8 August 2022

Travelling to Australia with medicines and medical devices

International visitors and Australian residents returning from holidays can bring in most medicines and medical devices in their accompanied baggage under the traveller's exemption.

Prescription medicines such as morphine, oxycodone, methadone, methylphenidate, Adderall®, and benzodiazepines are all covered by the traveller exemption outlined below.

Note: Australian residents require a valid prescription from an Australian doctor for the medication they are travelling with.

Special notice concerning codeine medications:

From 1 February 2018, all medications containing codeine require a prescription from your Doctor.

For travellers this means for any medication containing codeine, of any strength, that you bring into Australia for your own personal use, you must have a prescription or letter from your doctor and comply with all other requirements as detailed in the 'Traveller's Exemption' section below.

Traveller's exemption

The traveller's exemption allows people entering Australia to carry their medicines and medical devices with them for their own personal use or the use by an immediate family member who is travelling with them, such as an infant.

Follow these simple rules to avoid issues at the border:

  1. Obtain a prescription to confirm that the medicines you are carrying have been prescribed to you, or provide a letter from your doctor that states you are under their treatment and that the medication(s) you are carrying have been prescribed for your personal use. Your doctor's letter must specify the name of the medicine and dosage.
  2. Ensure the medication remains in its original packaging with the dispensing label intact. This will assist with identifying each substance at the border.
  3. You may only bring 3 months' supply of medicine into Australia. You will need to consult with an Australian-Registered doctor for additional medications once you have arrived in Australia.
  4. Declare all medication to Australian Border Force upon arrival.

This exemption only applies to medication in your accompanied baggage.

Do not bring medicines or medical devices into Australia for anyone other than yourself or an immediate family member who is travelling with you.

Items that require special permission

The following items require permission from the Therapeutic Goods Administration when travelling to Australia:

  • Injections that contain material of human or animal origin (e.g. Hizentra®, Clexane®).
    • You do not need permission to bring insulin with you for personal use

If you run out of medication, you will need to either see a doctor to discuss your options for procuring a further supply locally.

Prohibited items

Travellers may not bring the following substances into Australia

  • Abortifacients (e.g. mifepristone - RU486)
  • Yohimbe (Yohimbine
  • Aminophenazone, amidopyrine, aminopyrine, dipyrone, metamizole
  • Amygdalin/laetrile

Travelling from Australia with medicines and medical devices

We recommend that all Australians who are planning to travel overseas with medication follow the same travel advice given for travellers entering Australia under the traveller's exemption.

It is important to note that some countries have very strict rules regarding certain types of medications (especially narcotics), being brought into their country. The Office of Drug Control is not in a position to provide advice on the exact rules and regulations for each country.

If you have concerns about the medication you are travelling with, check the 'Health' section of the country in question on SmartTraveller.

Note: The Office of Drug Control is not able to authorise documents to confirm legal authority of the traveller to possess a medication. If a person is travelling to a country that requires official documentation endorsed by the government, we recommend that the above standard travel advice is followed.

Things to Remember

Medicines supplied under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) are subsidised by the Australian Government for personal use only. Carrying PBS medicines overseas with you for someone other than you or an immediate family member who is travelling with you on the same aircraft/ship is illegal and carries penalties of up to $5,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment. Further information regarding the PBS is available Deparment of Human Services website.

Border officials have the power to seize any medicines they suspect you are taking overseas for somebody else.

Find out more information about staying healthy and travelling with medicines to specific countries at the SmartTraveller website.