How to get your prescription medication as a foreigner living in Greece

When moving to Greece, there are plenty of every day necessities to remember as you plan for your new life abroad. If you are on prescription medication in your home country, this will certainly be one of the more important items on your moving abroad checklist.

You will need to ensure that you have an adequate amount of medication to tide you over during your move to Greece and a prescription to take with you for the first few months in Greece. To ensure that all goes well, it is a recommendation that you take out private healthcare insurance for you and your family that covers medication, that you will be able to renew regularly.

Will Greece have the same medication as my home country?

The same prescription medicine is not found in all countries. Some countries may have restrictions on which substances are available in prescribed medication.

As soon as you can, you should register with a local doctor in Greece and make an appointment to see them. Most doctors do speak some English as many were trained abroad. They will be able to quickly tell you whether they can prescribe the same medication or whether there is a similar product available on the Greek market.

Alternatively, you could speak to your health insurance provider to advise you on whether your medication is available in Greece and whether you will need an appointment to see a specialist or a family doctor.

Visit your new local pharmacy in Greece

There are many excellent pharmacies and pharmacists in Greece that are very well-trained, knowledgeable and usually speak some English. In larger Greek towns and tourist areas, they will speak good English.

Unlike in some other countries, you will find that your local pharmacist in Greece will be able to advise you on many minor health problems and stock some good treatments. Interestingly, the range of products available without prescription in Greece is wider than in many countries.

Your pharmacist will probably be registered with as this enables them to receive electronic prescriptions. If your GP in your home country is happy to register with the website, they will then be able to send your prescription electronically to your new pharmacist.

Greece has been using this electronic system for nearly ten years now and most large pharmacies use it. If you have moved to a smaller town or village, then there is the chance that your pharmacy is not a participant and you may have to travel to a larger town to find a pharmacy that is registered with  Your new doctor will certainly know which of the local pharmacies are in the scheme as almost all prescriptions are now dealt with electronically.

It is important for them to check that the dosage they are prescribing you is within the limits required in Greece. If not, the Greek pharmacist may not be able to dispense the medication and possibly more than one prescription might be needed.

People moving to Greece from the United States will find that there are generic drugs available in Greece for most of the American drug brands.

Getting your prescription if you are moving within the EU

If you are moving to Greece from another EU country, you can ask your doctor for an EU ‘cross border’ prescription before you leave. You will be able to use the prescription at a pharmacy in Greece and because it is a ‘cross border prescription’ this will ensure that if the same brand of medication is not available in Greece, you will be given the same generic medication.   

Challenges with certain medicine in Greece

In Greece and other parts of the EU, some drugs prescribed in countries outside the EU are ‘restricted substances’ and are not allowed to be brought into the country. One of the surprising medicines on this list is codeine and it cannot be brought into Greece even if it has been mixed with paracetamol.

If you travel to Greece with a ‘restricted substance’ in your possession and do not declare it, there are penalties and this is not a good way to start your new life abroad.

It is a good idea to research the medication you will need in Greece before you leave your home country. If you find that the prescription medication you need contains a restricted substance you will need a letter from your doctor explaining why you need this medication.

The doctor must clearly state the name of the drug you need and also its generic name. Before you arrive in Greece, you should have this letter translated by an official translator into Greek so that you can show it when needed.

If you need to bring the medication into Greece with you, it must be kept in its original packaging clearly showing its name and the dosage you are taking. At your arrival airport, you need to proceed through the red channel at Customs so that you can declare your medication and produce the letter and prescription from your doctor at home.

In discussions with your new doctor in Greece, you may find that they would like to explore the possibility of moving you onto similar medication that does not contain a restricted substance. 

Important resources about prescription medication in Greece:

UK government health travel advice
EU healthcare advice
US Department of State health travel advice



The post How to get your prescription medication as a foreigner living in Greece appeared first on Moving, living, retiring abroad.

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