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American Citizen Services

Importing or Bringing Medication into Japan for Personal Use

Decisions on what medications or medical devices may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government, and unfortunately the limited information we have available at the American Embassy and our Consulates does not include comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients. This information is available only from the Japanese authorities, and subject to change.

Please read the below website provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare:

Over-The-Counter Medicines

It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited. Up to a two-months' supply of allowable over-the-counter medication and up to a four-months' supply of allowable vitamins can be brought into Japan duty-free.

Prescription Medications

Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Japanese customs officials have detained travelers carrying prohibited items, sometimes for several weeks. Japanese customs officials do not make on-the-spot "humanitarian" exceptions for medicines that are prohibited in Japan.

Generally, up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. Travelers must bring a copy of their doctor's prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug. Travelers who must carry more than one month's supply (except prohibited drugs and controlled drugs), or are carrying syringes (pumps) or a CPAP machine, are required to obtain a so-called "Yakkan Shoumei", or an import certificate in advance, and show the "Yakkan Shoumei" certificate with your prescription medicines at the Customs.

For more information about bringing medicines into Japan and how to obtain a "Yakkan Shoumei" Certificate, please visit the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare where you can also find an application form. When you make an inquiry to the Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Bureau, please do not forget to provide your fax number or your E-mail address.

Other Important Information

Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar, but not identical, substitutes to medicines available in the U.S. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available elsewhere on our web site. A Japanese doctor, consulted by phone in advance, is also a good source of information on medications available and/or permitted in Japan.

Some popular medications legal in the U.S., such as Prozac and Viagra, are sold illegally in Japan on the black market. You are subject to arrest and imprisonment if you purchase such drugs illegally while in Japan.

Learning More

Persons traveling to Japan carrying prescription and non-prescription medications should consult the Japanese Embassy, or a Japanese Consulate, in the United States before leaving the U.S. to confirm whether they will be allowed to bring the particular medication into Japan. A full listing of phone numbers and email addresses is available at http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulate-guide.html.