British travellers planning to head abroad with prescription medication have been warned to be mindful of the potential pitfalls, as different countries have different laws surrounding even the most innocuous substances.
Both the National Health Service (NHS) website NHS Choices and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have warned travellers to discuss travel plans with their doctor as many as two months before setting off on holiday, to make sure that they will not inadvertently take an illegal substance on a trip with them. Nearly half of the UK population uses some form of prescribed medication, which translates to a potential 21 million travellers who could land themselves in hot water.
In Japan, for example, any medication that contains pseudoephedrine (which is found in products like Sudafed, not the sort of substance that a traveller would necessarily think twice about tossing in a suitcase) is banned, while other countries either require a licence or have a full ban in place for anti-anxiety medication, sleeping pills, strong painkillers and so on.
“The Association of British Travel Agents estimates that about 25 million British people will be jetting off on their summer holiday this year – and we want to do all we can to help them stay safe and enjoy their travels,” Julia Longbottom, Consular Director at the FCO, told Mirror Online. “The FCO can't give legal advice or get people out of prison, so we are urging those heading off on their summer break to join the 16 million people a year who check our Travel Advice, to ensure they are properly prepared for their trip and avoid any potential trouble.”
As well as consulting their doctor, travellers are advised to check the entry requirements for their destination country and plan accordingly.