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Travelling to Japan with medications

Japan Living Guide

While travelling can be lots of fun it can also have challenges; especially if you have a medical condition.  If you have to regularly take medications, the challenges increase.


If you are planning to visit Japan for under 1 month, you can generally bring a normal supply of your medications with you and declare them at customs.  And while there are exceptions to what you can bring in (such as narcotic drugs - even if you legally require them) they generally don’t even inspect you.  I’ve always told them about my prescription meds for short visits and they just wave me on.

However, what if you are planning to visit more than 30 days and stay up to the full 3 months on a tourist visa?

In this case, you need to get permission from the Japanese Government to bring enough supplies with you.  You’ll require a special import certificate called a Yakkan Shoumei (やっかんしょうめい or 薬監証明) and you must have the certificate with you when you enter Japan and make your declarations.  Your medications must match exactly what is written on the form and once issued, cannot be altered by you.

In my case, I am an Insulin-dependant Diabetic.  I take a few oral medications and a daily injection of insulin.  So, I have to provide the details of about 6 items.

The good news is that Japan is very progressive regarding this type of authorisation.  You can email them to obtain the details about the requirements and get copies of the relevant forms.  Once you have completed the documentation, you can also scan and email the details back to them and they will email you the completed certificate.  You can also follow the normal postal service process if you don’t have regular access to email.

Depending on what airport you use to land in Japan, you should contact that respective office.  For example, I am flying into Kansai International Airport, so I am submitting my documentation to the Osaka office.  For Narita and Haneda arrivals, please use the office in Tokyo.  There are more details at the end of this article.

The forms themselves aren’t complicated but you do need to complete details on each medication.  The forms I was given came with English translations for the information to be completed.  The office I contacted was also kind enough to provide instructions in both Japanese and English in their initial email reply.

I’d recommend getting a formal letter from your doctor that details your medications and their purpose as this will help you complete the form.   You’ll need this anyway even if you are only travelling for a short period of time in case you are spot checked by authorities on any leg of your trip, including your own country.  I intend to include this with my paperwork.

I am in the process of completing my forms now and will post some follow-up comments once everything is finalised.  But, for now, here are some details if you need to start the process for your own trip to Japan....

The relevant website in English and links to forms:

The Kansai International Airport (OSAKA) branch:

Section of Medicinal Inspection and Guidance,
Kinki Regional Bureau,
Ministry of Health and Welfare
Ooe-bldg. 7F 1-1-22 Nouninbashi,Chuo Ward,
Osaka, Osaka. 540-0011

FAX.: +81-6-6942-2472
Telephone: +81-6-6942-4096
Email: [email protected]

Gary Menzel
My daytime job is as a architect in Information Technology systems buy my hobbies cover Music, Theatre and Art. I am a native Australian but spent time in Japan (Osaka) several times and travel there often. Read more »