Taking Medicines to Japan
When it comes to taking prescribed drugs or medical equipment abroad, all countries have specific rules by which visitors must abide and Japan is no exception.
Pharmacies in Japan carry very few recognisable foreign brands. Local substitutes of common medication such as ibuprofen and cough syrups are available, though the dosages may be less than what you're used to.
Some over the counter drugs are allowed, but you cannot take more than one month’s supply with you. The Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare of Japan specifies that the drugs you take with you must be only for your personal use and it is recommended to carry a copy of your doctor’s prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.
If you do need to take more than one month’s supply or are carrying syringes (pumps) or any type of medical machinery including a CPAP machine, then you will need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei (a medicine import certificate). It’s important that this certificate is acquired before leaving for Japan as you will need to present this stamped document at customs upon arrival.
Several common UK over the counter and prescription medicines are banned in Japan, specifically medicines containing stimulants or codeine. Medication containing pseudoephedrine, a decongestant used in popular brands Sudafed and Vicks, is also banned.
Narcotics are controlled substances; in order to bring them for personal medical use you need to prepare a Yakkan Shoumei. See the Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare's website (www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/health-medical/pharmaceuticals/01.html) for more details.
Medical Services in Japan
Going to a hospital and paying the full medical bill will be very expensive in Japan.
To give you an indicative cost of medical care whilst in Japan:
- First medical examination: 3,000 yen
- Blood test: 6,000 yen
- X-ray: from 2,000 yen (varies by body part and number of images)
- Abdominal CT: 15,000 yen
- Treatment, surgery: 5,500 yen (cut finger), 20,000 yen (fractured foot) – involvement in a road traffic accident could cost you hundreds of thousands of Yen
For travel insurance information, please visit this page.