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  #1  
Old 7 Aug 2012
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Taking prescription and over the counter medication into Mexico and Central America

Hi,

My husband and I (both UK citizens) are traveling with both prescription and over the counter medicines. We have a letter from our UK doctor that explains which of the prescription items belong to whom and that the sterile needles, syringes and catheters we are carrying are to only for use by a doctor. (We expect later in our trip to be in more remote areas).

a) The letters are in English - do we need to get them translated? If yes, is this possible while on the road (e.g via email) as we are currently in the US (Moab, Utah) on route to Mexico. Also would it have to be done by a recognised organisation?

b) Is it likely that we will have any problem taking in the needle kits etc. One packet is an unopened kit, the other is part of a first aid kit and so the kit has been opened but the needle packaging is in intact.

c) How do we find out exactly what medications are NOT allowed and what are allowed?

Any tips or personal experiences of fellow travellers would be much appreciated too.

Many thanks.
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  #2  
Old 7 Aug 2012
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I can only share my personal experience since I don't actually know what the law says.

When I travelled to Mexico and all the Central American Countries I was never searched anywhere and no one ever asked about medications. I carried 4 different medications with me without any problems, but no syringes.

Since you're in the southern USA right now you can get your letter translated and notarized before crossing the border. That area has a very large hispanic population and finding a Spanish translator should be fairly easy.


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  #3  
Old 7 Aug 2012
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You should be fine.

They can get twitchy about controlled drugs such as morphine or pethidine but event that is OK as long as drugs are labelled with your name and you have a doctor's letter and you don't have industrial quantities.

Worth getting the letter translated; should be no shortage of Spanish speakers in the US who can do that for you.
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  #4  
Old 8 Aug 2012
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The syringes and such should pose no problem here in Mexico. In fact, most authorities are much more compassionate towards people with long term or chronic illnesses than in many other 1st world countries. Generally, a lot of antibiotics are now sold by prescription only here in Mexico. What that means is that you pay an extra $30 pesos for the doctor's prescription who is associated with the pharmacy. Most large phramacies have a cut rate script writer on hand or nearby. If your meds are restricted narcotic based, you could get a copy of your doctor's prescription translated and then have it certified by a Mex consulate if you are really worried. The apostilization of the document allows it to be accepted in Mexico. Generally, if you have pills in bottles with tags and stickers on them and your condition relates to your age etc... you should have no problem in Mexico. You might find the translation and apostilization procedure to be much more trouble and hassle than it is worth. By the way, did you need it for the USA?
If you didn't, you likely won't ever be questioned here.
I highly doubt any cop or soldier would ever knowingly take away the medication or medical supplies of a foreign tourist. I've been here a very long time and have never heard of a case of that happening. Garry Dymond has been here a long time too, maybe he will give his opinion.
Believe it or not, the cops and soldiers that are checking you often have a lot more common sense than in other places. They will likely be more curious about your bike and your trip than your meds.
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  #5  
Old 13 Aug 2012
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Take lots with you of you plan on staying for a extended period,you will not well maybe not we couldn't find a outlet to get our prescriptions refilled.we even checked into getting them shipped from home but we were told from several other world travelers they were unable to get them through customs.We are from Canada so it might happen different for you,what you seem to think you cannot get others find ways.
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  #6  
Old 14 Aug 2012
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I agree with Mike Mike. I would check online to see what is available here. A gogle search for farmacias similares will show what you can buy here. If you are bringing it in I don't think it will be a problem . I lived in Brazil for 4 years and took over a years supply of herart medicine there from Mexico. Nobody asked about it.
I don't think syringes will be a problem as all chemist shops sell them here, so in the worst case scenario of having them confiscated you can buy them at the local chemists. It may be the same with the drugs. If you PM with the names of the meds I will see what you can get here and that way you won't worry so much about them.
Changing the subject if you want to come to Mex City send me a PM and we can set it up.
Garry
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  #7  
Old 23 Aug 2012
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Thanks everyone for your replies. We have a letter from our doctor for everything but the malaria tablets (doxy) as we bought these at a travel clinic in the UK where we got our vaccinations. Our names are on the boxes though. Do you think this will be a problem??
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  #8  
Old 23 Aug 2012
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Nobody will care about your antibiotics. No one will care about your doctor's letter either. The exceptions: narcotics (opiates or opioids) or stimulants like amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine.
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  #9  
Old 24 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow66 View Post
Thanks everyone for your replies. We have a letter from our doctor for everything but the malaria tablets (doxy) as we bought these at a travel clinic in the UK where we got our vaccinations. Our names are on the boxes though. Do you think this will be a problem??
Did they prescribe you the anti-malarial for Mexico?
Interesting, because not one ADV rider coming through here has been taking anti-malarials. Those can have some interesting side effects.
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  #10  
Old 25 Aug 2012
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MikeMike:
Did they prescribe you the anti-malarial for Mexico?
Interesting, because not one ADV rider coming through here has been taking anti-malarials. Those can have some interesting side effects.

Yes they did. We went to a Masta travel clinic in the UK. Also the MASTA website actually allows you to put together an itinerary of the countries you are visiting and then it tells you what vaccinations you need for what country and what other diseases etc you might contract.

It even shows you a map for the countries you require malaria tablets for and the levels of risk in the areas/states in that country.

In Mexico it is mostly low risk except the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas where the risk is high.

MASTA Travel Health | For All Your Vaccination Advice - The itinerary is completely free to do online.
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  #11  
Old 25 Aug 2012
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Originally Posted by Docsherlock View Post
You should be fine.

They can get twitchy about controlled drugs such as morphine or pethidine but event that is OK as long as drugs are labelled with your name and you have a doctor's letter and you don't have industrial quantities.

Worth getting the letter translated; should be no shortage of Spanish speakers in the US who can do that for you.

Just contacted a translation service who offered to translate 2 doctor's letters for $150. There can only be 100 words in total. Sadly had to decline the quote.
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  #12  
Old 25 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow66 View Post
....Masta travel clinic....MASTA website....MASTA Travel Health | ....
I had a quick look. You're taking advice from a profit-making enterprise which doesn't appear to put your best interests in front of its own. What's more, they don't even appear to offer much value for whatever you paid them: bragging about having 51 clinics with a total of 65 staff doesn't bode well.

Take that for what it's worth. I'd suggest relying on WHO and CDC websites instead. You'll see some differences.

As far as getting a translation, just find a solid college-level Spanish student and offer them $25 or $30. If you don't know any, call the nearest university and ask them. Again, you don't really need any of this stuff unless you're carrying opiates or other such...in which case your translated letter might save you once or twice, but in the end you're going to pay in time and trouble.

I carry opioid pain meds in addition to a variety of antispasmotics, antiparasitics, antibiotics, and random other crap, all jumbled together in mis-labeled containers along with a bunch of needles and syringes. No one has ever hassled me about any of this stuff in over a hundred countries...except once entering the Gambia, where the guy was clearly angling for a bribe, but had no staying power and gave up pretty quickly. My advice, for whatever it's worth to you, is to quit fussing and hit the road.

Unless, of course, you're carrying cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine, in which case you're on your own.

Mark
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  #13  
Old 25 Aug 2012
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Malaria is not a major problem in Oaxaca or Chiapas.
Perhaps if you are sleeping in the jungle, or spending time on a construction project in a remote area, you might think about taking anti-malarial, but prescribing an anti-malarial for those zones is ridiculous, again, unless you are in an at risk type of work.
I know people that live and work in both those states and in remote and more "primitive" conditions and none of them see any risk of malaria, however dengue fever is a major concern.
The doctor letter translations would likely have to be apostilized by an Mexican embassy or consulate to have any official federal worthiness in Mexico. That means the document is acceptable for use throughout Mexico.
I think you are only asking for problems if you were to present one of those documents.
Save the anti-malarial for where you might really need it.
Of all the countries you'll be traveling in, Mexico will likely be the easiest of all.
Again, dengue fever is much more problematic here (I have one friend and one relative suffering from the classic and the hemmorageic versions of Dengue, respectively), than malaria is. Avoid heavy mosquito areas at dawn and dusk or cover up and use repellent.
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  #14  
Old 25 Aug 2012
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Since you´re still in the U.S., here´s what I´d do (been there, done that, got the letter). Get myself a Spanish translator, i.e. talk to someone of Hispanic origin who is reasonably trustworthy and fluent in Spanish and English, have him draw up a translation of the English language doctor´s letter on a napkin and buy him or her a for the effort.

Then I´d proceed to the next Kinko´s, make a color copy of the letter from the doctor. Then I´d type up an "Official Translation of the letter of Dr. XYZ dated DDMMYYYY", using the spanish translation on the backside of the color copy. I wouldn´be able to sign for the doctor, but I can type his / her name e.g. as:

(signed)
Dr. XYZ


Then I´d state below the letter that this is a true and correct translation of the letter on the other side of the paper and type my name under that statement, but would not sign yet.

Then I´d proceed to the next Mailboxes Etc. (mbe.com) and ask if they have a notary public on hand; typically one of the store clerks is one. (actually I might ask at Kinko´s, too). Ain´t nothing to do with a real notary as one may be used to from Europe.

I´d ask him or her to notarize my signature under the letter, i.e. that it is my signature. I´d have to show some ID, that´s it. I´d sign in front of the notary public. Cost would be a few bucks, nothing substantial.

The result would be a nicely stamped translation letter with notarized signature which is official enough for any border control.

And if I would need another letter for stating that I´d need syringes etc. to transport, I´d draw up a similar letter, sign by myself and have it certified :-)
Cheers
Chris
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  #15  
Old 26 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post

My advice, for whatever it's worth to you, is to quit fussing and hit the road.

Unless, of course, you're carrying cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine, in which case you're on your own.

Mark
Hi,

Yup I'm a worrywort. Chronic condition that I'm hoping to kick while on the trip. It's persistent b****r though.

(Off through Central and South America after Mexico so need the Malaria tablets anyway).

Thanks for the advice everyone.
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