Bringing Over-the-Counter Medicine and Prescriptions into Japan

Decisions on which medications or prescription drugs can be brought into Japan are made solely by the Japanese Government and subject to control under Japan’s Pharmaceutical Affairs Law.  Many common medications and over-the-counter drugs in the United States are illegal in Japan.  It does not matter if you have a valid U.S. prescription for a medicine/drug which is illegal in Japan:  if you bring it with you, you risk arrest and detention by the Japanese authorities.  The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan do not maintain a comprehensive list of prohibited medications or ingredients. Comprehensive information is available only from the Japanese government and is subject to change without notice.  All travelers are encouraged to check before traveling to Japan at  Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) website, including reviewing FAQ, or to email yakkan@mhlw.go.jp.

Travelers who need to bring more than the MLHW’s approved quantity of medication or medical devices should obtain a “Yakkan Shoumei” (importation certificate) prior to travelling, and present it with the prescription to a customs officer upon arrival in Japan.  Certificate approval by the Japanese government may take several weeks to process and should be received before bringing the medication or medical devices to Japan.

All travelers entering Japan with a prescription medication, including medication that is not restricted in Japan, should consider bringing a copy of their doctor’s prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.

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 and email yakkan@mhlw.go.jp.

When you make your email inquiry to yakkan@mhlw.go.jp, please include the following information:

  1. The drug’s active ingredients
  2. The name of the medicine
  3. The dosage and quantity
  4. Your e-mail address