Think before you take illegal drugs whilst on holiday. And never attempt to bring illegal drugs back to the UK.Lines of cocaine on a mirror.

You will be severely punished if you are caught taking drugs:

2,419 British nationals were detained overseas on 31 December 2007, just over 40% (978) for drugs-related offences.

Check our travel advice for the relevant country for information about local drug laws.

If you are caught with drugs, or caught trying to smuggle drugs, the British Embassy won’t be able to make local authorities drop charges against you or get you better conditions in jail.

Many countries outside the UK refuse to grant bail before trial, have harsh prison conditions and keep drugs-related offenders in solitary confinement.  In some countries narcotics-offences, including possession, result in the death penalty.

If you do make it back to the UK you’ll get a criminal record here for any offences you commit abroad. And it is unlikely you will be allowed to visit the country where you are arrested ever again.

If you are injured or become ill as a result of using illegal drugs, your travel insurance probably won’t be valid and medical bills can be extremely expensive.

And be aware that you won’t know the strength or purity of any illegal substances you buy abroad, and consequently how they might affect you.

Don’t be a victim of drugs traffickers:

  • pack all your luggage yourself and make sure its securely fastened
  • keep your luggage with you at all times at airports and other departure points
  • be wary of looking after other people’s possessions at airports
  • never carry anything through customs for someone else. If drugs are found you will be held responsible. For similar reasons don't cross borders with people you don't know or drive across borders with unknown companions
  • carry a doctor's prescription for any medication you may need to avoid unnecessary delays at customs and immigration checks
  • be cautious when accepting gifts from people abroad - it’s easy to hide drugs in items such as trainers, cosmetics and children’s toys
  • don’t allow yourself to be persuaded or coerced into carrying drugs. Is it worth risking your life or spending 7–20 years in jail for £2,000?

See Also


Arrested or detained abroad

Useful Links

Talk to Frank - confidential advice on drugs

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