Travellers be warned: Customs could class your medication as drugs

Travellers be warned: Customs could class your medication as drugs

Those travelling abroad this summer should be warned, certain medications that may seem perfectly normal to you are classed as drugs at the border. To take these medications with you, you need an official medical certificate; something that many of us forget.

Taking your medication abroad

Head of the Pharmacists Association (KNMP), Gerben Klein Nulent expresses that those on sedatives, sleep aid medication, strong painkillers and ADHD medication, all of which fall under the Opium Act, don’t always take a moment to consider that these medications can’t simply be taken across the border. “To do so, you need an official medical certificate, otherwise you are punishable by law”.

Some of the most commonly used medications in the Netherlands, which need such a certificate to be taken abroad, are oxazepam, oxycodone, lorazepam, methylphenidate (trade name: Ritalin), diazepam, temazepam, fentanyl, codeine with paracetamol and zolpidem. A pharmacist will be able to tell you which other medications you’ll need to have a medical certificate for when going through customs.

Which declaration do you need?

Here’s where it gets a little complicated, as there is no one certificate for taking your medicines abroad. Which one you will need depends on where you are travelling to. Those travelling to Schengen countries can visit the CAK website to request a Schengen certificate for medication. This will need to be signed by a doctor. Please note that the website is in Dutch.

If you are travelling outside of the Schengen area, you’ll need to contact the embassy of the country you’re visiting to see which medical certificate you need. You’ll need to allow up to four weeks to have your application for a certificate to be processed. So, if you are travelling abroad this summer, you should request one ASAP. It is also handy to take a medication passport with you on your trip. This will state the medications you use and drug allergies you have.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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