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Japan Narita Customs - Importing prescription medication on prohibited list

Japan Narita Customs - Importing prescription medication on prohibited list

Old Aug 23, 12, 5:39 pm
  #31  
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It does not seem like a very good idea:
Q&A for those who bring medicines into Japan
Q12. Can I bring a stimulant into Japan with me?

A12. Any medicine containing Methamphetamine or Amphetamine is defined as one of “Prohibited Stimulants” and strictly restricted in Japan.

Nobody can bring any medicine containing Methamphetamine or Amphetamine(Adderall and so on)into Japan.

If you are found with any medicine containing Methamphetamine or Amphetamine illegally in Japan, you can be arrested as a criminal on the spot, immediately, without a warrant in principle.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 5:52 pm
  #32  
 
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You realize even if they don't arrest you they could simply force you to buy a plane ticket back immediately and ban you from Japan in the future? The fact that you were almost arrested in LAX with a simple bag search leads me to believe if you do get searched at NRT you will handle it so poorly that you'll be lucky not to go to jail or be deported at the very least.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 6:04 pm
  #33  
 
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Originally Posted by hailstorm View Post
Asking people for advice is one thing, but expecting them to not have an opinion that colors their choice of words somewhat is, IMHO, a bit too much to ask for.
True. It's a drag when people seek validation for "I should be compensated for my own stupid mistake" stories (for example) and try to pre-empt the inevitable backlash with a "Don't tell me that it's my fault" prequel. Feck 'em.

Still ... You do sound like Sister Immaculata.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 6:09 pm
  #34  
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Fair enough. I will reflect on how I can prevent giving off a Holier-than-thou tone that others seem to have picked up.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 7:02 pm
  #35  
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Just so the OP is aware of the official Japan position on this:

http://kouseikyoku.mhlw.go.jp/kantos...nes_070618.pdf

Q12. Can I bring a stimulant into Japan with me?

A12. Any medicine containing Methamphetamine or Amphetamine is defined as one of "Prohibited Stimulants" and strictly restricted in Japan.

Nobody can bring any medicine containing Methamphetamine or Amphetamine (Adderall and so on) into Japan.

If you are found with any medicine containing Methamphetamine or Amphetamine illegally in Japan, you can be arrested as a criminal on the spot, immediately, without a warrant in principle.
The wording of this really makes me doubt that they would stop at simply confiscating the medicine if they found it on the OP's person.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 7:25 pm
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Originally Posted by hailstorm View Post
Just so the OP is aware of the official Japan position on this:

http://kouseikyoku.mhlw.go.jp/kantos...nes_070618.pdf



The wording of this really makes me doubt that they would stop at simply confiscating the medicine if they found it on the OP's person.
Well spotted. There is no chance of import approval then and it's not just customs and the sniffer dogs you would have to worry about. A doctor's letter isn't going to get you out of this. That they specifically mention your drug brand would suggest that they are on the look out for this and have come across it before. Not only are there sniffer dogs, but the customs officials are very good at detecting nervousness in there short questioning - I have seen bags searches going on every time I've passed customs.

You're best off looking into alternatives with your doctor before you leave or discussing with a Japanese-based physician in advance about possible treatment for your time in Japan.

It is worth noting the Yakkan Shoumei procedure for anyone else who comes across this - it's required for more than a month's supply of any medicine or anything injectable.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 7:50 pm
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Interesting thread. I can sympathize with the OP in principle, but this is certainly a risk.

More datapoints on customs.. I've been through about 50 times in the last 3 years, coming from a variety of places intra Asia and America. Once in 50 times they have decided to open my bag and run through it. Customs official kept asking me if I had a gun. Strange. Obviously I didn't. It took about 5 minutes and I was through.

Every other time it's been a couple of questions and a nod and I'm done. What's interesting is that I have brought over plenty of medication (personal, required medical use), some in prescription containers and some in OTC drug bottles. Even in that scenario where they checked my luggage thoroughly, they ignored my toiletry bag and certainly didn't inspect drug labels.

In some sense for the OP this is all about risk tolerance and weighing need versus that risk. I'd certainly suggest OP contact the embassy beforehand though and see what options, if any, are available.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 7:57 pm
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In 30+ entries to Japan in the past few years, I have never had my bags searched as a 20-something white male (fluent in Japanese, which may make a difference). However, I would absolutely not attempt what you are proposing for two reasons:

1. There are random (or not-so-random) searches. I have always seen at least a few people being searched whenever I go through customs. There are routinely roaming drugs dogs. If you are searched, they will have you both on making a false declaration and importing an illegal substance. Drugs offenses are not treated lightly in Japan, and at the very least, you would be detained for some time and deported with a ban on returning to Japan; at worst, you could face many years in prison. Quite simply, you absolutely do not want to get involved with the Japanese justice system, which has a near-perfect conviction rate, harsh penalties, and a dismal human rights record.

2. Because you know you are doing something illegal, you are likely to exhibit signs of nervousness as you go through customs. The officers are trained to pick up on this, and the fact that you are nervous will make you much, much more likely to be searched than anyone reporting their experiences here (where they are not knowingly doing anything illegal). And when this happens, see point number one above.

I would strongly advise against what you are suggesting, and would recommend pursuing an application for a 薬監証明書 (characters above were incorrect, FYI in case you try to go Googling) or looking into potential options for getting a local prescription after arrival as Nogbad suggests.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 8:16 pm
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Scifience View Post
I would strongly advise against what you are suggesting, and would recommend pursuing an application for a 薬監証明書 (characters above were incorrect, FYI in case you try to go Googling)
This could work for narcotics, but the previously mentioned government documentation does not provide for any exceptions to be made in the case of banned stimulants.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 8:39 pm
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Originally Posted by hailstorm View Post
This could work for narcotics, but the previously mentioned government documentation does not provide for any exceptions to be made in the case of banned stimulants.
You are, of course, correct; I was erroneously just repeating the suggestion made previously without confirming. I just read the full details of the 薬監証明書 procedure here, and amphetamines (including Adderall) are indeed banned under all circumstances.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 8:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Scifience View Post
 
I would strongly advise against what you are suggesting, and would recommend pursuing an application for a 薬監証明書 (characters above were incorrect, FYI in case you try to go Googling) or looking into potential options for getting a local prescription after arrival as Nogbad suggests.
Thanks - corrected my spelling.
However, it seems a yakkan shoumei would be refused in the case as guidance specifically mentions the drug in question as being prohibited to import under any circumstances.

I too have never had my bags searched in numerous entries though NRT and HND - but I was once throughly questioned about a sword (I didn't have a sword) for a time (I suspect that this is a tactic to see if reacted in a guilty manner). There are random searches, but if you're are nervous your chances will increase; that's if you don't alert the dogs. Also, as you will have passed the Japanese border, you won't simply be refused entry, you would be arrested. However, criminal proceedings are unlikely for prescription medicine, I think someone with short-term resident status in your situation would probably be transferred to a detention centre for a few days and then deported and banned from Japan, unless you can convince then that you didn't know and it was a mistake.
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Old Aug 23, 12, 11:56 pm
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Interesting subject, this means I have been smuggling prescriptions for years and I was unaware.

As mentioned in a previous thread, sinus medication in Japan sucks. My wife suffers terribly from allergies during allergy season and she has found that Actifed, clortriplon, Sudafed works well however I just discovered that all those meds are prohibited.

It even states that codeine is prohibited. Which means my tylenol 3's are considered illegal.

We have been searched only once in our many travels into and out of Japan and they didn't bother with our medicines. I am SURE we had some Tyenol 3's and some sort of allergy medication with us.
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Old Aug 24, 12, 12:44 am
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Originally Posted by Taiwaned View Post
It even states that codeine is prohibited. Which means my tylenol 3's are considered illegal.
Oddly it seems codeine phosphate only becomes a narcotic in Japan at more than 1%, so if your tylenol 3 tablets weight more than 3g each, you'd technically be fine unless you have more than 1 month's supply (however much that means and then you could get an import form). It's all pretty silly really and I'd doubt customs are going to start weighing tablets or care about small amounts of personal use medicines. I'm sure most people wouldn't think twice about bringing their medication with them.

But as for letting amphetamines in, no chance.
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Old Aug 24, 12, 11:28 am
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Different country different laws.

If cocaine is found to cure [insert disease name] and becomes legal in country X, but it still is illegal in country Y, and if someone with [insert disease name] tries to bring cocaine into country Y, should country Y let that person in with his cocaine or should that person be escorted back out?

Same thing. Use common sense, man.


If travel is a must, ask your doctor to prescribe something else for the time being. An alternative would to have your doctor fill out a form that says that you are diagnosed with ADHD and have a doctor in Japan provide you with a comparable prescription that is legal in Japan. Check with your insurance if it covers prescription medication abroad. Also, most travel insurance provides coverage of up to a 30 day supply of pre-existing medication abroad.

Last edited by kebosabi; Aug 24, 12 at 4:29 pm
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Old Aug 24, 12, 11:41 am
  #45  
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/Mod hat off: OP, you have been given some good advice, particularly about having your physician find an alternative prescription you can import legally to (or get filled in) Japan. Japanese police and customs have little flexibility and the percentage of people charged with crimes found guilty is, shall we say, amazingly high.

The FT TOS also make a good recommendation - and it should certainly be extended to medical and regulatory / law enforcement / customs information.

Last edited by JDiver; Aug 24, 12 at 11:47 am
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