Scenario: Travelling with CDs

Parveen is giving Graeme Alton his methadone instalments for the weekend. He tells her he is planning a holiday in Egypt...

“I’m very grateful to you for everything you do for me,” he says. “I’m in a much better place to when I first started coming in four years ago. I’ve got a job and things are going really well with my partner.

“In fact, we are thinking of going on holiday – just a week, because we can’t have any more time off work, but also because the clinic says it can only really give me a prescription for that long. We are thinking about a Red Sea resort in Egypt.”

“Oh Graeme, I’m so sorry, but I think you might need to rethink your plans,” exclaims Parveen.

Why is Parveen so concerned?


According to the Egyptian Consulate website (linked to from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office), methadone is not permitted in Egypt.

With all medicines of this nature, it is best to contact the embassy or consulate – taking care to go direct rather than through an agency or other middleman, which the internet seems full of – and ask specific questions with a view to understanding exactly what restrictions, if any, exist, and what forms need to be completed or licences obtained in order to travel to the desired destination. In this case, Graeme’s best course of action is to contact the Egyptian Embassy medical office.

The bigger picture

Anyone planning to travel with a Controlled Drug Schedule 2, 3 or 4 should be prepared to prove that the item is a medicine prescribed for them when entering or leaving the UK, according to the FCO.

The best way to do this is to obtain a letter signed and dated by the prescriber that states – as a minimum – the patient’s name, the medicines (including strength, dose and quantity), the countries being visited and on what dates.

If travelling for longer than three months, or carrying a supply of medicine that would last at least this long, a personal import/export licence is required and should be obtained from the Home Office.

It is essential to check whether the medicine is allowed into the destination country. Embassies are the best places to contact. Trying to enter a country with a prohibited item can result in harsh penalties, including custodial sentences.

Extend your learning

• Travelling with any long-term condition can be cause for concern – diabetes is a case in point. Check the Fit For Travel website

Read what people with HIV need to take into consideration before travelling

• Pick a couple of countries at random on the Foreign Office website and see what the FCO advises in terms of travelling to them.

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