I just need to fly from Thailand to America and am considering using Qatar Airways. I know the word controlled substance sounds like a bad word so let me just explain in more detail. I have some sleep medicine, just about 4 pills of Lunasta with the prescription on a bottle that is my brother's (same last name). I also bought some Valium (about 4-6 pills) in Thailand that is in it's original packaging, no prescription. These pill woulds be on me, not in checked luggage.

I fly coach only and I plan on using this sleeping medicine to make the 26 hour journey not a sleepless one. I've got a bag of medicine I travel with that has other stuff in it too that would be in checked luggage. Stuff that is not a scheduled control substance but does require a prescription in some countries like ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine. And a lot of allergy medicines. Some with my name on them as a prescription and others not.

My wife suffers from migraines and since we are in Thailand I would like her to go ahead and get a prescription for pain medicines (narcotics) for that in case she has an episode in America. It would be a prescription for about a week's worth of medicine.

Questions/concerns: Will my stuff be confiscated? Will I go to jail? I've heard of the story where there was a young man who had some trace amount of weed in his shoe lace and was put into jail... My alternative is to fly through Japan but it costs about 300-400 dollars more that way for 2 people..

edit: and when I say narcotics, I mean clinical narcotics, like vicoden and tramadol. Not like street drugs... that word has some different interpretation.

  • 1
    Japan is not necessarily going to be easier. "Japanese customs officials have detained travelers carrying prohibited items, sometimes for several weeks" (from the US Embassy site). Narcotics are prohibited, even with a prescription unless an application is made weeks in advance and approved. – Spehro Pefhany Jun 10 '14 at 13:09

You're probably OK, but I'd still skip the narcotics and anything you don't have a prescription for.

All the Gulf states, including Qatar, enforce very strict drug controls. Qatar has a list of all drugs you're allowed to bring into the country, and if it's not on there, you can't bring it in even with a prescription. However...

You're not actually entering Qatar, you're just passing through in transit, which means you're not going to pass through Customs. Now, there may be a random check of incoming passengers at the gate, but these are rare, and if you have a prescription, aren't entering the country and only have personal use quantities, they are highly unlikely to care.

Also, while it's not the focus of your question, I'd be very, very careful about importing narcotics to the US. If at all possible, you'd probably be better off getting a prescription and buying them in the US after you've arrive.

  • So I checked the list. Valium and Tramadol are on that list. I think I'm going to bring my big bag of medicines (allergy pills, stomach pills, etc). And like 1 small prescription for Valium. The only thing I can see going wrong is a bunch of different cold medicines in tablet form (which are not controlled substances) being a problem/holding me up/getting detained for it until they determine if they are legal or not. – Zombies Jun 10 '14 at 13:31
  • 2
    That link has gone rotten. Qatar does have a list of drugs sold there, and it includes Tramadol. – Andrew Lazarus Dec 31 '15 at 22:41

I found this article that might help you:

  • According to the medical department of the United Arab Embassy in London, any medication is acceptable if it has been prescribed by a doctor and the passenger has a prescription including name, address and date of birth.

also the story that is told is about a transit with a delayed flight so it depends if you have to go through the customs.

This thread could also be helpful:

Either but your medication containing codeine into your checked baggage or leave it at home. Although you are very unlikely to get checked, if you wanted to legally import medicine containing codeine you would need (taken from the US embasy in Abu Dhabi, insert UK/NZ equivalents for UK/NZ citizens)

The Ministry of Health advises that unlicensed, controlled medicines can only be imported into the UAE through hospitals and not by individuals.

However, the Drug Control Department of the Ministry of Health [of the UAE] does have special regulations for personal import of such items: patients or travelers carrying prescribed prescription medications must have * their prescriptions issued by licensed U.S. doctors, * attested by a notary public, and * duly authenticated by the secretary of state of one’s U.S. state and * finally also authenticated by the Secretary of State of the U.S. Government in Washington, D.C.

By the time you've done all that you'll already have died. So just put it in your checked baggage.

And finally this article with more details on the regulations:

According to a 2001 decree, the Guidelines for the Customs control at Airports. Seaports Post offices and by road etc for the importation of medicines for personal use are:

Resident and non resident patients can bring into the country a maximum of 3 month supply of prescription medicine, for their personal use.

Psychotropic medicines 1 can be brought by non residents to cover their personal consumption for a maximum of 3 month period.

Psychotropic medicines can be brought in by resident in a quantity sufficient for 1 month consumption. However, residents can bring a 'maximum 3 month supply if the medicine is not available in the UAE provided that they obtain the prior approval of the Drug Control Department.

Resident and non resident patients should not bring narcotic medicines into the country without the prior approval from the Ministry of Health.

Each case will be studied and approved. A valid prescription and medical report from the concerned hospital or department will be required.

Medicines that arrive in the country via postal courier can not be released to the patient unless the above requirements are fulfilled.

In my opinion, you should get a prescription for any drugs you might have with you during the transit.

I hope I could be of any help.

  • 9
    Qatar is not one of the United Arab Emirates. – lambshaanxy Jun 10 '14 at 11:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.