- Health in Japan
- Life in Japan
Importing Medication To Japan
What are “pharmaceuticals” and what are the laws in Japan?
“Pharmaceuticals, quasi-drugs, cosmetics, medical devices…because they are linked to human life, their safety and efficacy must be tested thoroughly, and only those that gain acceptance may be distributed in the country, according to the restrictions outlined in the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Law.”
Tourists vs Residents
1. Non-prescription drugs: Up to 2 months’ supply (most over-the-counter medicines)
2. Prescription Drugs: Up to 1 month’s supply (most prescription medicines)
3. Drugs for External Use: Up to 24 pieces (things like creams, compresses, balms)
What is a “month’s supply?”
The Yakkan Shoumei is an inspection certificate approval issued by MHLW under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law. The purpose is advanced permission for importing quantities of medication more than the amount allowed above. The guide to Yakkan Shoumei and the application form is in the PDF file here.
How to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei
Important points for the Yakkan Shoumei
Declare. At the airport, the special procedures needed besides the normal customs procedures are showing your Yakkan Shoumei at the pharmaceutical affairs desk in the arrival area.
Certain medications that might be legal in other countries are not allowed in Japan. Even with a legal prescription from a doctor overseas.
Such prohibited medications are:
- stimulants such as methamphetamine, cocaine
- narcotics such as heroin, fentanyl
- other drugs as prohibited by law and international convention
Persons who need to import controlled drugs, for example prescribed narcotics for the treatment of pain due to a medical condition, must get permission from the Narcotics Control Department, MHLW. The application form for the permission is here. This is a separate permission from the Yakkan Shoumei.
Importing certain types of psychotropic medicines requires a separate permission if the total amount of the medicine imported exceeds the amount listed on this list.
For most people coming to live and work in Japan, it’s enough to get a Yakkan Shoumei if needed and bring their medications. Make sure that you follow these simple steps and remain in compliance with regulations when coming to Japan. In the meantime, have a look at our Jobs Page for new positions that might be a great choice for you.