Bringing Medication for Personal Use Into Japan

Access to medication is essential, especially for travelers who may be away from home for a long period of time. It is always good to check what types of medication are allowed when entering a foreign country, whether they are over the counter or prescription meds.  The policies of most countries differ widely on what types of medicines are available, and it is best for you to prepare before traveling.

meds1In Japan, bringing medication from overseas into the country is controlled by the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law and the Customs Law. This is observed primarily to prevent health hazards caused by defective products. It is important for anyone travelling to Japan to know what types of medication are allowed and what are prohibited, as well as the allowable quantity for personal use.  It is helpful to know beforehand any required procedure to undertake when bringing in medication into Japan. You can visit the Embassy  of the United States Tokyo, Japan site for more details.

Some helpful facts you should know:

  • Students may bring as much as one month’s supply of prescription medication into Japan. They must bring a copy of their doctor’s prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.
  • Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription.
  • Students may bring as much as two months’ supply of non-prescription drugs without completing any paperwork.
  • 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 such as pseudoephedrine.
  • Students who need to take more than a month’s supply of prescription drugs or more than two months’ supply of non-prescription drugs to Japan must obtain a Yakkan Shoumei–an import certificate–prior to traveling to Japan. Present the Yakkan Shoumei certificate with your prescription medicines at Customs upon arrival.
  • Students carrying prescription and non-prescription medications can consult the Japanese Consulate in the U.S. before leaving for Japan to confirm if they are allowed in the country. A full listing of phone numbers and email addresses is available at
  • Application forms for the Yakkan Shoumei differ slightly depending on which airport you are flying into in Japan.

Doctors in Japan can prescribe substitutes for the medicines you need. Several English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan are available to address your medical concerns. For more information on bringing medicines for personal use into Japan and other medical concerns, please visit Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare site.  You can also see a sample of the Yakkan Shoumei form and read some common questions and answers on bringing medicines to Japan such as Yakkan Shoumei requirements and where to submit them.