Transporting certain types of prescription or over-the-counter medications in your luggage or hand carried bags when traveling through a German Airport or Border Control Point can pose a problem, especially if the medication is not properly prescribed, labeled, and documented in accordance with German law.
“Whenever German Customs finds prescription medications during entry examinations, they will ask the traveler to provide a written medical prescription,” said Fred Evans, U.S. Army Customs Agency – Europe deputy director. Without this or other proof that you are legitimately prescribed these medications, you could receive a hefty fine and become the subject of a police report. Perhaps worse, you could be denied entry into Germany.”
This is because the German Medicines Law poses many restrictions on medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that can be personally carried and imported into Germany. A great number of medications prescribed by U.S. medical authorities or purchased in U.S. based retail stores are considered controlled substances by German Customs officials.
“Typically, German pharmacies give patients their medications in the original packaging, as received from the pharmaceutical company. The pharmacy then returns the written prescription to the patient as proof. In the U.S., patients give their prescription to the pharmacy. In turn, the pharmacy places all pertinent information on the bottle (name, date, medication, doctor, issuing facility) and issues the medication in a bottle or other type of marked container,” Evans stated.
Evans explained that there are several simple ways to avoid unnecessary complications when entering Germany with personal medications.
“First, always keep prescription medications in the original container that you received from the pharmacy or store. Transporting several different medications in one bottle for convenience or transferring them into other unofficial medical containers will likely be problematic. Second, keep a copy of the original prescription you received from the doctor and have it readily available for inspection for German Customs officials. Third, and equally important, have an official medication list issued by your medical provider that specifically lists all the medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you or your family members are taking. Further keep in mind – travelers are limited on medicines to quantities that meet usual personal needs when entering Germany. In general, this equals a maximum of three month’s supply of the recommended dose of each medicine.”
German law also strictly prohibits medications, vitamins and healthcare supplements from being imported into the country by mail. These banned articles include things you order online or by mail order, or that relatives and friends mail to you. “Even items like protein powder, vitamins, supplements, or ginseng in highly measured doses are restricted,” according to Evans.
The local customs office can provide more advice on these questions. Information in English is also available on the German customs website at www.zoll.de/EN/Private-individuals.