Wednesday 17 August 2022 (update to statement 3 August 2022)
Media reports that some airlines are requesting documentation confirming not just what medication people take, but why, have generated understandable concern amongst people living HIV. The following is an update to the statement of 3 August following a response to BHIVA and NAT from the UK government to clarify regulatory requirements.
There are no restrictions from the UK government on solid medications that can be carried in hand luggage, whether prescription or purchased online/over the counter1. Keeping medication in its original packaging however, as advised by the NHS, is recommended. There is no requirement to identify the condition for which the medication is prescribed.
Rules are stricter for controlled drugs (drugs covered by ‘misuse of drugs’ legislation2 such as benzodiazepines and tramadol). Proof that medication is prescribed would be:
1. a copy of a prescription or
2. a letter from a doctor listing what medication(s) the person is on.
However, proof of prescription for any liquid medications over 100ml is essential. Because of security concerns any liquids over 100ml can only be carried in hand luggage in limited circumstances. These could include when the liquid is a medication is to be used during a trip. Documentation from a medical professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, confirming the need for the medication while travelling is then required.
Airports and airlines
While all UK airports are provided with guidance on regulations from UK government as described above it is ultimately at the discretion of each airport as to what they allow through security, and similarly up to each airline as to what they allow in hand luggage. We would therefore advise checking in advance with both airport and airline. BHIVA and NAT will be seeking to challenge any issues where they arise (see airline policies listed below).
Note: Regulations may differ in other countries and people are advised to check with the embassy of the country they are visiting3. Some countries have limits on the number and duration of medications that you are allowed to bring in. Some countries may ask for additional detail on conditions treated.
The NHS website provides helpful information about travelling with medication, including keeping medication in its original packaging4.
Currently the website does recommend including the condition treated in supporting documentation. As outlined above, this is not a national requirement, and BHIVA has challenged this advice with the NHS. A response is awaited.
In order to avoid any problems when travelling for people living with HIV, the advice is:
1. We recommend clinics provide a medication letter for travel (appendix 1).
2. Signpost the GOV.UK and NHS websites for general advice.
3. Ensure people with HIV are aware that their medication may not appear on the NHS app.
Name, date of birth, address
List of medications (brand, components, dose, frequency)
Content: “the above-named is prescribed these medications. It is essential that these are not interrupted for any reason”
For controlled drugs additional detail is required (countries of travel and dates as well as total amount of drug/signature of prescriber - Check https://www.gov.uk/travelling-controlled-drugs)
If you need to take medication, including liquids or syringes, pack it in your hand baggage (if possible, in original packaging). To avoid delays at security, take a prescription/supporting letter from your doctor that confirms it’s prescribed to you.
To bring medicine on board, you must provide a doctor’s certificate confirming the type of medication and what it is used for.
All essential medication you need for the duration of your journey should be carried in your hand luggage. Essential liquid medication in quantities over 100ml must be certified as authentic by a doctor's letter and must be presented in their original containers.
No specific advice; medical equipment requires a letter.
You can take medication onboard. You'll need a doctor's letter or repeat prescription, too - especially if your medication is a liquid, as you'll need this at security.
Make sure you have a letter from your medical practitioner confirming the type of medication (including the generic drug name), with prescribed doses, what the medication is for and any other medical items required, such as syringes or EpiPens.
In cases where you need to carry essential medications, such as insulin, you will need to have a medical certificate with you confirming that you need the medication and present this document at the airport security if required.
1 https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/essential-medicines-and-medical-equipment accessed 14 July 2022
2 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/controlled-drugs-list--2 accessed 14 July 2022
4 https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/medicines/can-i-take-my-medicine-abroad/ accessed 14 July 2022