Lately, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about bringing prescription medication into the Philippines while on vacation. I’ve done some research to find out what the do’s and dont’s are to alleviate some of those questions.
I have to start this article with this disclaimer: Every country has their own rules/laws about what is and is not acceptable medications to bring with you. If you have any doubts or questions, please contact the embassy of the country that you are traveling to before leaving home.
With that being said, lets dig into some of the particulars about bringing prescription medication with you to the Philippines and what to do if you need a refile while you are there.
First. Always keep your medication in it’s original packaging that was given to you by your pharmacist. Ensure that the labeling on the box or bottle are clear and easy to read by customs or police if you have to have your medication with you while you are sight seeing. If need be, put clean tape over the label to keep it clear and in good condition. This is especially true for the Philippines as it does get very humid there during certain times of the year.
Second. If your medication requires you to carry syringes, it is going to be very important that you get a signed letter from your doctor that describes your medical condition, prescribed medication and dosage to bring with you for customs. While you might not have any issues going through customs on entry, on exit, you will get checked and questioned.
In general, it really is a good idea to get a letter from your doctor no matter how benign the medication is that you are bringing.
What to do if you run out of your medication while in the Philippines and need to get a refill? This is another reason to get a signed/dated letter from your doctor. There are plenty of places to get your prescription refilled but I would recommend only going to Watsons or Mercury drug stores. They are well established and have been in business a long time with a good reputation. They are also used to working with foreigners making the prescription refill a lot easier.
If you think that you might need to get a refill while there, I would recommend sending an email to either Watsons and/or Mercury to find out if they stock the medication that you need before leaving for your trip. Both of them have contact forms on their web sites to ask questions.
Last, but not least. If you need to bring pain medication with you, you will need to clear this with the embassy in the Philippines before arriving. While the customs officers at the airport and pretty relaxed in general, if the police happen to see you taking some pills while you are out sight seeing and that they think may be of dangerous content, they will question you. Make sure you have all of your documentation in order. The last thing you want to do is ruin your vacation by sitting in a police station for several hours while they attempt to verify the legitimacy of your documents.