Japan - Commercial Guide
Prohibited & Restricted Imports

Includes a list of goods that are prohibited from being exported to the country or are otherwise restricted.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Japan strictly prohibits entry of narcotics and related utensils, firearms, firearm parts and ammunition, explosives and gunpowder, precursor materials for chemical weapons, germs which are likely to be used for bio-terrorism, counterfeit goods or imitation coins or currency, obscene materials, or goods that violate intellectual property rights. Other restricted items include but are not limited to certain agricultural and meat products, endangered species and products such as ivory, animal parts and fur where trade is banned by international treaty. For more information on prohibited goods, see the Japanese Customs Website.

In addition, Japan imposes restrictions on the sale or use of certain products including those related to health such as medical products, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products and chemicals. For these products, Japanese Customs reviews and evaluates the product for import suitability before shipment to Japan. Licenses from relevant regulatory bodies may also be required for the importation and sale of those products. The use of certain chemicals and other additives in foods and cosmetics is severely regulated and follows a “positive list” approach.

Private importation is permitted without the said license requirement provided that those products to be imported are for their personal use or consumption and that the import volume is within a permitted scope:

  • No more than one month’s supply of medicines that are toxicants, dangerous or prescription drugs;
  • No more than two month’s supply of medicines that are non-prescription drugs or quasi-drugs; or
  • No more than 24 units (normal size) of similar cosmetic products.

One well-publicized case involved the arrest of an American woman who was sent a small number of pills of Adderall by her mother. Please note that body (hand) soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, hair dye and other toiletries may fall under the category of quasi-drugs or cosmetics, depending on ingredients. Veterinary drugs are subject to import restrictions in accordance with Japan’s Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices, Regenerative and Cellular Therapy Products, Gene Therapy Products, and Cosmetics (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Act, or PMD Act). For more information on prohibited and restricted imports visit the FAQ section on the Japan Customs Website).
Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare has information on policies for importation of health-related items.

Further guidance on medication can be found at the U.S. Embassy’s Website (https://jp.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/doctors/importing-medication/).