with JenC. Always keep meds in your carry-on.

Also give yourself a few extra days worth of meds in case of delays either going or coming. Even if by some quirk you get checked in customs, they are not going to have a concern about you having meds for 20 days when you are only going to be there for 16.

Posted by
8889 posts

Yes, keep all medicines in your hand luggage.
The day you put them in checked bags will be the one day your bags end up in Outer Mongolia.

Posted by
123 posts

I take prescriptions through carry on in zip lock bag. Ask your pharmacist for a flat label for overseas travel identification that can be inserted into the baggie. My CVS pharmacist asked if I was going overseas; when I said yes, he prepackaged the meds for me.
He recommended purchasing over counter meds at Boots on Princes Street by tram stop. He was right!

I have bad allergies and had no problem finding UK versions of OTC meds that worked even better than what I get here.

Boots is great. I never pack shampoo, makeup, etc anymore because the Boots and TKX (UK sister of USA’s TJMaxx) are fantastic. Rick Steve’s is right...buying OTCs and toiletries there are a good excuse to shop.
BTW—-I just bring unused OTCs from UK back to USA in my suitcase. Never had a problem as long as keep in original packaging.

Posted by
475 posts

I traveled to Scotland last year and brought all my meds in little zip-loc pouches - both OTC and prescription. I clearly labeled them and had copies of all the prescriptions just in case. I had them all in one zip-loc bag. No one asked me a thing. Yes, most definitely take all meds in your carry-on/personal bag. I've also read on this forum that tylenol and ibuprophen may be a lot more expensive in Europe than in the States, so keep that in mind if you usually need those.

Posted by
123 posts

My experience is a better OTC selection than USA and Scotland is cheaper for OTC products than I pay in USA. Like any country, depends upon the store.
Hope this helps!