Drugs and Travel: Do’s and Don’ts

Other format

Medications readily available in Canada may be prohibited in other countries.  And while illegal drugs are commonly used in some parts of the world, their purchase, consumption, import and export are banned almost everywhere. To help minimize problems and make the most of your international travels, keep the following advice in mind:

Drugs and Travel: Do's and Don'ts


  • Check if your prescription medications are legal in the country you plan to visit. Some over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and herbal and homeopathic products legally available in Canada may be illegal in other countries or require prior approval from local authorities. Find out by consulting our Country travel advice and advisories and contacting the embassy or consulate of your destination country before leaving Canada.
Did you know…?

Medications containing codeine are not allowed into the United Arab Emirates without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health.

  • Keep all medications in their original, labelled containers and carry a note from your doctor explaining their medical use.
  • Carry a doctor’s certificate explaining the medical purpose of injection supplies that you require. Check with your airline before departure, as needles and syringes may be prohibited in carry-on luggage for security reasons.
  • Understand that you’re subject to the judicial system of any country you’re visiting. It’s your responsibility to know and abide by local laws. Your Canadian citizenship offers no immunity, and consular officials can’t get you out of jail.
Did you know…?

More than one third of Canadians imprisoned abroad each year are charged with drug-related offences.

  • Realize that your travel health insurance probably won’t cover you if something goes wrong while you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Pack your luggage yourself and never leave it unattended.
  • Keep an eye on your children’s backpacks, toys and stuffed animals. Someone could slip drugs inside without your knowledge.
  • Choose your travel companions wisely. Never cross a border with a hitchhiker or as a hitchhiker. If your fellow travellers happen to be carrying, using or selling illegal drugs, you could be found guilty by association.


  • Be fooled into smuggling drugs in exchange for money or a free vacation. Drug convictions can carry severe penalties abroad, including the death sentence or life imprisonment.
  • Carry parcels, gifts or luggage for other people across a border or through customs under any circumstances.
  • Give in to the temptation to use recreational drugs. Involvement with narcotics could put your health at risk and jeopardize your future.
Did you know…?

Medicines sold over the counter in Canada are illegal in Japan if they contain stimulants.

  • Assume that a criminal record for drug-related offences abroad won’t follow you back to Canada.
  • Leave food or drinks unattended in nightclubs or accept snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from strangers. Drugs may be present that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
  • Attempt to carry “medical marijuana” when entering or leaving Canada, even if you’re authorized to possess or produce marijuana for medical purposes at home. The Government of Canada cannot authorize you to import or export marijuana or use it for medical purposes abroad.
Did you know…?

A drug conviction in Singapore could lead to the death sentence.

For further facts about drugs and travel, visit our Alcohol, drugs and travel page or contact Consular Services by telephone (1-800-267-6788 or 613-944-6788), TTY (1-800-394-3472 or 613-944-1310) or email (travel@international.gc.ca).

Consular services

Consular services website

Tel.: 1-800-267-6788 (in Canada and the U.S.) or 613-944-6788
TTY: 1-800-394-3472 (in Canada and the U.S.) or 613-944-1310
E-mail: travel@international.gc.ca 

Tel.: 613-996-8885 (call collect from abroad where available)
E-mail: sos@international.gc.ca 

Alcohol, Drugs and Travel 
Visit our page on Alcohol, drugs and travel.

Publications (free)
Access our smart-travel publications or order them by calling 1-800-267-8376 (in Canada) or 613-944-4000.

Country Travel Advice and Advisories 
Our Country travel advice and advisories provide vital information on safety and security, local laws and  customs, health conditions, and entry requirements for approximately 200 travel destinations. This information is also available by phone: 1-800-267-6788 (in Canada and the U.S.) or 613-944-6788.

Diplomatic Offices
Canadian government offices abroad.

Publication information

Published by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada 

Information in this publication is readily available for personal and public non-commercial use and may be reproduced, in part or in whole and by any means, without charge or further permission from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. We ask only that:

  • Users exercise due diligence in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced;
  • Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada be identified as the source department; and
  • the reproduction not be represented as an official version of the materials reproduced, nor as having been made in affiliation with or with the endorsement of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

All information in this publication is provided on an “as is” basis without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada makes all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information contained in this publication is accurate. The reader is also encouraged to supplement this information with independent research and professional advice.

This publication is available in alternative formats upon request.

To obtain more information or free copies of this publication, write to:

Enquiries Service
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: 1-800-267-8376 (in Canada) or 613-944-4000
E-mail: enqserv@international.gc.ca

We would like to receive your comments on this publication. Write to us at the address above or e-mail us at travel@international.gc.ca.

Date modified: