Shipping Medication? Here’s What You Need to Know

Shipping Medication

Almost everyone who’s ever headed out on holiday has probably forgotten to bring a few things. Arriving without a toothbrush, or perhaps your favourite pair of shoes, is mildly irritating but easily fixed with a visit to a nearby store. Accidentally leaving prescription medication at home, however, can make things a whole lot more complicated.

If you’re travelling for an extended period or left home without important prescription drugs, one solution you may have considered is using a courier service to send medication to your vacation address.

Whether it crosses the border with you or is shipped separately, prescription medication is subject to strict rules and regulations that travellers should be aware of before they pack their bags, or try to ship something they mistakenly left behind. If you’re thinking about shipping medication, here’s what you’ll need to be aware of.

Required documentation

Before shipping prescription medication abroad, you’ll need to provide the name and address of the manufacturer and a copy of your original prescription. You’ll also need to state the intended use of the medication, and explain that it is for personal use, not commercial. In addition, the Commercial Invoice that accompanies the shipment must contain a list of medical ingredients, and both the generic (or common) and scientific name of the medication.

If your shipment is going to the United States, you must complete Form 3299 – Declaration of Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles. You’ll need to supply a valid passport as part of the form.


 Packing or shipping all the prescription medication you need for an extended vacation can present problems: as a general rule, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency forbids people from bringing more than 90 days worth of medication into the country. The same applies to shipments, so make sure you’re aware of maximum allowable limits before you start stuffing boxes.

Keep it separate

 Don’t try to save space by mixing different prescription medications into a single container before crossing the border or shipping medicine abroad. Each individual medication should remain in its original container, and each container should be clearly marked with your name, your doctor’s name, dosage instructions, and any other relevant information.

Approved in Canada doesn’t mean approved everywhere

Not all prescription medications available to Canadian patients have been approved for use in other countries. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits people from bringing in most medications that aren’t already FDA-approved, including foreign, unapproved versions of FDA-worthy medications.

If there’s no FDA-approved version of a specific medication available, exceptions can be made. You will have to verify, in writing, that the medication in question is for personal use, provide a written note from your doctor explaining that the medication is a continuation of a treatment that began outside the United States, and the name and address of a licensed physician in the U.S. who will oversee your use of the medication.

Other resources

If you’re still not sure about the rules for any medication you want to take or ship south this winter, check the Government of Canada’s Travelling With Medication web page, or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 5 Tips for Traveling to the U.S. with Medications page.

Have questions or need help shipping your medication? Visit The UPS Store near you!



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