New Rules Concerning Traveling with Medication – An Update

As always in the UAE, changes are made quickly, as is the case with the carrying of drugs for tourists and expats. As reported earlier this month, all tourists and expatriates entering the UAE should now have permission to carry prescription drugs such as psychotropic drugs – antidepressants or neuroleptics.

We have summarized the most important information for you here as an update!
After several inquiries to the Ministry of Health and Prevention regarding the statement of a ministry employee regarding the obligation to obtain a license for drugs and the associated uncertainty, the ministry has now clarified that this obligation to obtain a license only applies to narcotics, psychotropic and controlled drugs and is not mandatory for regular drugs. A detailed list of psychotropic and controlled drugs can be found in Annex IV of UAE Anaesthesia Act 14 of 1995.

This list of prohibited drugs also includes medicinal products,

  • that are not registered in the UAE,
  • herbal medicinal products which may contain prohibited substances,
  • medical devices which may contain prohibited medicinal products, or
  • drugs that were discontinued in the UAE.

Medicinal products and chemical compounds that are not on the list are considered “regular” or “prescription-only medication”. The Ministry states on its website that “‘prescription-only medicines’ are medicines which are not listed in Annex IV of UAE Anaesthesia Act 14 of 1995, even if their use is authorized in the country of origin”. Furthermore, these medicinal products may not contain substances that are included in the International Control Drugs Conventions or in the list of controlled registered medicinal products of the Ministry of Controlled Medicinal Products.


This means that all tourists and expats who currently carry prescription drugs do not have to register them for the time being or have to obtain formal approval from the ministry. This is in contrast to what the directives say, according to which all medicines must be registered.

Tourists and expats in the UAE can take their prescription medicines with them under the following conditions (without prior authorization):

  • presence of a doctor’s prescription,
  • a medical report explaining why the person needs the medication; and
  • the quantity of medicinal products is limited to a maximum of three months.

On the website of the Ministry, tourists and expats can register for further information under the section “individual services” and also find the complete guideline for granting permission to import personal medicine for travelers.

If you have any questions on these issues or need help with other legal issues, please contact the STROHAL LEGAL GROUP team – Tel: +971 7 236 4530 or

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