Which Medications Are You Allowed to Take into Dubai?
The UAE has a strict no-tolerance policy around recreational drugs. There are some medicines that can be bought over the counter in one country but will be controlled substances in Dubai and the rest of the UAE. People who are found to be in possession of even a small amount of illegal drugs could face imprisonment for four years or more.
However, whilst the UAE and Dubai are keen to avoid drugs getting into the wrong hands, allowances are made for those who need to take medication for health reasons. Travellers to Dubai only need to adhere to the rules and processes to be able to take their medication. Our guide explains all, including which medications you can take into Dubai and how much medication you can bring with you.
What medications can I take to Dubai?
You are free to bring any non-prescription, non-controlled medication into Dubai. This includes medicines such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Immodium, travel sickness medication, and Calpol.
You can also take prescription medication into Dubai, as long as you obtain a permit from the UAE Ministry of Health and also carry your prescription with you along with the medication. Your prescription must correspond to the amount of medication you are bringing with you.
While there are many medications you can bring into Dubai without needing a permit, you should only ever travel with as much as you need for your trip. If you’re seen to bring in an excessive amount, you could face arrest.
Any medication you take into Dubai should be kept in its original packaging, so it can be checked properly.
What medication is on the controlled list to take to Dubai?
There are a number of branded medications that are on the controlled list in Dubai. It includes Diazepam, and Xanax, Valium, which are commonly used for anxiety. It also includes Cocodamol, Paracodol and other medicines that contain codeine. The controlled list includes some medication that you might not even think to check, such as Niquitin Mint Lozenges and Otrivin Nasal Spray, as they contain ingredients that the UAE class as controlled substances.
The full list can be viewed here.
You can check with your doctor what medicines are controlled in Dubai. They’ll also be able to get you the necessary paperwork so you can pass through customs with your required medication.
How can I take my prescription medication into Dubai?
If you need to take prescription medication into Dubai that is classed as a controlled, semi-controlled, or narcotic substance, you will need to get approval to do so. You can do this by filling out a form to Issue a Permit to Import Medicine for Personal Use on the UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention website. A permit is only required for narcotic, controlled and semi-controlled drugs.
The form will request details such as your passport number, your prescription from your doctor for the medicine, as well as information about your trip. You can complete the form online or via the app.
It usually takes around three working days for the form to be processed and a decision made. It is free to apply for this permit and it will be valid for two months but can only be used for one trip. You will need to ensure you fill out the form and receive your decision before you travel.
Once you’ve been approved, you’ll be able to travel with your prescription medication. You should only take as much as you will need for the trip, and you should keep it in its original packaging. You should travel with a copy of your permit, as well as the prescription from your doctor.
How much medication can I take to Dubai?
If you are taking medication to Dubai which is on the controlled list, you can take a maximum of 30 days’ worth. If your prescription medication isn’t on the controlled list, you can take a maximum of three months’ worth. In either case, you will need to ensure you have your prescription from the doctor with you. A resident of Dubai can take up to 12 months’ worth of medication in with them.
Bringing too much medication to Dubai, even if it is not on the controlled list, could result in it being taken by the authorities and even prosecution. It’s advised to only take the medication that is absolutely necessary for the duration of your trip.
Can I buy medicine in Dubai?
There are many pharmacies and supermarkets across Dubai that sell non-prescription medication. There are also medicines available to buy over the counter in Dubai that would sometimes require a prescription elsewhere.
If you need to buy prescription medication in Dubai, you will need to get a prescription from a local doctor. Pharmacies in Dubai are not able to accept foreign prescriptions.
If you’re travelling to Dubai, make sure you’re covered with the best expat medical insurance or travel insurance. As experts in international healthcare, Expatriate Group will ensure you’re protected with 24-hour support and instant healthcare cover for expats and emergency medical treatment for travellers.