We live in an increasingly global world and with that comes lots of travel, new experiences and health questions for those living with HIV and/or other chronic health conditions. We, here at the agency, have received many questions about how to get HIV medications imported to Canada for foreign nationals who are visiting and/or working in Canada for longer than 90 days and do not have access to local medications. Upon looking into this, we realized that many people do not know the rules regarding shipping medications. Even the most commonly used shippers are not all on the same page when it comes to information. If they don’t know what they can ship and how to ship it, how could we? Here are some tips to make the process go smoothly so you can enjoy your trip without the worry about whether you can access the medications you need.
First off, you CAN import medications internationally as long as you follow the very specific Health Canada rules below. They include:
- Photocopy of individual’s passport
- Photocopy of Canadian visa
- Photocopy of original prescription
- No more than 90 day supply
- In original containers/bottles that clearly state the contents
- Must be a medication available in Canada (Truvada, Intelence, etc.)
- A detailed list can be found here http://www.catie.ca/en/practical-guides/hiv-drug-treatment/appendices/b
When contacting shipping companies in a foreign company to ship to Canada (FedEx, UPS etc.), if they tell you that medications cannot be shipped please refer them to the following website that details the Canadian regulations (Section 6.0, Figure 2. Personal Use Importation Requirements for Human Drugs).
These rules apply specifically to importing medications to Canada but upon looking at the rules for multiple other countries, they mostly appear to be the same or similar. So if you are a Canadian living with HIV and travelling abroad, take note of the above and plan accordingly if you need to have medications shipped to you!
Happy travels everyone!!