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In Finland, you can buy medication only in pharmacies. Over-the-counter medicine, such as painkillers, can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. However, many medicines can only be bought with a prescription. Antibiotics, for example, are prescription drugs.

A prescription is written by a doctor. Some nurses are also 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 If the medicine is out-of-date, it should not be used.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.

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.

Link redirects to another websiteMinistry of Social Affairs and Health


Link redirects to another websiteAssociation of Finnish Pharmacies

Contact information for pharmacies

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, after you have bought reimbursable medicines for EUR 50 per calendar year. The initial deductible does not apply to children. It applies from the beginning of the year in which you turn 19 years old.

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.

Link redirects to another websiteThe Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Kela

Reimbursements for medicine expenses

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.