Can I take my medication abroad?
If you are travelling to a Schengen country and want to take medicines with you that fall under the Opium Act, you will need to have a Schengen certificate. If you are travelling to a country outside the Schengen area, you will need a medical certificate. If you take these medicines with you without going through the necessary procedures, you may be in violation of local law and risk a severe penalty. So you should always ask the embassy of the country that you are travelling to what the local requirements are.
Medicines that fall under the Opium Act
Examples of medicines that fall under the Opium Act are:
- strong painkillers;
- sleeping pills and drugs to reduce anxiety, such as Valium or Seresta;
- medication for ADHD, such as Ritalin or Concerta;
- medicinal cannabis.
Ask your pharmacist if your medicine falls under the Opium Act, or consult lists I and II of the Opium Act yourself. These only list the active ingredients, or international non-proprietary name (INN). Heavy painkillers and ADHD medication are on List I. Sleeping pills and drugs to reduce anxiety are on List II.
Schengen certificate for medication
If you or your child is travelling to a Schengen country with medicines that fall under the Opium Act, you will need a Schengen certificate. The certificate, which must be signed by your doctor, states that the medicine is required for your own or your child’s medical use. The certificate is then checked and declared legally valid by the Central Administrative Office (CAK).
The Schengen certificate is valid for 30 days. If you are going away for more than 30 days, you must have multiple, successive Schengen certificates.
One Schengen certificate for several Schengen countries, or a medical certificate
A Schengen certificate is valid for travel in up to four Schengen countries.
If you are going to be passing through Schengen countries to a destination outside the Schengen area, you will only need a medical certificate, written in English. The medical certificate is also valid in the Schengen countries.
Applying for a Schengen certificate for medication
You can download the Schengen certificate application form (Pdf 355 kB) from the CAK website.
The CAK website explains what the procedure is for each country. Allow up to 4 weeks for your application to be processed.
Medical certificate for travel to countries outside the Schengen area
Contact the CAK or go to their website (in Dutch) if you or your underage child is travelling to a country outside the Schengen area and need to take medicines with you that fall under the Opium Act. They will tell you what procedure you must follow for the country you are visiting in order to obtain a medical certificate.
In most cases, you will need a medical certificate drawn up in English and which is valid for one year. To obtain this certificate you must:
- Ask the doctor who prescribed your medicines to draw up and sign a medical certificate.
- Send the certificate to the CAK, which will legalise it and return it to you. Allow up to four weeks for the CAK to process your medical certificate.
- You must then go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have the medical certificate legalised again.
You can see a sample medical certificate on the CAK website.
Legalising a medical certificate with an apostille stamp
If you are travelling to a country that is party to the Apostille Convention, you can have your medical certificate legalised with an apostille stamp.
Ask the embassy about the rules on taking medicines with you
Countries set their own rules and requirements, so it is always a good idea to contact the embassy of the country that you are travelling to. They can tell you whether you need a medical certificate for your specific medication.
When you are travelling, it can be useful to have a medication passport stating what medicines you use and other key medical information such as drug allergies. This is useful information if you need new medicines or visit a doctor abroad. However the medication passport is not a travel document. It does not replace the Schengen certificate or the legalised, English-language medical certificate.
You can get a medication passport from your family doctor, pharmacy, consultant, or other medical service provider. Medication passports are also provided by patients’ associations. The medication passport is sometimes referred to as the European Medical Passport.
Keep medicines in their original packaging
When you go abroad, keep your medicines in their original packaging. This makes it clear to foreign officials that the drugs are medicines, not illegal drugs.