Bringing legally prescribed controlled substances through customs in Asia?
August 12, 2009 6:01 AM Subscribe
Advice on bringing a small quantity of legally prescribed Ritalin (methylphenidate) and other prescriptions for personal use into Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, and the Philippines?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
I'm traveling to a number of Asian countries in the next three weeks, and I would like to bring my prescriptions with me. The drugs are 30x20mg Ritalin (methylphenidate), 6x200mg Provigil (modafinil), and 30x10mg Ambien (zolpidem). These are legally prescribed by a U.S. doctor, and I will carry the pills in the original, labeled bottle and will have an official-looking letter from the doctor.
But Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, according to their customs Web sites, either ban these drugs outright or require preapproval through a bureaucratic process. I wasn't able to find info on the other countries, but it's those three places that I'm most concerned about anyway (Japan and Singapore especially).
In those countries, since they require preapproval, if I indicate on my customs forms that I have controlled substances, then I'll almost certainly have them confiscated and could face other penalties (right?). If I play stupid and just state I have no items to declare, I'd most likely get through OK. But if they pull me aside and search my bags, then I'd be in big trouble, right? I will have entered and exited different countries ~13 times by the end of this trip, so at least on that I'd look suspicious.
So: what actually happens if Japan/Singapore/Hong Kong customs finds undeclared, un-preapproved but legally prescribed controlled substances in your bags? Is it something I can plead ignorance on and just get a warning, or are there serious consequences? I'm not sure if these laws are actually enforced in the case of small quantities and legal personal use. Should I just not bring the drugs?