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Beijing2012

What is needed in the physician letter you present to customs for bringing in prescription medications?

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Beijing2012

I am an American citizen who is moving to China for two years. Earlier you had helped answer some of my questions about bringing Adderall in through customs. I was told I should have a letter from my doctor and a prescription with me. I had a number of follow-up questions on that. I want to know the procedure for any other medications.

As far as the letter from my physician (for both ADD and non-ADD meds):

Do I need it for other prescription meds or just ones such as Adderall that have more restrictions?

Do I need a mandarin translation of it? If so, do I need a medical translation of it or can a Chinese friend who is a layperson do it?

What needs to be in the letter?

What should NOT be in it?

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liuzhou

If you are carrying medication into China in your general baggage, no one is going to pay the slightest bit of attention. If they are being posted to you, probably the same.

Any advice that you should have a letter / prescription from a medically qualified source abroad is sound, but almost certainly unnecessary. They will look at it and ignore it.

Don't waste your time or money having it translated. In the highly unlikely event that they do really want a translation they will get one of their own people to mistranslate it anyway. The customs boss's second cousin's daughter once read an English text book. That and Google translate or equivalent will be more important a source than anything you can come up with.

There are better things to worry about.

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edelweis

yes, bring a supply of shoelaces.

Edit: seriously though, I brought some medication with a prescription in French. The drug name on the prescription was not the same as on the medication package (it was a generic version).

But anyway the customs never looked at the contents of my carry-on luggage, even when I naively told the customs people I had chocolate, they just waved me away.

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Beijing2012

So, are you saying I should not declare it? Mostly your responses involve them not checking luggage. I have had some people say not to declare, but wouldn't they get pissed if I don't declare it. I don't even know what I am legally supposed to do?

Second, edelweis or anyone else who knows about this - when they say to bring the prescription, do they mean the one that filled that bottles (so if I had one for a bottle from March of this year, do I bring a copy of that one, or a recent new rx?

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abcdefg
So, are you saying I should not declare it? Mostly your responses involve them not checking luggage. I have had some people say not to declare, but wouldn't they get pissed if I don't declare it. I don't even know what I am legally supposed to do?

What I would suggest is not to volunteer the information that you have medication with you, although if asked by a customs official, then be truthful and say yes. If the customs official asks to see the medication and the paperwork showing that it was legally prescribed for you, then show it to him without hesitation.

Just don't rattle on with lots of needless nervous chatter. This may turn a simple situation into a complicated one and will, at best, slow you down. The more you talk, the more chance you have of saying something that he is not sure about or doesn't like hearing. Clarification then requires calling a superior and taking you off line for a more detailed private interview.

Keep the medicines in their original prescription bottles, don't dump several bottles together into a plastic baggie.

Second, edelweis or anyone else who knows about this - when they say to bring the prescription, do they mean the one that filled that bottles (so if I had one for a bottle from March of this year, do I bring a copy of that one, or a recent new rx?

Any fairly recent prescription will do. No need to get a new one. You earlier asked about a physician letter, so I'll comment on that as well.

What needs to be in the letter?

What should NOT be in it?

As to your Adderal, just ask your doctor to give you a short note on his letterhead stationary. The note/letter should be in English only (no translation needed) and here is what it should say, over his signature:

"I prescribed xxxxx (name of medicine) for yyyyy (name of patient) for treatment of a medical condition."

If you are bringing in a large amount of medication (such as a one year supply) you might want to ask you doctor to add mention of the amount prescribed.

Some (maybe all) of these precautions are probably not actually necessary, but if they set your mind at ease, then go ahead and do them. No harm in it.

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Cochrane

This has been helpful information. I am thinking of going to China in January but can only

take a three month supply of my medication Copaxone. Does anyone know how many days

it takes for medication to be shipped (I would ship ups) This is important because copaxone

needs to be refrigerated. (It is O.K. at room temperature for 5 to 7 days only)

Leona Cochrane

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abcdefg

#6 -- Shipped from where?

Edit: Answer doesn't really matter. It would be a very bad idea to count on a critical and perishable medication like this arriving at your door in China in 5 to 7 days from anywhere. It can easily spend that long or longer just sitting on a shelf in China customs while while some low ranking official tries to figure out if it's some new kind of illegal dope he just has not seen before.

Your medical condition (I assume MS) could then get seriously out of control and you could wind up in a hospital some place where they are still using snake wine or dried scorpions to treat this particular ailment.

Even the initial supply, along with the necessary needles and syringes, could cause problems at customs regardless of how well prepared you were with prescriptions and official letters of authorization. Not saying it wouldn't get through, but it could easily cause raised eyebrows and delays.

I would suggest thinking real carefully about a prolonged trip to China, especially if your plans include visiting or living in places outside first-tier cities. Sorry to discourage you, but it would be irresponsible of me to do otherwise if in fact you do have solidly-diagnosed MS. China is still part of the "developing" world and you won't have a strong medical safety net here.

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Beijing2012

I want to thank everyone who gave me advice. As you said, they just waved me through, I even walked back a few steps to make sure I did not accidentally circumvent anything (I didn't). As someone said, I felt silly for being such a worrier.

Cochrane: I know nothing about MS, or about Copaxone, but make sure you do your research before letting anyone tell you not to come to China in terms of a first-tier city. I live in Beijing and I am within walking distance of a major expat hospital (stick with expat facilities for what you are wanting -- they are expensive though).

Why is it that you can only bring in a 3 month supply? I am under the impression you can bring in a supply of medications that is equal to how long your visa indicates you will be staying in China. I have checked probably everything (in English) that exists and, unless syringes are a different category, you should have no restrictions that I am aware of. Is the restriction due to your doctor or insurance company?

As the previous poster suggests, I would be very careful about having anything shipped, if possible (though the US embassy/consulate said it can, but have just brought what I needed and went back for more. With all the research I did about customs, I never saw anyone having their meds seized (while I was not carrying syringes, I saw many posts saying even syringes for medication were not seized). However, it was a mixed bag for shipments (to this day I have not shipped it), where I have heard of medication not arriving or being seized.

Here is what I would do: Go on language exchange sites (just google "China" and "language exchange" -- you will find the Chinese english learners there show greater kindness to strangers than anyone I ever met in America. Instead of language exchange, tell them you will help them with English and, in exchange, you need them to make a few phone calls (if you don't have Skype, get it). I would pick someone at a more advanced level to help you or they will not understand what you want them to ask the hospital for you. Contrary to popular belief, it can be incredibly difficult to get someone who speaks English at a high-level to understand your medication when you are just calling in, even at an "expat" hospital.

Let us know also what city/area, you will be in. If you are in Beijing here is where you can start

http://www.beijing.alloexpat.com/beijing_information/hospitals_in_beijing.php

I would also make sure to purchase the best medical evacuation insurance you can, given your condition.

If you have any further questions please let me know and (if you can) message me.

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imron
and (if you can) message me.

Or even better (assuming you didn't want to keep things private), post about it here so future readers can also benefit from the discussion.

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abcdefg

#6 -- @Cochrane -- I realize I've overstepped my brief. You only asked about shipping meds and I replied much more broadly about health issues while in China. Apologize for that and hope you don't take offense.

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