Are you constantly on medication? Do you have to bring your medicine along with you to Japan for personal use? Are you a makeup diva who has a lot of cosmetics to be brought into Japan? Whatever reason you have, there are some rules you should keep in mind and follow.
The Japanese health care system is advanced and works better than other countries. However, for foreigners, it could be a nightmare as one needs to have Japanese language skills in order to consult a doctor. There are a few English-speaking doctors in big cities like Tokyo, though.
If you are going to present a foreign prescription to buy your drugs in Japan, it won’t work. Many pharmacies are not aware of foreign prescriptions and you most likely will have to opt for a Japanese medicine of a similar kind, or whatever the pharmacist recommends.
Furthermore, some drugs are not allowed to be consumed in Japan, such as Adderall which is meant for ADHD. Although prescriptions are not necessary to buy medicines in Japanese pharmacies, it might be hard for you to find the right medicine with the right dosage.
You can bring up to a one-month supply of medicine to Japan, only if that medicine is not under prohibition or on the control list. Drugs such as Methamphetamine are prohibited to be brought into the country.
If it’s an external usage drug like an ointment or cosmetic, there is a limit of 24; and if it’s a self-injection kit, the limit is just one. If the quantity exceeds these limits, you should apply for a certificate called “yakkan shoumei (薬監証明),” which will allow you to carry more medicine, but not in excessive amounts such as a bag full of it.
Always remember to carry your prescription along with the certificate.
Usually, if you are bringing medicine or any type of quasi-drug, cosmetics, or medical device into the country, you need a yakkan shoumei. The yakkan shoumei is an import certificate for medicine which will allow you to carry any kind of non-prohibited medicine without any hassle through the customs.
You need to apply for this certificate before your travel and present it to the customs after landing in Japan. You should plan to acquire a yakkan shoumei well in advance before entering Japan as the entire procedure could take at least a week or two to finish, or even longer in case more documentation is required.
You can apply for it by sending your documents to the health inspector assigned to your place of arrival. For instance, if you are landing in Narita (成田) or Haneda (羽田), you should contact the Kanto-Shin’etsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare (関東信越厚生局) via post or email. Their contact information is on the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website.
If you are bringing narcotics or psychotropics, the procedure is the same – you need to contact the Regional Bureau of Health and Safety of your place of arrival in Japan to get the permission.
You need the following documents in order to apply for the yakkan shoumei:
- Details of the drug, such as its manufacturing contents
- Prescription indicating the quantity of medicine signed by a licensed doctor with his/her contact details
- Application form (which you can find here)
- Your flight details
You do not need the original copy of the certificate to pass through customs; a photocopy or a printout is enough. However, the copies should be clear and the details should match the medicine you are carrying.
For people who bring contact lenses in huge quantities (more than two months of supply) without prescription, do carry a yakkan shoumei, too, to avoid any problem at the customs.
This is how you bring medication into Japan without any problem whatsoever. Do not simply rely on your friends’ or relatives’ suggestions and apply for a yakkan shoumei if you need excessive care or medication.