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a VirtualTourist member from Fairbanks asked on Dec 14, 2016


personal meds; doctor's letter

I am traveling to Japan this spring, taking less than 30 days supply of personal medications. One website says that Japan requires a letter from a doctor, listing the meds and their purpose. Is there a form for this list? Anyone have any experience with this issue?

7 Answers

answered on 12/14/16 by
a VT member from Tokyo-to

No particular format. A letter from your doctor stating you are on the following medications and perhaps the reason (which does not need to be too specific).

It is useful to have a letter like that for countries other than Japan too. Most of the meds are likely to be simple prescription ones, and would not need to be declared anyway. Read the declaration for carefully.

As an example my wife has a chronic arthritis and is a travelling pharmacy (lots of stuff), and on the occasion we attempted to explain (because we thought we should - years ago), the customs officer wished we hadn't. Since then if asked, she has the documentation, but otherwise not an issue.

answered on 12/14/16 by
a VT member from Huddersfield

Good advice above but you should also check with the country you are going to visit. I am sure they will have a website telling you what can and can't be brought in. Some countries will not allow certain medication even if you have a doctors letter.

answered on 12/14/16 by
a VT member from Tokyo-to

Yes, that is particular true because wife traveled with a lot of powerful pain medications. What is legal in one country can be an offence in another. (The usual example is that codine is illegal in Greece.)

answered on 12/14/16 by
a VT member from Province of Ontario

And a simple decongestant, pseudoephedrine is illegal in Japan.

answered on 12/15/16 by
a VT member

Interesting point and thank you for raising this as Japan is on our want to do list. My husband is an insulin diabetic - he always carries the reverse of his UK prescription, which bears the name and address of the doctor but no signature. Presumably this would be acceptable to the authorities - or would he require an official doctors letter?

answered on 12/17/16 by
a VT member from Province of Ontario

I've been to Japan a couple of times and the question of medications never came up while clearing customs & immigration. I did have presciption medications with me, bearing my name, my doctor's name as well as what they were and how I was to use them. I suspect it is a case of laws being on the books, but unless there is an issue, enforcement does not occur.

answered on 12/17/16 by
a VT member from Tokyo-to

The declaration refers to some specific types of meds, most of which wouldn't apply. Sometimes there might be an issue with perceived volume, especially if you are on a lot of medications. Most people only have a couple, not 20 different types and enough to fill a back-pack.

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