New Zealand Border Customs – Bringing medication into New Zealand.

sniffer dog at NZ airports
New Zealand Customs – Bringing your medication into Middle Earth.

In a previous post we discussed the reasons behind the extreme measures New Zealand Customs and Biosecurity New Zealand take to stop you Bringing Food into New Zealand and the possible consequences for both you and the country. Today we are looking at your personal medication and how to bring it through New Zealand Customs with the least amount of hassle.

Personal Medication

If you are bringing any form of medication into New Zealand, make sure it is in its original packaging and that you have a copy of the prescription. If the medication contains narcotics like diuretics, depressants, stimulants, heart drugs, tranquillisers, and sleeping pills - then you must have a doctor’s certificate stating the medication is necessary and being used under doctor’s instructions. This medication must be declared on arrival at New Zealand Customs.

  • Declare the medicine on your Passenger Arrival Card.
  • Have a copy of the medicine’s prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the medicine.
  • Have the medicine in its original pharmacy container, with your name on the label, and strength and dosage details clearly stated.
  • Have no more than three months supply (oral contraceptives, where a six month supply is permitted, are the exception).
Controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act


Found in Common Cold and Flu remedies, Pseudoephedrine has been reclassified from a class C to B2 controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act in New Zealand. Pseudoephedrine is the primary ingredient for a drug commonly known as  ‘P’ but other names include Meth, Speed, Pure, Crystal, Ice, Crystal Meth, Crank and Glass.

Common Brand Names: Sudafed is a trademark for a common brand that contains pseudoephedrine,although Sudafed PE does not contain it. The following are some brand names of medications that have previously contained Pseudoephedrine, though some of them by now may contain phenylephrine instead.

  • Sudafed (Johnson & Johnson [formerly Pfizer]
  • Actifed (Burroughs Wellcome)
  • Contac (GlaxoSmithKline) - contains pseudoephedrine HCL.
  • Claritin-D - contains Loratadine along with pseudoephedrine.
  • Zyrtec-D 12 Hour - contains pseudoephedrine HCL as well as cetirizine.
  • MucinexD - contains pseudoephedrine and  guaifenesin, an expectorant.
  • Eltor (Sanofi Aventis)
  • Allegra D (Sanofi Aventis) - contains fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine.

In short don't bother bringing it into the country as it will be confiscated and you could be fined or if you have more than reasonably required for personal use you could be deported or even jailed.


Medical Cannabis or Marijuana Based Products

Especially for medical use supplied in the United States

Cannabis-based products supplied in the United States of America (or any other country) 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.

Article: Man deported after arriving in NZ with medicinal cannabis

All about bring medical marijuana into NZ

Illicit drugs – offences and penalties - Just so you know

There is a wide range of controlled and illegal drugs, which the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 classifies according to the level of risk of harm they pose to people misusing them:

  • Class A (very high risk): methamphetamine, magic mushrooms, cocaine, heroin, LSD (Acid)
  • Class B (high risk): cannabis oil, hashish, morphine, opium, ecstasy and many amphetamine-type substances
  • Class C (moderate risk): cannabis seed, cannabis plant, codeine.

Visit the New Zealand Legislation website for a full version of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and later amendments (link is external).


In the following list, 'indictment' refers to a conviction dealt with in a Crown Court (with a jury); 'summarily' refers to a conviction in a Magistrates Court.


  • Class A 6 months imprisonment and/or $1,000 fine
  • Class B 3 months imprisonment and/or $500 fine
  • Class C 3 months imprisonment and/or $500 fine 

Supply or manufacture

  • Class A Life imprisonment
  • Class B 14 years imprisonment
  • Class C Indictment – 8 years imprisonment. Summarily – 1 year jail and/or $1,000 fine
Airport Drug Dogs

Top Tips for the Smart Traveler.

  • Keep all medications and vitamins in their original packaging (plastic bottles are now available in most cases).
  • Carry all Medications in your hand luggage – let your airline carrier know in advance if you will be carrying syringes – Just in case your luggage is lost.
  • Have a copy of the medicine’s prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the medicine - keep these separate to the actual drugs, in case you lose your bag in your travels.
  • Declare the medicine on your Passenger Arrival Card - Passenger Arrival Cards are usually given to you to complete by your crew on your way to New Zealand. The cards tell you what we consider are 'risk goods'.

Note: The Passenger Arrival Card is a legal document. If you make a false or incorrect declaration – even by accident – you are breaking the law and you can be fined or put in prison.

  • If you are buying any medication overseas, check the dosage — it may be more or less than the amount you normally take.
  • If you are unable to carry enough medication for your entire trip, make sure you take a letter from your doctor detailing the medication, dosage and what it is for, especially if it is a painkiller or another drug a doctor may be wary of prescribing.

IF YOU ARE NOT SURE: Certain classes of prescription medicines are regarded as illegal substances in some countries and the consequences of carrying them can be dire. If you are not sure please contact the Advisor (Controlled Drugs), Medicines Control on 00 61 4 816 2018 or by email to: [email protected]

For further advice or assistance planning your Hassle-free New Zealand holiday of a lifetime and to receive a free, no obligation, personalised itinerary - just follow the link and answer a few brief questions

More articles to help you plan your trip to New Zealand

Getting to New Zealand
New Zealand Passport and Visa Requirements
Smooth as possible on arrival to New Zealand
Travel Insurance for New Zealand
Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound?
What is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?
Driving in New Zealand
Safety in New Zealand's Great Outdoors
What to Pack for a New Zealand Holiday
New Zealand Accommodation Guide
New Zealand's Need to Know Facts
What do things cost in New Zealand

Last updated on the 28th of January 2019 by Brent


Brent Narbey
Brent Narbey
: 26 Oct 2012 (Last updated: 13 Mar 2022)

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