I have to take some medication every day, so when I go travelling I take a whole bunch of pills with me but eventually after a few months I run out. In Western Europe and North America I need a prescription for the medication, but in many third world countries I could just buy it over the counter at a pharmacy without having a prescription.

As I hit at least 20 countries when I go travelling, I am more interested in a complete list of countries than an answer for one country. Assuming such list does not exist, how can I find out for one particular country whether I need a prescription? Then I can do research for some of the countries I will spend more time in.

I understand that the answer may depend on the type of drug I am after. In some countries most medication may not require a prescription while other more dangerous drugs still do.

Even if people don't travel that long, they may lose their bags with their medication on a one week vacation and need to buy new stuff.

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    Nepal you can get anything from the drug walla; Australia lets you get OTC prednisone, but other drugs are restricted. Perhaps you could clarify the type of prescription ? Dec 30, 2011 at 18:05
  • I was hoping for a general answer without specifying the actual medication. Otherwise it is a very specific answer for just me and wouldn't help other people. Dec 30, 2011 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


I think a better solution would be to go to your doctor before the trip and ask for a prescription and a letter explaining the diagnosis and the need.

While in some countries a foreign prescription will be honored, in many it won't, and then you'll have to go to a local doctor (make sure your travel insurance covers it) to get a local prescription. That's when a letter from your doctor may come in handy. Make sure its written in an international language (English/French/Spanish), preferably native to the areas you're expecting to have troubles at.

I don't think its possible to answer your question directly without knowing exactly what medicine you're talking about.


The only way to find out is to check the government website for the country you are visiting. The situation can vary from time to time as drugs get reclassified by governments.

Usually there will be a government department of health medicines website, or the pharmacy regulator will have a website. Obviously many of these sites will be in local-language only.

In the UK for example, some drugs can only be prescribed by a hospital consultant and not by a general practitioner.

Your travel health insurer may have - or be willing to find out - for you. A travel health / inoculation centre may also have more information, but possibly not completely up to date.

  • While this is a sensible answer, it is not practicable because government health websites for many countries often either don't have such information or it is hard to find. Jan 2, 2012 at 22:14

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