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Revised: 15 April 2013

Importing Medicines

Medsafe regulates products that are used for a therapeutic purpose, to ensure the product's safety, quality and effectiveness. This includes: medicines; related products; herbal remedies; medical devices; and controlled drugs used as medicines.

Classification of medicines in New Zealand

Every country has a different classification system for medicines. A medicine may be over-the-counter in one country, but may be classified as a prescription medicine in New Zealand.

Use the following link to work out the classification of your medicine(s): Classification Database

Note: When using the classification of medicine schedule, please be aware that:

If you are unsure of the classification of your medicine, please submit the following form: General Enquiry form

What is personal importation?

When an individual either:

  1. Brings a medicine into New Zealand on their person (for instance passengers visiting New Zealand arriving at the airport),

  2. Arranges for a medicine to be sent to them from an overseas supplier. In most cases the medicine is sent through the post or via an international courier.

In both cases, the goods must be used by that individual or a member of his/her immediate family and must not be sold or supplied to any other person.

The maximum amount of prescription medicines you can import with a reasonable excuse is three months supply, with the exception of oral contraceptives where you are able to import six months supply.

Bringing medicines into New Zealand on your person or in your luggage

If you are arriving into New Zealand and carrying prescription medicines either on your person or in your luggage you must ensure:

All other medicines including herbal medicines, dietary supplements and over-the-counter medicines may be imported without the above documentation. Over the counter medicines can be imported only if they are for individual use or for a member of your immediate family. Please note that anything in your possession that might be considered as a prescription medicine or controlled drug must be declared on your incoming passenger arrival card. If in doubt, declare it.

Having medicines sent from an overseas supplier

If you are having medicines sent to from overseas you will be required to prove you have a "reasonable excuse" for the importation.

We define "reasonable excuse" as either:

Medicines containing controlled drugs cannot be imported in this manner.

Adulterated medicines

Some medicines, particularly some Chinese herbal products, have been tested by Medsafe and found to contain undeclared prescription medicines. It is illegal to import a product adulterated with a prescription medicine, and if these are seized by Medsafe at the border they will be destroyed. The most common products that are adulterated are slimming products which contain Sibutramine, or products to help with sexual dysfunction which contain Sildenafil.
Further information

Contact Us At:
PO Box 7772
Wellesley St

General enquiry form.

To lodge a complaint relating to the import, export, manufacture, advertising and supply of therapeutic products.

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