A Guide To Bringing Your Prescription Medications To Japan

Packing for travel can be stressful, especially when you’re leaving your home country. You should know before heading to Japan that they have some strict rules regarding what you can and cannot bring into the country. 

If you are on any prescription medication or like to bring a first aid kit of sorts when you travel, you should know what preparations you need to make ahead of time so that you don’t have to ditch your much-needed medicine at airport security or customs

Before You Head To Japan 

The first thing you should do once you’ve booked your Japan trip is call the Japan consulate in your country. They will be the best source of information to find out what the current regulations are in terms of bringing medication into Japan. 

You can find additional information that will most likely cover common medicine online, but asking for some advice from your Consulate can help in areas where information is scarce.

Japan Consulate Via Ministry Of Foreign Affairs

The Consulate is there to help you so that you can stay safe in foreign countries. 

There are certain drugs and substances that are outright banned, and there isn’t much wiggle room when it comes to most of those.

If one of the drugs that are not allowed is something you need to bring with you as part of your necessary health routine, then you have to take some extra steps to bring it into Japan safely and legally. 

Anything that you are required to provide the Japanese government before your trip can take approximately a month to be processed.

Thus, you should plan ahead as much as possible. When you arrive in Japan, expect that you will be asked about your medications, and have copies of all of your paperwork with you at all times. 

Over The Counter Medication

You are allowed to bring a small supply of over-the-counter pain medication that you might typically use, such as Tylenol or Advil, though you don’t necessarily have to. You can purchase these medications if you need them in Japan. 

You are only allowed to bring in a certain amount of these medicines as well. This is to ensure that drugs are being brought in for personal use only and they are not going to be distributed elsewhere. 

There are some medications that are purchasable over the counter in other countries that aren’t allowed in Japan. Some of these medicines are ones you may not expect, such as certain brands of cold and flu medicines.

Prescription Medication

If you have a prescription that you need to bring with you to Japan, you might have to fill in some paperwork to declare it.

This paperwork should be completed before you arrive there. The paperwork consists of an import certificate known as a yunyu kakunin-sho or yakkan shoumei. However, you will only need to complete this depending on the amount you are bringing in. 

There are certain limits for different types of drugs before you have to do a yunyu kakunin-sho. For most types of permissible prescription medication, you can bring in a one-month supply without needing the import certificate. Otherwise, you will need to get the paperwork ready and send it to Japan before you go. 

If you are bringing medicine of any kind, whether it be prescription or over-the-counter, you should keep it all in its original container.

Do not put any pills in traveling cases or containers without any labels. They will end up being disposed of. 

There are some medications that are prescribed for important health conditions that are not allowed in Japan, so this may cause you some hurdles.

This is even with appropriate documentation, so you will have to call the Ministry to even try and bring these medicines with you. 

This includes some important ones, such as medications for some mental health conditions, so you either need to call or rethink your trip, as it’s unsafe to go without some of these prohibited drugs. 

Prescription Narcotics

Narcotics are not allowed to be brought into Japan. They are considered a prohibited substance and are illegal to possess.

If you happen to be on a prescription narcotic or psychotropic medication of any sort, you have to get permission granted from the Japanese government. You must do this before you head to Japan. 

Japans Parlament Building

You should also have documentation supporting your need for the narcotic, including a copy of your prescription. You will most likely have to show it when you arrive at the airport

Completing The Paperwork 

You will want to fill in the necessary paperwork and gather the proper documentation to send to Japan. You can send the paperwork in by mail or electronically.

You should have two copies of each to send in, and it’s wise to have an extra copy in your suitcase just in case. 

You will want to send in two copies of the import certificate you have filled out, two copies of a description of each medication you need to bring in, information regarding when you plan on visiting and how long your trip will be, as well as where you’ll be arriving. 

Additionally, you will have to send in a copy of your prescription as well as information regarding your dosage that is signed by your primary care physician.

To ensure you complete all the proper documentation and send it to the right place, you should contact the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare in Japan. 

Ministry Of Health Labor and Welfare Official Website

You have the opportunity to send in additional documents if your initial import certificate is not accepted. You don’t need to panic if you are asked to provide more information about the medicine you need to take with you. 

Medicinal Tools

If you have tools that you need for your medication, such as needles or injectors, you can bring these in. However, check the amount that you need to bring for your entire stay, as you may have to fill out an import certificate. 

Other Types Of Drugs And Substances

Marijuana is not legal in any form in Japan. It’s not sold in Japan in any capacity and it’s not allowed to be brought into the country either. Even if you have a prescription for marijuana, you won’t be allowed to bring it to Japan as it won’t be recognized as valid. 

You should also know that there are some regulations regarding bringing cosmetics and toiletries into Japan.

You are limited to how much you bring in, so consider packing light in that regard. If you end up needing cosmetics or toiletries, you’ll find plenty of options in Japan. 

The Consequences Of Bringing Prohibited Substances To Japan

These rules for medications are strictly held. The government does not make any exceptions for breaching these laws.

The punishments for bringing unallowed or undeclared drugs can be stringent, including fines and potential prison time

While the paperwork and declarations may seem like a hassle, it’s a much easier process to get it done than to try and navigate being in a foreign prison.

Bringing Drugs Into Japan Via US Embassy Website

Japan has some of the strictest laws when it comes to the drugs they deem inadmissible, and tourist ignorance is not enough to fight any potential charge that could come your way if you don’t comply with the protocols.

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.