Some Basic Recommendations Regarding the Planning of Travels
İRalf Gerlach, The Drug Policy
Foundation, Beth Israel Medical Center
a) Early contacts
We should like to point out once again that the information contained in this guide is only to be regarded as a guideline. Authoritative statements on current legal provisions can only be issued by the embassies and government agencies of the countries of destination.
We therefore urgently advise early arrangements with the home prescribers and early contact with foreign methadone suppliers and/or government agencies, so that any arrangements required to enable treatment to be maintained or to obtain a permit for the importation of methadone can be clarified and introduced in good time before the journey commences. Inquire about the costs of treatment, medicine and possible lab tests of urine samples! If it is planned to take away methadone, check if the drug can be exported from your home country. Very often it is not possible to refer patients at short notice to doctors or hospitals/clinics for treatment (e.g. because of long waiting lists).
The granting of import and export licences
often involves a great deal of bureaucratic red tape and long
processing times. Important: Have all arrangements (dates,
modalities of treatment etc.) confirmed in writing (e.g. by fax)!
Not all countries that prohibit methadone treatment and/or the
importation of methadone are wholly unacceptable as countries of
destination. It is worth while finding out whether doctors there
are allowed to prescribe codeine or dihydrocodeine (or other
suitable substances), or whether these can be freely bought in
pharmacies or whether their importation for personal use is
b) Time zones:
When trying to contact people abroad
(officials, clinics, doctors) remember that the world is divided
into time zones - there may be time differences of up to
plus/minus 13 hours. These time zones should also be observed in
the case of fax transmission, especially if deadlines have to be
kept for applications.
c) Medical certificates
For travels to some countries (e.g. Armenia) we
urgently recommend having the certificate translated into the
language of the country of destination and having it attested and
stamped by the embassy/consulate. Official stamps by government
agencies are always helpful and sometimes essential/ Medical
attestations should always contain exact details on daily doses
and/or import quantities for methadone, and always in milligrams.
It might even be helpful to use the chemical generic name for
"methadone" in a certificate...
d) Travel cancellation insurance and health insurance for travel abroad
As approval procedures for the maintenance of
methadone treatment or for the importation of methadone can be a
time-consuming business in many countries, it is often necessary
to book a flight/holiday before the written approval for the
treatment or the import licence for methadone has been obtained.
It is also possible that an undertaking to afford treatment is
later withdrawn. We therefore recommend taking out a travel
cancellation insurance whenever you book a journey. We also
urgently recommend taking out a health insurance for travel
abroad, especially, if there is no social security agreement with
the country of destination. Without such private insurance cover
the traveller would have to bear the complete cost
himself/herself if he/she falls ill. One should keep in mind that
in many countries basic medical care cannot be ensured for the
local population. Anyone who plans to travel to these countries
should consider whether it is worth while taking the risk of poor
medical care under sometimes disastrous (hygienic) conditions.
This aspect should always be included in any travel preparations.
European nationals should always ask their health insurance
whether an E111 form is accepted in the country of destination.
e) Prophylactic immunisation
Protective or prophylactic immunisation is to
be recommended and sometimes even compulsory for travellers in
certain countries. Information can be obtained from family
doctors, health insurance companies, public health centres or
f) Entry permits
For some countries visitors require entry visa,
which must be applied for in good time before the start of the
journey. The embassies and consulates of the countries of
destinations as well as travel agencies will supply information
on visa applications, time limits and costs. Crisis areas should
be avoided as a matter of principle.
g) Special provisions
In some countries special permits can be
granted for the importation of methadone in the case of groups
travelling accompanied by doctors or drug workers. In some
countries special provisions can be agreed for individuals (e. g.
in the case of business trips). This should be clarified on a
case to case basis with the foreign authorities responsible. In
individual cases it might be possible to maintain the methadone
treatment by a doctor of the embassy's choice.
h) Use-by date
If methadone is carried in liquid form, the use-by date should be checked and durability should be safeguarded, especially in the case of travels to hot climates. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Bremer Platz 18-20
Phone: +49 251- 60123 or - 234577
Fax: +49 251- 2807687 or - 666580
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(This page last revised May 4, 1998)