Medicines to avoid bringing with you

  • Japan has extremely strict laws on drug control and very harsh punishments for offenders. From my own experiences I thought it would be useful to list off what drugs you may and may not take in to Japan.

    Any medication containing pseudoephedrine
    This is in most allergy medications and in the UK at least, it's sold freely in pharmacies.
    Traditional remedies are available in Japan such as Allegra but minus the pseudoephedrine. It's classed as a psychoactive drug in Japan and comes with a hefty jail term if you are found with it on you.

    Another drug which is classed as a narcotic. Although we can buy it in the UK over the counter mixed with acetaminophen, it's illegal in Japan and does come with a long jail term. Even the over the counter boxes with a clear label from the store you bought it from.

    High doses of Diphenhydramine
    The maximum allowed by law in Japan, in tablet form, for diphenhydramine is 10mg per tablet. This is often sold in the UK as a sleeping aid or an allergy medication in 25mg or 50mg tablets. While the drug it's self is not illegal, it's advisable not to turn up at the airport with them. You can buy a medication called "Restamin" / "レスタミン" which contains exactly the same active ingredient in 10mg tablets.

    Tramadol Hydrochloride
    This is another strange case. In Japan this is not an illegal drug but you will not find a doctor who will prescribe it to you. Hospitals have it and pharmacies carry it but it is reserved, usually, for those with serious pain such as cancer patients. Doctors know the name of it and view it as a medication that people take for recreation. Do not turn up at the airport without a signed doctors note with this medication. I had to ask my doctor in the UK and it took 2 weeks to get one but the staff at Kansai airport and the person dealing with drugs there , both had a lengthy discussion about it. Getting re-prescriptions in Japan was hard and I had to tour many different physicians to finally find one who would prescribe.

    So remember to be very careful of your medications that you bring with you. Check the ingredients thoroughly against Japanese law. Even children's medications can be deemed illegal and Japan has notoriously strict drug laws.

    A rule of thumb , not necessarily law, is that any medication that can effect your day to day activity or ability to work or any medication that effects your mental state is probably banned.
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    Thanks so much for sharing that info. I'm not in Japan, but I'm sure that other members who are looking to move to Japan will find this really helpful
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    Hi Azumi123, thanks for the information - the link below may be useful too
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    I can imagine that the inside of a Japanese Chokey is unpleasant.
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    I've just read your information regarding bringing certain medicines to Japan.
    My son is coming next week and, like all my family, has asthma and allergies.
    He usually uses Benadryl, inhalers and sinus tablets.
    We understand he can not bring Sinutab as it has a stimulant in it, a form of ephedrine.
    Now I see you say some allergy medicines can not be brought in. I've read that the UK version of Benadryl is Acrivastine not Diphenhydramine, the early genaration version.
    I'm so worried about all of this and hope someone can reply before next week.
    Thank you.
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    Hi Samali and welcome to the forum . Hope you get an answer to your question soon
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    Quote: Hi Samali and welcome to the forum . Hope you get an answer to your question soon
    thank you
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    I'm now also wondering if it's ok to bring paracetamol
    Thank you
  • Re: Medicines to avoid bringing with you
    Do you need to declare Prescription medication on the entry or customs form
    Thank you