Prescription abroad

Prescription abroad

A patient travelling abroad needs to carry with them an account of their existing prescriptions. While abroad, you can buy medicines with an e-prescription in Estonia, Croatia, Portugal, Poland and Spain.

The prescriber can also issue a prescription in English if there is a need to buy medicines abroad elsewhere than in Estonia, Croatia, Portugal, Poland or Spain.

Copy of electronic prescriptions for travelling abroad

For travelling abroad, patients may ask the prescriber of their medicines or the pharmacy for a signed English-language summary printout "Copy of electronic prescriptions" on their prescription details stored in the Prescription Centre. The copy may only be issued on dispensed prescriptions.

Using electronic prescriptions abroad

With an electronic prescription, you can buy prescribed medicines also in European pharmacies that are set up to dispense medications on a foreign electronic prescription. At this time, medicines can be bought from Estonian, Croatian, Portuguese, Polish and Spanish pharmacies.

Medicines do not include, e.g. base creams, clinical nutritional preparations, care supplies, dietary supplements, or dressings.

The following are not available from foreign pharmacies on an electronic prescription:

  • narcotics
  • CNS drugs that require the original prescription (CNS class PA or ZA)
  • medications prepared in the pharmacy
  • combination packages containing several preparations
  • special license preparations for compassionate use that are patient specific
  • preparations prescribed for a specific period of time (such as when the prescribed amount of medicine is expressed verbally as for example “medication for 12 months’ use”)
  • preparations that can be dispensed at specific intervals of for example one month. Such prescriptions have the words ‘iter semel’, ‘iter bis’ or ‘iter ter’ on them
  • preparations associated with a doctor’s fee that have not yet been dispensed in Finland.

To be taken into account when issuing prescriptions

The most common reason for not being able to purchase medicine abroad is that the medicine has been prescribed for a certain period. When issuing a prescription, please check that the quantity of medicine has been given as the total quantity or as packages.

Any medicines dispensed abroad are shown in the prescription details in the same way as medicines dispensed in Finland. If the medicine was dispensed by a pharmacy in another European country based on a different unit of measurement (such as in millilitres rather than vials), the amount of medicine left on the prescription is reset to zero and no more medicine can be dispensed on the prescription. The prescription will have to be renewed.

Paper prescription for purchasing medication abroad

The prescriber can write a prescription titled “Prescription for purchasing abroad” if the patient needs to buy medication while staying in a foreign country other than Estonia, Croatia, Portugal, Poland or Spain. In place of the patient instructions, the prescriber prints an English-language prescription in this case. The prescription cannot be used to purchase medicines in Finland.

Information about medicines dispensed abroad is not recorded in the Prescription Centre.

The following drugs cannot be prescribed for purchasing abroad

  • CNS drugs containing narcotics or requiring an original prescription
  • medications prepared in the pharmacy.

The EU countries must recognise prescriptions issued in other member states. A pharmacy may refuse to dispense a prescription issued in another member state if it has doubts regarding the authenticity or propriety of the prescription. The pharmacy dispenses the medicines in accordance with the legislation of its own country.

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Last updated 24.10.2023