Home ยป A Guide To Bringing Medication To Japan in 2023
bringing medication to japan

A Guide To Bringing Medication To Japan in 2024

Japan allows many types of over-the-counter and prescription medications into the country so technically bringing medication to Japan isn’t illegal, however, for medications that are prohibited, you risk arrest, detainment, and/or confiscation for importing medicine that hasn’t been approved by the Japanese ministry.

If you are bringing medications on your trip, you’ll want to check out the Ministry of Heath Labour and Welfare of Japan website. There you can find the most up-to-date information.

We recently wrote an article on Japan plug travel power adapters so be sure to check that out if you plan on traveling to Japan in the near future.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Always check with the relevant authorities before importing drugs or medicine into Japan.

Can I bring over-the-counter medication?

Many prohibited medications include OTC medicine. Japanese law prohibits a wider range of drugs than America. Specifically, if the drugs contain narcotic or stimulant ingredients, Japanese customs officials may be on the lookout for them.

Prohibited OTC drugs

OTC drugs

Among the drugs prohibited include common painkillers and sinus medicine.

Some of the common drugs prohibited in Japan are:

  • Tylenol Cold
  • Nyquil and Nyquil Liquicaps
  • Actifed
  • Sudafed
  • Advil Cold and Sinus medications
  • Dristan Cold and Dristan Sinus

Check out the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle for more information.

The two-month rule for over-the-counter drugs

For OTC medications that are not prohibited, there is a limit to how much you can bring. You may bring up to two months’ worth of medications. If you wish to bring more, you will need to file with the Japanese government.

Can I bring a doctor’s prescription medicine?

The Japanese government generally allows prescription medicines in Japan. The medicines will have to be for personal use, not be illegal, and be of an allowable quantity.

Those bringing medicine that is classified as prohibited medications into Japan risk arrest. Japanese customs officials have been known to detain some people who travel to Japan, with detainment lasting at times for several weeks.

Bring a note

If you are bringing prescription items into Japan, you’ll want to have artifacts from your local care provider. Specifically, be sure to have a physician complete a letter stating the purpose and the dosage. It is also recommended to bring the prescription.

Keep in mind that if you have your doctor’s note in your email or on your phone somewhere that requires access to the internet, be sure you have a Japan eSIM set up when you land to show it after you get off your flight and head into the airport.

Not all prescription medicines

Even if the drug is not available in Japan, Japanese customs officials may still consider the drug an allowable prescription medicine. However, there are certain categories in Japan that are generally prohibited.

Prohibited categories include

  • Hallucinogens
  • Narcotics and amphetamines
  • Psychotropics

One month supply

The Japanese government limits prescription medication to one month’s supply. The rule applies whether you are bringing them on your person or mailing them.

If you require more than a month’s supply, you’ll need to apply for a Yunyu Kakunin-sho, a type of import certificate.

Should I apply for a Yunyu Kakunin-Sho?

A Yunyu Kakunin-Sho is a kind of import certificate that Japan requires in a couple of scenarios.

First, if the quantity of either over-the-counter medicines or prescription medications is greater than the 2-month or 1-month supply rule (respectively), you should fill out the form.

Second, if you have medication that requires a syringe but you are only bringing the syringes, you will need to fill out a Yunyu Kakunin-sho. In this case, the syringes are imported as medical devices. If you are importing the syringe with the medication, for insulin, for example, you should not have a problem following the one-month rule.

It is recommended to apply for the Yunyu Kakunin-Sho at least 2 weeks before your trip.

What else should I know?

Email for more info

If you have questions or cannot find information via the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, email yakkan@mhlw.go.jp. You may also check with the Kanto shin’etsu regional bureau of health or the Kinki regional bureau of health and welfare depending on your arrival airport. Find their respective contact information here.

Adderall and Vyvanse

These are two drugs that contain amphetamines and are illegal.

Other drugs common in the United States

Many drugs used to treat depression, ADHD, and even allergies, are illegal. The drug’s active ingredients may fall into a category generally prohibited in Japan.

CBD

CBD

Japan does not permit any form of marijuana whatsoever and strictly prohibits all marijuana products. This restriction extends to CBD oil, even if THC is not an ingredient.

Inhalers

Japan allows one inhaler per person, and some inhalers may be banned.

Vicks inhalers contain stimulant drugs, and are one example of a prohibited item due to anti-stimulant drug laws.

Foreign prescriptions not honored

A foreign prescription cannot be used in Japan to obtain medicine. For your medications, it is recommended to bring a sufficient amount for your stay. Remember to apply for additional amounts if importing medicines beyond the 1-month or 2-month supply allowance.

Summary

If you are bringing medicines into Japan, it is important the drugs are not illegal, within the allowable amounts, and for personal use.

Remember to check out the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan website, and email respective parties for more information as needed.

Best of travels!

Also, be sure to check out our guide on the legal drinking age in Japan and drinking laws.

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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