Travellers' medicines

If you are wondering whether you can order medicines from abroad, remember this basic principle: order a legal preparation from a legal vendor for your own use. When you travel abroad, find out about any restrictions in the target country in advance.

When you travel abroad from Finland

Most countries impose restrictions on the import of medicines. The amount of medicines might be restricted and the import of some drugs might be entirely forbidden. The import of medicines might require a prescription or a medical certificate. Import restrictions might be in place in particular for medicines that affect the central nervous system (such as sleep medicines, tranquilisers and strong pain relievers). You should find out what kind of restrictions the target country has in place for importing medicines. To get information on the restrictions, contact for example the country's embassy.

When you return to Finland

When you return to Finland from abroad, remember that there are restrictions on the import of medicines and the quantity you can import. The restrictions depend on whether a medicine is classified as an over-the-counter medicine, a prescription medicine, a narcotic medicine or a veterinary medicine in Finland. You can check the classification in a pharmacy. The Finnish Medicines Authority Fimea can also give you advice by phone or by email.

The restrictions also depend on whether a medicine is imported from the European Economic Area (EEA) or outside of it.

Importing medicines from the European Economic Area

The maximum quantity of medicinal preparations (prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines) a private person can import from the European Economic Area (EEA) for personal use is equivalent to one year's consumption.

Import of veterinary medicines is allowed only for treating the diseases of pets. The maximum quantity of medicines intended for pets a person can import from the EEA is equivalent to one month's consumption. The medicines must be imported into the country simultaneously with the animal to be treated with them. The imported veterinary medicines may not contain narcotic substances. The import of vaccines and other immunological veterinary preparations is prohibited.

The EEA countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Importing medicines outside the European Economic Area

The maximum quantity of medicinal preparations a private person can import from a country outside the European Economic Area for personal use is equivalent to three months' worth of consumption. Unregistered homeopathic or anthroposophic preparations may not be imported from outside the European Economic Area. The import of veterinary medicines from outside the European Economic Area is also forbidden.

Import of medicinal preparations classified as narcotics

The maximum quantity of a medicinal preparation classified as a narcotic a private person can import from a Schengen country for personal use is equivalent to the consumption of 30 days. Furthermore, importing a medicinal preparation classified as a narcotic from a Schengen country requires that the importing person can present a Schengen certificate entitling the import of the medicine. The Schengen certificate and the prescription used to obtain the medicine must be issued in the main country of residence of the person importing the medicine.

In Finland, a Schengen certificate can be obtained from a pharmacy. You can also check at a pharmacy whether a medicinal preparation is classified as a narcotic drug. Fimea too will provide advice by phone and email.

The Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The maximum quantity of a medicinal preparation classified as a narcotic a private person can import from other countries for personal use is equivalent to the consumption of 14 days.

There are also the following detailed restrictions concerning the import of narcotic drugs:

  • There are separate restrictions on the maximum quantity of medicines containing buprenorphine and methadone (see the Government Decree )
  • If a private person repeatedly imports the same or an equivalent medicinal preparation classified as a narcotic, the time between the imports must be at least the time it takes to use the previously imported quantity of the preparation.
  • It is prohibited to simultaneously import medicinal preparations that contain narcotic drugs which, according to the package leaflet, would cause a clinically significant and dangerous interaction when used together.

Receiving medicines by mail

Private persons may receive medicinal preparations by mail sent from the EU to Finland, if the supplier is a legal one and the medicinal preparation is approved by the authorities of the country.

When ordering a prescription medicine, you must have a valid prescription. For example, it is illegal to purchase a medicine for erectile dysfunction or weight loss without a prescription. The recipient of the shipment is always responsible for meeting the requirements.

It is prohibited to procure and receive by mail from abroad any veterinary medicines or medicinal preparations that contain narcotic drugs.The maximum allowed quantity of medicines you can receive by mail from a country belonging to the European Economic Area is equivalent to the consumption of three months.

It is prohibited to procure and receive by mail medicinal preparations from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA). If a private person orders dietary/herbal supplements from abroad for his/her own consumption, he/she must verify in advance that the supplements do not contain any substances classified as medicines. If is particularly important to verify that any preparations ordered from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) only contain allowed substances or herbs.

The EEA countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Further information

Paaskoski Sami, Senior Pharmaceutical Inspector,
tel. +358 29 5223237

Pellas Kristiina, Senior Pharmaceutical Inspector, (borderline classification questions)
tel. +358 29 5223422

E-mail addresses follow the form firstname.lastname@fimea.fi