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Travelling with medication: statement from British HIV Association (BHIVA) and National AIDS Trust (NAT)

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  • Travelling with medication: statement from British HIV Association (BHIVA) and National AIDS Trust (NAT)

    Wednesday 3 August 2022


    Media reports that some airlines are requesting documentation confirming not just what medication people take, but why, have generated understandable concern. This statement summarises UK recommendations and advice for people living with HIV.

    BHIVA and NAT have raised issues of clarity and inconsistency in guidance with the NHS and UK Government. This statement will be updated when we receive replies.

    UK regulations

    There are no restrictions in UK airports on medications that can be carried in hand luggage; this includes liquids of more than 100 mL if there is evidence that the medication is essential1. Rules are stricter for controlled drugs (drugs covered by ‘misuse of drugs’ legislation2 such as benzodiazepines and tramadol).

    UK Government guidance advises people to carry proof of prescription for medications in hand luggage. It is unclear if this is only for liquids over 100mL. While we seek clarity it may be better to presume this is for all prescribed medications.

    Proof that the medication is prescribed:

    1. a copy of a prescription or

    2. a letter from a doctor listing what medication(s) the person is on.

    Note: Regulations may also 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.

    NHS advice

    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.

    BHIVA advice

    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.

    Appendix 1: suggested content for supporting letters
    • Clinic header
    • 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
    Appendix 2: current advice from selected major airlines (collated 14 July 2022 - some requirements exceed current government guidance)
    Airline Advice
    British Airways 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.
    Easyjet To bring medicine on board, you must provide a doctor’s certificate confirming the type of medication and what it is used for.
    Jet2 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.
    Ryanair No specific advice; medical equipment requires a letter.
    Tui 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.
    Virgin 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.
    Wizz Air 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.