Bringing Medications into Japan

Japan has specific regulations regarding the importation of medications, and it is essential for travelers to be aware of these guidelines before arriving in the country. While the American Embassy and Consulates can provide some information, the Japanese authorities are the ultimate authority on what medications are allowed into the country. It’s important to note that these regulations can change, so it is essential to stay updated on the current guidelines.

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Certain over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States are prohibited in Japan. This includes inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Products that contain stimulants, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers, as well as those containing pseudoephedrine or codeine, are strictly prohibited.

Travelers can bring up to a two-month supply of allowable over-the-counter medications and up to a four-month supply of allowable vitamins into Japan duty-free. However, it is important to note that disposable contact lenses are also subject to similar regulations. If you plan to bring more than a two-month supply of any medication or vitamin, it must be declared via an import certificate.

Prescription Medications

Generally, travelers can bring up to one month’s supply of allowable prescription medications into Japan. It is crucial to bring a copy of the doctor’s prescription, as well as a letter stating the purpose of the medication. However, if you need to carry more than one month’s supply or are carrying syringes, you must apply for an import certificate called the Yunyu Kakunin-sho before entering Japan. To apply for this certificate or obtain more information, you can visit the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare’s website.

It is important to note that some US prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even with a valid prescription. This includes medications containing stimulants or any form of marijuana, including CBD oil. It is crucial to check with the Regional Bureaus of Health and Welfare in Japan to confirm if your medication is allowed, as the list of prohibited medications is subject to change.

ADHD Medication in Japan

When it comes to medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it is essential to be aware that all medications containing stimulants are prohibited in Japan. This includes popular medications like Adderall, which is commonly used to treat ADHD symptoms in the US. It is crucial to note that while Ritalin is available in Japan for sleep disorders, it is not prescribed for ADHD patients. If you plan to bring your own ADHD medication into Japan, it is advisable to send an inquiry to one of Japan’s Regional Bureaus of Health and Welfare to ensure your current prescription is allowed.

Consequences of Importing Prohibited Medications

Importing prohibited medications into Japan can have severe consequences. Possessing such medications, even with a foreign prescription, can lead to arrest and imprisonment. Japanese customs officials have detained travelers carrying prohibited items for extended periods, sometimes weeks. It’s important to understand that customs officials do not make exceptions for medications that are prohibited in Japan, even in humanitarian cases.

Other Important Information

If you require medication during your stay in Japan, it is worth noting that Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar but not identical substitutes to medicines available in the US. Consulting with a Japanese doctor in advance, either via phone or in person, can provide useful information on medications that are available and permitted in Japan.

Additionally, it’s important to be cautious about purchasing medications illegally in Japan. Some popular medications that are legal in the US, such as Prozac and Viagra, are sold on the black market in Japan. However, buying these drugs illegally can result in arrest and imprisonment.

Tips on Preparing for Travel

To ensure a smooth experience when bringing permitted medication to Japan or applying for an import certificate, it is recommended to email either the Kanto-Shin’etsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare (if arriving at Narita or Haneda) or the Kinki Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare (if arriving at Kansai International Airport). Providing detailed information about your prescription, including your diagnosis, the drug’s active ingredients, dosage, and the amount you plan to bring, can help expedite the process. If you need assistance, you can also contact AKP.

When bringing prescription medication from the United States, it is crucial to keep a prescription or a letter from the doctor with the medication at all times in case any issues arise. It is also essential to ensure that prescription medicine is not brought in an unmarked bottle or a bottle labeled for a different medication.

Since US prescriptions are not honored in Japan, travelers with ongoing prescription medication needs should ensure they have a sufficient supply to last until they can see a local healthcare provider. Consulting with your healthcare provider at home can help determine the best course of action if you are unable to obtain your medication in Japan.

Learning More

For additional information, the Compliance and Narcotics Division, Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare website provides more details about medication importation at https://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/health-medical/pharmaceuticals/01.html. You can also visit https://jp.usembassy.gov/ for more information on English-speaking medical facilities and importing medicines into Japan.

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