The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has always had extremely strict drug laws and maintains a zero tolerance policy for the sale and recreational use of drugs. Here's what you need to know about taking medication into the UAE:
In October 2018, the UAE government introduced additional requirements for people travelling to or via the nation with certain medications. A new online system has been rolled out for travellers carrying medication into the UAE. Now anyone bringing prescribed drugs into the country - whether for use during a holiday or business stay, or on their return to the country from overseas trips - now must complete an online registration to get the all-clear. Here is some advice to help you understand what is and isn't allowed.
1. I am travelling to or via the UAE and am on medication, what do I need to do?
The UAE has a list of 71 drugs that are currently unauthorised. You can see the list here.
If the medicine is not on list, check to see if the medication you are on is defined as Narcotic, Controlled, Semi-Controlled, Psychotropic or Prohibited by the UAE government. Check the status of your medication here. Please note that medication can have different names in different countries, so you are advised to share this list with your doctor to confirm if any of your medication is listed.
If your prescribed medication is on the list above, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t take it into the UAE. You will need to create an account with the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and complete an online request to bring the medication into the United Arab Emirates. In most cases the permitted drug amount will be limited to 30 days treatment.
Please note that Codeine (over a 30mg dose) and Pseudoephedrine are on this list.
The main information page is here. Click on the link to ‘Go to the e-service’
Once you have been approved online, print off the approval documentation and also ensure that you carry your valid prescription (in Arabic or English only) with your medication and passport when you travel. You will also be required to carry an authenticated certificate and/or permit from the health authority of your country of departure (origin), confirming your legal authority to possess the drugs for personal use. Ask your doctor for assistance with this.
This applies if you are transiting or stopping in the UAE.
2. What if my medication is not on the Narcotic, Controlled, Semi-Controlled, Psychotropic or Prohibited list?
If you are on prescription medication that is not on the list, then you can bring it to the UAE with your valid prescription (in Arabic or English only). These medications are usually limited to a three-month supply only.
Note, if you have an over-the-counter medication that does not require a prescription in your own country, it may still require one or even be prohibited in the UAE. Check your medication against the list (above) and if it is not prohibited, it would be wise to ask your doctor for a prescription to take with you.
3. What if I want to bring in herbal medicine or something like paracetamol?
Some herbal medicines will be permitted, along with paracetamol.
Please also note that these may also be available over-the-counter in the UAE. For more information, refer again to the guide here.