What you should know about transporting medications in or out of Mexico
When buying drugs in Mexico and taking them back home, it is good to know proper procedure.
Countless people buy their blood pressure, arthritis, birth control and other drugs south of the border, while on vacation or heading back to the USA or Canada after spending the snowbird season in Mexico.
According to the Consulate General of the United States, it is actually not legal to purchase pharmaceutical drugs in Mexico and transport them across the border. There is a warning on their webpage, if you are willing to search for such information and prepared to follow their advice.
There is a “controlled list” and it is likely you will need a prescription for anything included on this list, such as painkillers, tranquilizers, and some diet pills. Cipro, the antibiotic, has also been added to this category. It is general knowledge that one may find a doctor, in or very near to the pharmacy, willing and able to write a prescription after a brief consultation. A three month supply of any drug is considered the limit and must have one’s own name on the prescription.
But what about bringing drugs into Mexico?
Lately there has been a big problem with one particular allergy medication that is a semi-controlled substance.
Though Mexico has required a prescription traveling either direction for nearly twenty years, it seems there’s recently been some reason to crack down on Pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is an OTC (Over the Counter) drug that may be used as a nasal/sinus decongestant, as a stimulant, or as a wakefulness-promoting agent.
In the USA, customers in pharmacies must show photo ID, sign for it, and are normally allowed to buy the legal limit for purchases, which is 9 grams per month – roughly the equivalent of two 15-dose boxes of 24-hour Claritin D, or three 10-dose boxes of Aleve Cold & Sinus, or six 24-dose boxes of Sudafed, for example.
When carrying these drugs through customs in Cancún or any other Mexican airport, it is highly recommended to have a written prescription in one’s possession. Pseudoephedrine is used in the production of methamphetamines and there has been a nearly fruitless effort to prevent the establishment of small and gargantuan mega-labs on both sides of the border.
Because of this, customs officers are being very meticulous and carefully inspecting travelers of all types. To be on the safe side, regardless of where one is traveling, it is wise to check customs and immigration policies of any country one plans to enter, via land, sea or air.
Our suggestion is to pack medications of all kinds together with cosmetics and answer any and all questions asked by the customs officers with excruciating politeness and grins. No comments are necessary when passing through customs in any Mexican airport. Yes and No responses, with a smile. Have a nice trip!