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In Finland, you can buy medication in pharmacies. Self-care medication (itsehoitolääke) can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. For example, most painkillers are regarded as self-care medication. However, for many medicines you will need a prescription (lääkemääräys) before you can buy them. Antibiotics, for example, are prescription drugs. A prescription is written by a doctor. Also part of the nurses are allowed to prescribe certain medicines.

If you have a long-term illness, take your old prescriptions to the doctor’s surgery, and the doctor will take them into account when writing a new one.

A prescription is valid for two years from the date it was written. If you have a prescription that you have acquired abroad, it is not valid in Finland. Prescriptions that have been written in another Nordic country and EU cross-border prescriptions are an exception and are valid in Finland. You must specifically ask for an EU cross-border prescription from your doctor. Health care specialists who work in an EU or EEA country or Switzerland and are entitled to prescribe medicines are allowed to issue EU cross-border prescriptions.

The product’s use-by date is indicated on the medicine package. If the medicine is out-of-date, it should not be used. Do not throw away old medicines; instead, always take them to the pharmacy (apteekki), because they are hazardous waste.

Information about pharmaceutical productsFinnish

Electronic prescriptionFinnish | Swedish | English

Where do I get medicine from?

You can buy medicine from pharmacies. Branch pharmacies, pharmacy service points and pharmacy online services are all a part of a pharmacy’s services. In Finland, by law, medicine cannot be sold elsewhere. Vitamins and biodynamic products are also sold in grocery shops.

Pharmacies are usually open from morning until evening. In larger cities there may be pharmacies that are open later at night. You can find information about the pharmacies in your locality and their opening times on the website of the Association of Finnish Pharmacies (Apteekkariliitto).

At a pharmacy, you can exchange medication that has been prescribed for you for another cheaper medicine, if the effective substance is the same in both. The pharmacy staff will tell customers if there is a cheaper option available.

linkkiMinistry of Social Affairs and Health:
PharmaciesFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian

linkkiAssociation of Finnish Pharmacies:
Contact information for pharmaciesFinnish

Kela reimbursements for medicine

If you are covered by Finnish national health insurance (sairausvakuutus), the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) pays a part of the price of many medicines. Reimbursement is not given for medicine that is bought without a prescription. You cannot get reimbursement until you have met the initial deductible (alkuomavastuu), in other words, you have bought reimbursable medicines worth more than EUR 50 per year. The initial deductible does not apply to persons under 18 years of age.

You can receive the reimbursement immediately at the pharmacy when buying a product. The reimbursement is deducted from the price of the medicine at the cash desk. You can also apply for the reimbursement afterwards by filling in the appropriate form. Attach to the form the calculation of the medicine purchase given to you at the pharmacy and the sales receipt.

For more information about who is covered by Finnish national health insurance, go to the InfoFinland web page Finnish social security.

linkkiThe Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Kela:
Reimbursements for medicine expensesFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiKela :
Health and rehabilitationFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Estonian | Sami

Medication from abroad

You are allowed to bring some medicines to Finland with you from abroad for your personal use. There are, however, restrictions on the imports of medicines. These restrictions depend on what kind of medication it is and the country from which it is brought to Finland. In addition, you must be able to prove with a prescription or medical certificate, for example, that the medicine is intended for your personal use.

Please find out about any restrictions before bringing medicine to Finland. You also need to find out about restrictions, if you want to order medicine by post to Finland.

You are allowed to bring medication with you from an EEA member state for personal use in the amount that corresponds to one year’s use. By post, you can order medication from countries within the EEA in the amount that corresponds to no more than three months’ use.

From outside the EEA, you can bring with you medication to Finland for personal use in the amount that corresponds to no more than three months’ use. The law stipulates that medicine cannot be ordered by post from outside the EEA area.

If a medicine has been classified as a drug, stricter restrictions apply to it.

If you are unsure whether a medicine can be brought to Finland, ask for more information at the Customs (Tulli). You can find more information on the websites of the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea (Lääkealan turvallisuus- ja kehittämiskeskus Fimea) and Customs.

If you order medicines from abroad, you are not entitled to reimbursement for them from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).

There are some online pharmacies in EU countries from which you can legally buy self-care medicine. However, the majority of the medicine stores on the internet are illegal. You may also put your health at risk if you buy medicine from an illegal medicine store on the internet.

Personal medicationFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinnish Medicines Agency:
Importing medicines to FinlandFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinnish Medicines Agency:
Internet sales of medicinesFinnish | Swedish | English