June 14, 2005
Question from Fort Worth, Texas, USA:
My parents have decided to move to Japan from Texas, due to my dad’s job. My sister and I will be staying in the U.S. When we visit my parents in Japan, will I have problems with customs because of my insulin and insulin pump, plus my other diabetes supplies?
You should have no difficulty entering Japan or re-entering the U.S. carrying the items needed for the treatment of your diabetes. Both the Government of Japan and the U.S. Customs Service permit travellers to carry sufficient medical supplies and medicines for the treatment of personal medical conditions. The key here is sufficient–usually you are limited to a 30 or 90 day supply, depending on the length of stay and the type of medication. In addition, to pass through airport security, you should obtain and carry a note from a treating physician certifying that you are under treatment for diabetes and the types of medical supplies and medications necessary for travel. If you have any further questions or concerns, please visit the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection web site or the U.S. Department of State web site.
Additional comments from Dr. Linda DiMeglio:
You will not have problems as long as you take your labeled boxes (with the prescriber’s name and prescription information) with you. This will demonstrate to the TSA folks that you are carrying these things for medical reasons. This includes the box from your vial of insulin.