Importing medicinal products by post is prohibited
Both non-prescription (over-the-counter) and prescription medicinal products may be stopped. Even if you have been given a prescription by a Norwegian doctor, it does not entitle you to purchase a corresponding medicine from abroad. Remember that a product may be considered medicinal in Norway even if it is not considered to be one in the country from which the product is being imported. Illegally imported medicines may be confiscated and destroyed by Norwegian Customs.
Regulations: Section 3-2 of the Regulation on manufacture and import of medicinal products.
Approved Norwegian online pharmacies
There are approved Norwegian online pharmacies which send both non-prescription and prescription medicines by post.
In the case of illegal imports, you may be reported to the police (depending on the severity of the offence). You may be reported for a breach of the Medicinal Products Act, Section 31, or the Penal Code, Section 231 and 232 (narcotic substances) or Section 234 and 235 (doping agents).
Anyone who imports products has a responsibility to be aware of the regulations applicable to the import of goods and services and can therefore not expect to get any money back if an illegally imported product is stopped by Norwegian Customs.
Import permits in special cases
In special cases, the Norwegian Medicines Agency may permit imports of medicinal products for personal use if they are absolutely necessary. This could for example apply to people who:
- are on holiday or staying temporarily in Norway
- have recently arrived to Norway and not yet registered with a doctor
- have started a treatment abroad and are being sent medicinal products which are necessary in order to complete the treatment
How do I apply for an import permit?
We do not issue import permits until the package has been stopped by Norwegian Customs. This is because we must assess the actual content of the package in collaboration with Norwegian Customs.
The shipping company will notify you if the package is stopped by Norwegian Customs. You should then send an e-mail to the company, using the e-mail address you will find at the bottom of the notification letter. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is the address to Posten Norge AS. Remember that the shipping company and not Norwegian Customs will store the package until it is dispatched or destroyed/returned.
In the e-mail, you should briefly explain what has happened and attach a photograph of the notification letter. The shipping company will then register the case and forward it to the Norwegian Medicines Agency for consideration. The Norwegian Medicines Agency will process the case as soon as possible, provided that you submit an import application as soon as you receive the notification. We do not wish to receive sensitive personal information by e-mail, but we need to know what the consignment contains and why you need to receive the medicinal products from abroad.
Medicinal products which are not available in Norway
The Norwegian Medicines Agency does not normally issue import permits to private individuals if the argument is that the medicinal product because it is not available in Norway. Your doctor can apply for exemption from the requirement for approval for such medicines ("godkjenningsfritak") and the pharmacy will provide you with the medicinal product.
What may be stopped by Norwegian Customs?
Summary of the rules applicable to vitamins, herbs, dietary supplements and other products.
My package has been stopped - why?
To request an explanation of why your package has been stopped by Norwegian Customs, send an e-mail with a list of the products contained in the consignment (preferably with a link to online information about the product). Use the e-mail address email@example.com. We will assess whether the package has been stopped by mistake and reply to you before the package is returned or destroyed.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency cannot carry out an advance assessment of whether or not a product is likely to be stopped by Norwegian Customs - why is that?
The Norwegian Medicines Agency approves medicinal products which are to be sold in Norway and monitors both ordinary and online pharmacies. This ensures that medicinal products that are sold in Norway are effective, safe and of good quality. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has a corresponding responsibility regarding dietary supplements.
There are thousands of health products for sale on foreign websites, and it is often difficult to obtain accurate information concerning the substances that these products actually contain. The Norwegian authorities do not have the resources to help private individuals to assess these products. The authorities in Norway give priority to ensuring that products that are sold in Norway are safe to use.
Be careful about what you order online
Many products which are available from foreign websites are advertised as dietary supplements or cosmetics. You should be aware that the Norwegian authorities have not necessarily assessed whether such products are safe to use. If you order such products, you bear much of the risk associated with their import and use.
Many foreign online pharmacies operate illegally. There is a considerable risk that the medicines that they sell are counterfeit and do not contain what is stated on the packaging. The doses may be either too low, with the result that the desired effect is not achieved, or too high, with the resultant risk of serious side effects.
Read more about the dangers of buying medicines online at helsenorge.no.