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Moving To Japan - Illegal Suitcase Items!

What do you mean 3-methylmorphine (AKA - Codeine) and Vicks VapoRub Inhalers are illegal in Japan?

I'm in the process of selling everything I own and thinking about what I need to bring with me to Japan when I first arrive.

Some of the things I've discovered have left me a bit baffled - and I thought I'd let you all know my research findings!

So you ask… what can you bring to Japan and what will get you in a bucket load of trouble if customs find it in you luggage?

Look no further…

Things you're going to need to think about are:

1. If you have any over the counter medicines you are only allowed to bring in a 2-month supply! So if you have any special brands that you are particularly attached to… you're going to have to get friends and family to airmail them to you. Again, customs only allows 2-months worth in any one package.

2. Some over the counter medicines you may have from your own country are in fact illegal in Japan. In Japan, any medicines that contain stimulants (i.e. medicines containing pseudoephedrine such as Actifed, Sudafed, and some Vicks products) are illegal.

3. Codeine is also illegal! So if we combine points 2 and 3 together I don't think it would a daft idea to check the contents of any cold, allergy, sinus and pain medications you may have before you fly to Japa

4. Medications and products for external use (i.e. ointments, eye drops, deodorants/anti-perspirants, sanitary products, dental products such as fluoride toothpaste and dental floss etc.) are restricted to 24 pieces per product. This is a particularly important point as your 'home brand' deodorant is a MUST BRING on any trip to Japan - which you can read more about in my article "What to take to Japan".

5. Be warned! If you have any prescription medications you are only allowed to bring in 1 month's supply. Furthermore it needs to be unopened and in its original packaging. You will also need to bring a copy of the prescription and a letter from your doctor stating the purpose of the drugs. If you bring more, the medicine may be seized and you could be charged with intent to sell illegal substances. Once your supply has run out, take the prescription to a doctor in Japan and get a new prescription for an equivalent medicine sold in Japan. Comparable medication is usually available - but I would definitely get your doctor to check this out before you fly. Bring extra copies of your prescriptions along with the medication's generic names. Even though foreign prescriptions cannot be filled, you will need to show them to a Japanese doctor, so that they can help you find a comparable medication

6. Some prescription medications, which are legal in the UK, may be illegal for import to Japan. In this case, 'importing' means to receive the medication while in Japan. Therefore, you can bring your own one-month supply with you, but cannot have more sent over later; if it is found, it will be confiscated and destroyed. It would be a grand idea to check with Japanese customs beforehand to find out if your medication is legal for import.

7. Vitamins - You are only allowed to bring in a 4 months supply. One thing to note is that Japanese brands tend to be expensive, and often only basic vitamins/multivitamins are available. If there is a brand or particular vitamin/mineral supplement that you take, you should bring a four-month supply with you, and then have another four-month supply sent when required.

8. Medical devices, that are needed for a particular condition and are for home use only, are also limited to 1 set only (i.e. electric massagers). I'm not sure if that mean, for those ladies out there, that you can only bring your absolute, number one favorite dildo with you… you'll just have to ask Japanese customs yourself

9. Cosmetics - Again like with deodorants etc. you are only allowed 24 pieces per product. One thing to note (which again is also in my article, ""What to take to Japan") Japanese cosmetics tend to be expensive and often suited to Asian skin and hair. If you have a particular brand or product to which you are attached, you may wish to bring a small amount to tide you over until you find a suitable replacement

10. Finally if you need to bring any medication in excess of the amounts we've talked about you'll need to apply directly to the 'Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare'. Before bringing extra quantities of medications, you must first receive permission from the 'Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare' in the form of a yakkan shomei (約款証明) certificate.

11. Contraceptives - The birth control pill is available in Japan. However, a prescription is needed, so make a note of medicine import procedures above (i.e. 1 months supply!!!!).

12. Contact lenses - Japanese customs only allow two months worth of disposable lenses to come into the country. You can get more sent to you but you are only allowed to receive 2 months supply at any one time. However, contact lens solutions, gas permeable lenses and disposable lenses are available everywhere in Japan… they're just a little more expensive than you are probably used to.

And finally I should also mention the rules I found at Jas Merah about sending medications to Japan:

1. The same rules I've mentioned above also apply to medications that are sent to you in Japan. You may have medications sent, providing it is within the limited amount (and a prescription is included with prescription medications). If you want to import more than the customs limit, you MUST apply for a certificate, providing all the necessary documents, as well as an invoice/receipt, plus an Air Way Bill or notice from Japanese customs. If the certificate is granted, it should be sent with the medication to Japan

2. Again, some medications you may have are prohibited from import, and will be destroyed by customs. Likewise, if you import more than the allowed amount, the remaining amount will be confiscated and destroyed.

If you have managed to read the above, absorbed it and not fallen asleep you are ready to rock and roll!!!

And at the end of the day… if you happen to accidentally bring in more than you are allowed I don't think they'll lock you up and throw away the key. Worst-case scenario is that they'll just confiscate it.

Saying that, I'm one of those annoying people who would prefer to be safe rather than sorry!

Happy Japanese Customs Everybody!!!

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