Bringing Medicine into Japan

Introduction

Japan in particular has strict rules in place for taking medicine into Japan for personal use. 

Medicines are classified into five categories in Japan. Your medicine may be a general, narcotic, psychotropic, stimulant medicine or a medical device. Depending on the classification, name and quantity of the medicine you may be required to apply for permission/certification which you must then show at customs when entering Japan in order to take that medicine into the country. You could be arrested or have your medicine confiscated at the airport in Japan if you bring a stimulant into Japan or you do not have the correct documentation/permission (Yakkan Shoumei or Narcotic Certificate).
 
Further information about bringing medicine into Japan including application forms, medicine classifications and contact information can be found below. Please read the information carefully and make sure you have everything ready before you leave on your trip to Japan. Ideally, you should start preparing for bringing your medicine into Japan a month before your trip. When you arrive in Japan you should declare all of your medicine(s) at customs and provide any documentation/certification if required.

Time to process your application: You can send your applications forms via email or post. However, please note that it can take up to 2 weeks to be processed and returned to you if you choose to send your application via post. If you send your application to Japan via email it will take approximately 1 week or longer to be processed. Contact information HERE.

Groups travelling to Japan: If you are a group travelling to Japan (E.g. Sport Team, Tour Group, Ski Tour Group, Student Exchange, etc…) please send any enquiries to the relevant pharmaceutical inspector in Japan.

Medicine Packaging (including Webster-Paks or Blister Packs): There is no limitation or regulation in the packaging you bring your medicines in, including using Webster-Paks or Blister Packs, under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law. As long as you can explain what medication is what at Customs, there should be no problems. A doctor’s letter or prescription would be a good source of an explanation.
 

1. Information

 

2. Medicine Categories/Classifications

General Medicines

Prescription Medicine < 1 months’ supply, nothing required OR > 1 month’s supply, a Yakkan Shoumei (Medicine Import Certificate)  is required.
 
  • E.g. Contraceptive Pills like Yasmine
  • E.g. Tramal (Tramadol hydrochloride)
  • E.g. Vyvanse (alternative that treats ADHD)
  • E.g. You can take one ventolin inhaler without needing to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei.
  • E.g. You can take up to 1-2 pre-fill syringes without needing to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei.

Non-Prescription Medicine < 2 months’ supply, nothing required OR > 2 months’ supply, a Yakkan Shoumei (Medicine Import Certificate)  is required.
 
  • E.g. Hayfever Tablets (Cetirizine ,fexofenadine)
  • E.g. Panadol (Paracetamol)
  • E.g. Nurofen (Ibuprofen)
  • E.g. Most vitamins
  • E.g. Disposable Contact Lens

Special Case – While generally speaking the two above rules apply to general medicine there are some special cases of general medicines which still require a Yakkan Shomei. That is why it is best to check with the pharmaceutical inspector.
 
  • E.g. Roaccutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret (Isotretinoin)

NOTE: 1 month’s supply is equal to 30 tablets, one Ventolin inhaler or 1-2 syringes

 

Narcotic Medicines

A Narcotic Certificate is required if you wish to bring any of the following medicines into Japan.
 
  • E.g. Codeine, Morphine & Oxycodone
  • E.g. FentanyI
  • E.g. Endone (Oxycodone)
  • E.g. Panadeine Forte (Codeine)
 

Psychotropic Medicines

The Psychotropic table can be found HERE on Pg. 6.

Please note the actual person who will be using the psychotropic medicine must be the one who carries this medicine into Japan.

If you intend to import / export psychotropics equal to or less than the amount indicated in the Table (excluding injection form), you do not need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei.

If you intend to import/export more than the allowed amount of a Psychotropic (refer to table), a Yakkan Shoumei is required. A Yakkan Shoumei is also required if you wish to bring the Psychotropic in any type of injection form.
 
  • E.g. Diazepam (Valium) >1.2g, Yakkan Shoumei is required.
  • E.g. Methylphenidate (Ritalin/Concerta) > 2.16g, Yakkan Shoumei is required.
  • E.g. Temazepam (Temaze) > 900mg, Yakkan Shoumei is required.
 

Stimulant Medicines

DO NOT BRING THESE MEDICINES INTO JAPAN. IF YOU DO YOU WILL BE ARRESTED.

It is illegal to bring any medicine under this category. If you do, you will be arrested.
 
  • E.g. Dexamphetamine (treats ADHD, Narcolepsy etc…)
    • Alternatives: Ritalin, Concerta or Vyvanse. Ritalin and Concerta contain Methylphenidate which means they are classified as Psychotropic medicines. If you intend to bring more than 2.16g, you will need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei. Vyvanse is classified as a general prescription medicine, and you will need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei if you intend to bring more than a month’s supply.
  • E.g. Amphetamine & Methamphetamine
  • E.g. Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride (Cold & Flu Medicine)
 

Medical Devices

Home Medical Device: You are allowed to bring one set of your home medical device without needing to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei. If you wish to bring more than one home medical device per person for example, you will need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei.
 
  • E.g. You can bring 1-2 epi-pens/insulin pens into Japan without needing to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei. If you intend to bring more, you will need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei.

Medical Device used under doctor’s order: You must apply for a Yakkan Shoumei.
 
  • E.g. CPAP Machine
 

3. Application Forms

Application forms for a Yakkan Shoumei (General Import Certificate) or Narcotic Certificate can be found below. You will also need to send a doctor’s letter/prescription and your flight details with the application forms.

The doctor’s letter or prescription that is included with your Yakkan Shoumei or Narcotic application must have been issued within 6 months of you applying for the certificate. For example, if you send a doctor’s letter that was issued 1 year before (June 2015)  and you applied for a Yakkan Shoumei (June 2016), it will be rejected, and you will need to get a newly issued doctor’s letter before your application can be further processed.

If you have a large list of medicines and you need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei or Narcotic Certificate, you may be able to put the list and information in an attachment to the application or the doctor’s letter may be enough, instead of filling out an application form for each medicine or when you run out of space. Please check with the Pharmaceutical Inspector in Japan.
 
1.Yakkan Shoumei Application Forms (PDF / Word / Sample)

The Yakkan Shoumei Application includes (1) Import Report of Medication (2) Explanation of Pharmaceutical Products (3) Explanation of Products – This form only needs to be filled in for medical devices (i.e. CPAP Machine).
 
2.Narcotic Certificate Application Forms (PDF / Word / Sample)

The Narcotic Application includes an import and export form. The estimated quantity of narcotics remaining at the point of departure should be indicated in the export form. For example, if your medicine is a take when needed medicine, please put the full amount that you will import into the export form as well. If you know that you will have two tablets left over when you leave the country, put two in the export form.
 

4. Contact the Pharmaceutical Inspector in Japan

If you have any further medicine enquiries, after reading the above information, please contact the relevant Pharmaceutical Inspector in Japan. The most popular contact information can be found below. Australian travellers usually travel through Narita/Haneda International Airport or Kansai International Airport, although other airports in Japan also have Narcotic Control Departments and Pharmaceutical Inspectors. Further information is provided below. You can also send your Yakkan Shoumei or Narcotic Certificate applications to the below email addresses or postal addresses provided.

Decisions on what medications or medical devices may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government (MHLW), and unfortunately the limited information we have available at the Japanese Embassy in Australia 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, so please contact the relevant Pharmaceutical Inspector below.
 
General Medicine Enquiries or Unknown
Yakkan Shoumei Applications

  Narita or Haneda International Airport
  Email: yakkan@mhlw.go.jp
  Tel: +81-48-740-0800
  Fax: +81-48-601-1336
  Postal Address:
 
  Pharmaceutical Inspector
  Section of Inspection and Guidance,
  Kanto-Shin’etsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare
  Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
  Saitama-Shintoshin Godochosha 1, 7th floor,
  1-1Shintoshin, Chuo-ku, Saitama City,
  Saitama Prefecture, JAPAN 330-9713
 

  Kansai, Chubu or Fukuoka International Airport
  Email: kiyakuji@mhlw.go.jp
  Tel: +81-6-6942-4096
  Fax: +81-6-6942-2472
  Postal Address:
 
  Pharmaceutical Inspector
  Section of Inspection and Guidance,
  Kinki Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare
  Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare,
  Ohue Building,7th floor,
  1-1-22 Nonin Bashi,
  Osaka City, Chuo-ku, Osaka Prefecture, JAPAN 540-0011
 
Stimulant, Narcotic & Psychotropic Enquiries Only
Narcotic Certificate Applications
List of Narcotic Control Departments (Pg. 9)

  Narita or Haneda International Airport
  Email: tokyoncd@mhlw.go.jp
  Tel: +81-3-3512-8691
  Fax: +81-3-3512-8689
  Postal Address:
 
  Narcotics Control Department
  Kanto - Shin'etsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare
  2-1, Kudanminami 1 chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  JAPAN,102-8039
 

  Kansai, Chubu or Fukuoka International Airport
  Email: osakancd@mhlw.go.jp
  Tel: 81-6-6949-6336
  Fax: +81-6-6949-6339
  Postal Address:
 
  Narcotics Control Department,
  Kinki Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare
  1-76, Otemae 4 chome, Chuo-ku, Osaka City,
  JAPAN, 540-0008
 

The pharmaceutical inspector in Japan will find the below information useful if you include it in your email when enquiring about medicine classifications and what is required:
 
  • If your application is urgent (E.g. you are leaving in a couple of days), please put URGENT in your email subject line and mention it in your email. But please note if you sent your application a day or two before you are due to leave, you may not receive the certificate/permission in time (they receive applications from all over the world). You also need to be aware of Japan’s business hours, public holidays and the time difference between Australia and Japan.
  • Medicine Name
  • Active Ingredient
  • Medicine Quantity (E.g. 1 month's supply, 30 tablets or more than 2g)
  • Flight details
    • Travel Dates while in Japan
    • Arrival/Departure Airport
  • Doctors letter, certificate or prescription if you have it

Information provided by the Economic Section at the Embassy of Japan in Australia.
 
Most recent from July 2016