Medicinal products and narcotics
To protect the public from health risks and to combat illegal drug trafficking, in Germany the trade in medicinal products and narcotics is strictly regulated.
Here you can find out what to bear in mind if you are in the possession of medicines when travelling.
Medicinal products as travel necessities
The provisions governing the movement of medicinal products can be found in the German Medicinal Products Act (Arzneimittelgesetz – AMG).
What are medicinal products?
Medicinal products are substances or preparations of substances which
- are intended use in or on the bodies of humans or animals, and which are intended to be agents that heal or palliate or prevent human or animal diseases or pathological complaints (these are known as medicinal products by presentation, because they are seen as such by the consumer solely by reason of their presentation, for example, by their packaging or packaging leaflet), or
- can be used in or on the bodies of humans or animals, or can be administered to humans or animals, in order to either
- restore, correct, or influence physiological functions through a pharmacological, an immunological, or a metabolic effect, or
- to make a medical diagnosis
(known as medicinal products by function, which are medicines solely on the basis of their objective character, independently of their presentation).
When entering Germany travellers may bring with them medicinal products in quantities that meet usual personal needs. In such cases the usual personal need of a traveller is seen as being equivalent to a maximum of three months’ supply of the recommended dose of each medicinal product, irrespective of whether the medicinal products were already taken out of Germany and are now being brought back, or whether the products have been purchased abroad. Neither is the authorisation or registration of the medicinal products in Germany of any relevance.
In this connection you should be aware that products that are freely traded in your own country such as food supplements, vitamin preparations, or purely vegetable natural medicines, may be treated as medicinal products in Germany, and therefore fall within the scope of the Medicinal Products Act, particularly where they are presented as agents for the treatment of illnesses. The provisions of the medicinal products legislation of the country in which such preparation is being offered or sold are not of relevance here.
Medicinal products that are prohibited to travellers
There are medicinal products, though, that may not be imported into Germany even though they are for a traveller’s personal needs.
- counterfeit medications, for example, an imitation of a medicinal product that has already been authorised but that does not originate from the genuine manufacturer, or
- substances that are particularly harmful and frequently used for doping and are listed in the Annex to Section 6a of the Medicinal Products Act (for example: testosteron, nandrolon, clenbuterol), of which the possession for the purpose of doping in sports in “not small quantities” is already prohibited. What quantity of these substances shall be seen as “not small” follows from the Doping Substances (Quantities) Regulation (Dopingmittel-Mengen-Verordnung).
Other regulations that must be observed
In addition, preparations containing certain vegetable or animal substances may also be subject to the provisions on the protection of species.
Medicinal products that fall under the Narcotic Drugs Act
The regulations governing the transport of narcotics can be found in the Narcotic Drugs Act (Betäubungsmittelgesetz – BtMG) and in the Ordinance concerning the Foreign Trade in Narcotics (Betäubungsmittel-Außenhandelsverordnung – BtMAHV).
What are narcotics?
Narcotics are the substances and preparations listed in Annexes I to III of the Narcotic Drugs Act.
Medicines containing narcotics carried as travel necessities
Special provisions that apply to medicinal products such as morphine that fall under the Narcotic Drugs Act must be observed; they must therefore be specifically prescribed by the attending doctor.
Travellers may take with them appropriate quantities of narcotics that have been prescribed in this way by their doctors for their own use during the period of their travel to Germany. However, depending on their destination, travellers must comply with a number of conditions described below.
Travelling within the Schengen area
Travellers may carry narcotics that have been prescribed by a doctor, while travelling for a period of up to 30 days within the states of the Schengen area, if they are in possession of a certificate pursuant to Article 75 of the Schengen Agreement, that has been completed by the attending doctor and that has been certified prior to the journey by the highest regional health authority or by a competent body acting on behalf of that health authority. You can find additional relevant information and the form mentioned (downloadable PDF file) on the website of the Federal Institute of Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte – BfArM ).
The provision on carrying narcotics within the states of the Schengen area also applies to travellers from the states of the Schengen area entering Germany, even if the narcotics that are being carried are prescribable narcotic drugs in the country of origin, but not in Germany.
Entry from countries outside the Schengen area
Before entering Germany from a country that is not a member of the Schengen Agreement, patients shall have their prescribing physician issue, and carry on their journey, a multilingual certificate specifying the individual and daily doses, the name of the active ingredient and the duration of the journey. There is no form requirement for such certification; it must, however, be authenticated by the competent health authority of the country of provenance.
Due to the lack of uniform provisions concerning the carriage of narcotics outside the Schengen area, travellers need to make sure that they comply with the specific rules of any country of transit, which should be inquired from the diplomatic mission of each country concerned.