Bringing medicines into New Zealand

Information on bringing medicines, including controlled drugs, into New Zealand, and commercial importing and exporting

Importing medicines

Detailed information about importing medicines into New Zealand is available on the Ministry of Health’s Medsafe website:

Importing controlled drugs

Controlled drugs include medicines available on prescription from a health professional.

Update to requirements for controlled drugs (7 December 2016)

Cannabis-based products for medical use supplied in the United States of America cannot be carried with you or in your belongings when entering New Zealand.

Entering New Zealand with controlled drugs on you or in your luggage

If you arrive in New Zealand carrying controlled drugs on you or in your luggage, you may import them provided that you:

  • declare the controlled drugs on your passenger arrival card to present to New Zealand Customs Service
  • demonstrate to NZ Customs that the drug:
    • is required for treating a medical condition for you or for someone under your care and control who is travelling with you, and
    • has been lawfully supplied to you in the country of origin
    • is no more than one month’s supply.

To demonstrate that the controlled drug has been lawfully supplied for the treatment of you or someone under your care you should:

  • carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the controlled drug(s) and the name and strength of these drugs
  • carry your medicines including controlled drugs in the original labelled containers.
Cannabis-based products for medical use supplied in the United States

Cannabis-based products supplied in the United States of America cannot be carried with you when entering or leaving New Zealand.

A number of US states permit the medical use of cannabis-based products. However, under Federal law cannabis-based products for medical use are not considered lawfully supplied, unless the product has US Food and Drug Administration approval.

To date, no drug product containing or derived from botanical cannabis (the cannabis plant) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Commercial imports and exports of controlled drugs

Licences are required to import and export controlled drugs, unless you are carrying them with you or in your belongings when entering or leaving New Zealand and you meet the requirements listed in the section above - Entering New Zealand with controlled drugs on you or in your luggage.

Medicines Control is responsible for issuing import and export licences for commercial consignments of controlled drugs pursuant to section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and regulations 3 and 7 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977.

For further information please contact the Advisor (Controlled Drugs), Medicines Control on 04 816 2018 or by email to: medicinescontrol@moh.govt.nz

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