Medical prescriptions, languages and translations


medical prescription

13 Jan Medical prescriptions, languages and translations

Shall medical prescriptions be translated? Some European legislation establishes that they can only be used when they are written in the national official language (and/or those recognised as official when applicable).

Scenarios for translating medical prescriptions

For example, in the case of Spain, medical prescriptions can only be presented at pharmacies when they are written in Spanish. But also in Galician in Galicia, in Catalan in Catalonia and in Basque in the Basque Country. This is a drug regulation for buying and selling medicines in pharmacies. So, why are not other languages accepted? It is just a measure for controlling drug traffic. If you try to buy some legal drugs with medical prescriptions that do not meet this essential requirement, you will not be allowed to.


Nevertheless, medical prescriptions can be translated into other languages for different purposes. Here is a list including some useful cases:

  • Are you travelling abroad with your medicines? If you need them, you can travel with those drugs and pass some airport controls and customs. But the pertinent translation of the medical prescriptions is highly recommended for avoiding any potential problem.
  • You may travel abroad but also need to buy some medicines in the visiting country. But, are you allowed to buy them without going to the foreign doctor? Some countries have different medical agreements and allow you do to that. But, it will always depend on the kind of medicine and on having the pertinent translation of such medical prescriptions – if the spoken languages are different between said countries. They all are prior requirements.
  • Some international insurance companies reimburse you all the medical fees after your trip. If you go to the doctor abroad and he/she issues you some medical prescriptions for going to the pharmacy, you can get the paid amount back; but you will probably need a medical translation of such document for recovering money from the insurance company.


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