Could anyone clarify if tourists need to obtain pre-approval from UAE ministry of health to travel with controlled medication (narcotics, tranquilizers, etc.)?

I will be transiting through Abu Dhabi (and may want to visit the city briefly during the layover) and have been prescribed a medication which is controlled.

Now, the website of the UAE ministry of health seems to say that tourists don’t have to obtain pre-approval: https://mohap.gov.ae/en/services/issue-of-permit-to-import-medicines-for-personal-use

This service is optional for travelers visiting the country who wish to obtain electronic approvals, as it is allowed for those coming to the country to take narcotic medicine and psychotropics (controlled medications) with them within the limits of a quantity that does not exceed the patient's need for a maximum period of three months.

However, answers to a question on this website from 2018, as well as the UAE’s embassies in the US and UK and foreign ministry advisories of several countries (UK, Italy, Canada, etc.) seem to imply that all travelers, including tourists, must obtain pre-approval. For example, https://www.uae-embassy.org/permitted-prescriptionsdrugs-while-entering-uae#:~:text=Travelers%20must%20carry%20the%20prescription,allowed%20quantities%20and%20required%20documentation.

All Travelers carrying controlled medication into the UAE must apply for approval through the Ministry of Health (MoH) website.

I would be extremely grateful if anyone had up-to-date information. Thank you.

  • 2
    I would absolutely seek approval even if it doesn't appear to be needed... Drug laws in the UAE are one of the harshest in the world, you could face jail time and other not really nice punishments for it Aug 28, 2023 at 21:21
  • 1
    Have you checked the list of drugs that are prohibited to ensure the ones you want to carry with you are not on it?mohap.gov.ae/assets/download/ec3a8941/…
    – Traveller
    Aug 28, 2023 at 22:28
  • 1
    Apologies for the delay in my follow-up comment. I emailed the UAE ministry of health. They only said that no application is needed if you are in transit and don’t leave the airport. They didn’t comment on whether you need approval as a non-resident if you decide to leave the airport. I may just remain in the airport. Sep 25, 2023 at 17:46


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