Resident Guide | Legal Issues

Guidelines to help travellers avoid bringing in banned medicines to UAE

  • By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 14:19 July 20, 2009

Guidelines to help travellers
  • Image Credit: Gulf News
  • Possession of certain prescribed medicines (especially those containing codeine), will land you in jail here.

Dubai: Each country has its own laws and regulations to protect citizens and visitors.

Rules and regulations differ from country to country and what is allowed in one country could be prohibited and even considered a crime in another country.

One rule that differs vastly from some other countries is the bringing of certain pharmaceuticals into the UAE.

Everyone, including visitors, are subject to the UAE's laws and regulations and tourists may find that they are different from the rules in their own country.

 As the UAE becomes one of the most popular tourist and transit destinations in the world here are some guidelines to help travellers avoid bringing in any banned medical substance or drugs.


 But there are certain medicinal drugs, even over-the-counter drugs, which although legal when taken under a doctor's supervision in one's home country, could land that person in jail in the UAE. Some over-the-counter drugs are considered controlled items in the UAE as they produce effects that contravene local laws.

The presence of these illegal drugs is detected by blood or urine tests, and even very small quantities of such medicines are subject to prosecution by the authorities.

Before coming here it is wise to be informed that possession of a number of pharmaceuticals could land you in trouble here.

If you are undergoing medical treatment in your country and you are travelling to the UAE, be sure to carry with you a doctor's prescription of the medication which you are bringing.

Possession of certain prescribed medicines (especially those containing codeine, a common ingredient for pain relief and cold and flu medication) will land you in jail here.

There are 365 such medicines listed on the UAE's health ministry's website.

Be aware also that there are no warnings posted at airports. Travel agencies may not inform you of such restrictions.