How long is a prescription valid for?

Published on: 2nd September 2013 | Updated on: 30th March 2022


Is This Prescription Form Valid?
Controlled Drug
Prescription Forms & Validity
Repeat Dispensing

The table below summarises the length of legal validity for supply of medicine against different types of NHS prescription:

Type of prescription

1st issue –

end of validity for real-life dispensing


Subsequent issues validity period (if any) for real-life dispensing


All types of FP10 prescriptions for all medicinal products including Schedule 5 Controlled Drugs (CDs) (excluding requests for Schedule 1, 2, 3 or 4 CDs) 6 months 12 months for repeatable prescriptions from the signed date.
FP10 for Schedule 1, 2 or 3 CDs 28 days N/A (cannot be on repeatable prescriptions)
FP10 for Schedule 4 CDs 28 days 12 months for repeatable prescriptions from the signed date.
FP10MDA prescriptions 28 days In accordance with instalment directions.
A prescriber can request up to 14 days’ supply.

*from the ‘appropriate date’ (either the date the prescription was signed or a date indicated by the prescriber as the date before which the drug cannot be supplied)

Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)

The table above applies to supply against paper and electronic prescriptions but this is a separate matter to the sending of EPS prescription messages and the EPS claim reconciliation period. For information on EPS timings see here.

The national EPS system will prevent dispense messages being sent for those EPS prescriptions older than six months.

In addition, EPS claim notifications must be sent within 180 days (six months) of the final dispense message, and may not be priced after this time. The NHS Digital dispensing system specification explains EPS 180-day time limits are to ensure that the size of the prescription database on the Spine remains manageable.

EPS and CDs: EPS dispense/claim messages will be sent from time to time after the supply of medicine (e.g. because of technical or internet outage) and therefore there is no need for system suppliers to put up barriers interrupting reimbursement. Your system supplier may be able to assist in future (if it does not already) with the prevention of medicine being actually supplied after the end of validity period (table above) e.g. by providing warnings when relevant dates will/have pass(ed) without blocking appropriate reimbursement being possible.


For prescriptions requesting Schedule 1, 2, 3 or 4 CDs, owings cannot be dispensed later than 28 days after the appropriate date on the prescription. It is good practice for the pharmacist to make the patient or their representative aware at the outset that they will not be able to collect the balance after the 28 day period has elapsed.

The owing balance of prescriptions for prescriptions for Schedule 5 CDs and other medicines that are not CDs cannot be collected more than 6 months after the appropriate date. The exception is for owings for repeatable prescriptions (which have a maximum validity of 12 months from the prescriber’s date).

Also, it is important to note that owings are not appropriate for CDs which are being supplied in instalments, as the quantity of the instalment dispensed must be exactly as specified on the prescription. Any missed instalments can only be given on the following day if the prescriber has specified this is permissible – the Home Office has approved specific wording to be used that gives pharmacists a degree of flexibility when making a supply There is wording which allows a pharmacy to supply the balance of an instalment if the interval date is missed (e.g. if three days’ supply was directed to be supplied on day 1 but it was missed, it could allow two days’ supply to be issued on day 2).

Related Resources

Is this prescription form valid?

Controlled Drug prescription forms and validity

How to identify prescriber codes

Who can prescribe what?

What does the patient pay?

Prescription form section of the Pricing Authority’s website (external)

Claiming EPS scripts in time (Community Pharmacy England)

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