Dealing with medication while studying abroad

Hello! For today’s blog, I thought I would share with you my experience dealing with medication while in the UK. If it can be any relief to you, it is really quite simple getting your medications while studying abroad in the UK.

One of the first things you should do when you arrive at the University of Surrey is to register with a GP. We are quite lucky here at Surrey that we have a medical centre right here on campus. You can pre-register on-line at You can also pop-by in person where you can speak with the receptionist who will make you fill out a questionnaire. All you need is your student card and your Biometric Residence Permit card. You will then be able to book free consultations to see a General Practitioner (GP).

When registering, you will be asked about your current medication regime. As advised by a UK guide, it is wise to bring with you copies of your existing medication or prescription and any specialist letters or results of recent tests. You could be given slightly different medication from the one originally prescribed, as some medications from abroad are not available in the UK. In some cases you will need to be referred to a local specialist before your medication is prescribed. Once you receive a UK equivalent of your prescription you can then take it to any pharmacy (or chemist as they are sometimes referred to here) to get your prescription filled. You will be charged a flat rate of 8.60GBP for each medication that is covered by the National Health Service (NHS).

Alternatively, you can get a ‘vacation supply’ of your medications from the pharmacy at home. If you time it correctly your insurance may be able to cover your vacation supply. However, it is possible that you will have to pay for the medication outright. For me, being that I knew I would be coming home approximately every three months, I decided to use this method.

If you are bringing with you medication containing a controlled substance, you will need to apply for an import license which is quite straight forward. You can check out this helpful webpage for more information:

If you are travelling with liquid medication that is temperature sensitive then you can carry them onto an aircraft in an insulated cooler bag. You will have to tell the TSA agent as the start of the screening process that you have medically necessary liquids. Once again, best to carry with you your prescriptions and a letter from your doctor with a short explanation given that you could be bringing with you large amounts of medication given how long you might be away.

As for treatments, we are entitled to free or subsidised emergency and medical treatment under the National Health Service (NHS) while you are studying.

I hope this information will be useful to you. I know it can seem daunting at first to think of all of these details in the preparation of your big move, but know that the International Student Support team are incredibly helpful. If you have any doubts, send them an email at or call them at +44 (0)1483 689902.