I’m travelling to Dubai for four weeks this summer to visit my son and his family who live there. I take several prescription medicines but I’m worried about taking these into Dubai. What should I do? Barbara, Walsall
You are right to be worried. The United Arab Emirates has very strict rules on what types of medicines can be brought into the country and the quantities. There have been reports of travellers being detained for having too many paracetamol tablets in their baggage!
And the official advice can be very confusing. There are no lists of the banned substances published. And just because you can obtain something on prescription or over-the-counter in the UK, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to take it into Dubai.
The first step is to check the advice on the UAE embassy website. It currently says that visitors can bring up to three months supply of prescription medicines into the country, but you should also bring a copy of the original prescription made out in your name, or a letter from your doctor. The UAE’s London embassy website advises travellers to contact the UAE’s Ministry of Health Drug Control Department for advice.
You won’t be allowed to bring medicines on the controlled list into the country unless you have prior permission. Controlled medicines can include some sleeping pills, painkillers, drugs for mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, some HRT therapies and contraceptive pills. Even antidiarrheal treatments, a staple of most travellers’ emergency health kit, could land you in trouble.
The best advice for all travellers to Dubai is to avoid taking any medicine into the country if not absolutely necessary. If you do need essential treatments, then make sure it’s in the original packaging and that you have a copy of the prescription. Some travel websites even suggest having a doctor’s letter, which specifies what each of your pills is for.