Medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad

EU countries must recognise prescriptions issued in other EU member states. You can ask your doctor to provide a ‘Medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad’ if you intend to purchase medication in another EU country.


Prescriptions issued in other EU countries must be filled at Finnish pharmacies and Finnish prescriptions must be filled in other EU countries. The reciprocal recognition of European prescriptions based on the EU Patient Directive only applies to the EU countries. EEA countries and Switzerland can fill prescriptions issued in EU countries, but are not obliged to do so.

If you wish to purchase prescription medication in a country that does not belong to the EU, you will normally require a prescription issued by a local health care professional.

Prescriptions issued in countries other than other EU or EEA countries or Switzerland cannot be used to purchase medicines in Finland.

The prescriptions are issued using the name of the active substance

You can purchase medication in another EU country with a prescription issued in Finland – this is called a ‘Medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad’. The prescription is issued using the name of the active substance in the medicine when the intention is to purchase the medication in another member country. The medicine can be prescribed using the trade name if the product in question is a biological medicine or if the use of the trade name is medically justified. The doctor in question must justify the use of the trade name in the prescription. The prescription is available in Finnish and English or in Swedish and English.

In addition to this, the following principles apply to the prescription:

  • The reciprocal acknowledgment of prescriptions does not apply to medicines that are classified as narcotics or narcotics or psychotropic medicines. Therefore, such medication cannot be obtained abroad with a prescription issued in Finland.
  • The period of validity of the prescription is defined based on the legislation of the country where the medication is purchased. In Finland, a prescription is usually valid for two years.
  • A pharmacy may refuse to fill a prescription issued in another country if there is doubt of the authenticity or validity of the prescription.

The authorities of EU countries can exchange information on the rights of health care professionals to prescribe medication if the authenticity of a prescription is in doubt, for example. If a pharmacy suspects the authenticity of a prescription issued in another EU country, it may request a contact point for cross-border health care to determine the right of the person who issued the prescription to prescribe medication.

The layout of the prescriptions vary between EU countries

EU legislation only defines what information the prescription must contain for it to be eligible for filling in another member country. Therefore, there is no standardised prescription form for the entire EU area. Instead, the prescription forms used in various countries vary in terms of their layout.

Since there are no electronic systems for processing prescriptions between EU countries, paper forms are used for obtaining medication in another member country. Finland uses a separate electronic prescription form for purchasing medication abroad. In place of a patient guide, the doctor prints out a medical prescription for purchasing medication abroad

Prices of medication abroad

You can read more about the prices of medication abroad on the websites of the pharmacies or by contacting the country’s contact point.