Flying with Medical Cannabis: Guide for New Zealand Travellers

Thinking of flying with your medicine to and from New Zealand? Get familiar with laws, documentation, and proper storage for a safe and smooth trip.

Flying Domestically and to Australia with Medical Cannabis

Flying with your medical cannabis can be a daunting experience for patients unfamiliar with the complexities of doing so. Before you hop on a plane with your prescribed medicine, it is a good idea to get familiar with the laws and guidelines of your departing location, destination and any stops along the way. In this blog post, we will discuss how you can safely fly domestically and to Australia with your medical cannabis from New Zealand. We’ll cover what documentation you need, how to properly store and transport your medication, and potential legal considerations. With the right information and a little bit of caution, travelling with medical cannabis doesn’t have to be a stressful process.

Flying domestically with medical cannabis in New Zealand

In New Zealand, where medical cannabis is legal, you are perfectly within your right to fly with your prescribed medicine. However, you should check with your airline as they may have individual policies with certain rules and restrictions. For example, Air New Zealand allows liquid and dried medicines in checked-in luggage but if you use a medical vaporiser with lithium batteries, you may not be able to bring it.

Flying domestically with your prescription is relatively straightforward. If you take the following steps, it should be a breeze:

1. Bring a copy of your prescription.

2. Store your medicine in its original packaging.

3. Check and adhere to airline policies, particularly if you intend to travel with a medical vaporiser.

What are the rules for flying to New Zealand from overseas with medical cannabis?

The Ministry of Health provides official guidelines for flying into New Zealand with medical cannabis:

  • the product has been prescribed to you by a doctor
  • you have a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the product
  • you declare the product on your passenger arrival card
  • you carry the product in its original labelled container, and
  • you are bringing no more than a 3-month supply of a Cannabidiol product or a 1-month supply of any other medicinal product.

Flying to Australia from New Zealand with medical cannabis

Bringing your medical cannabis to Australia is a little more complex but still possible. All states in Australia have legalised the medicine but the laws for the different states and territories vary slightly. Therefore, it’s important you look at the requirements of the state you are flying to. Generally, you can bring up to 3 months’ supply of your medicine, provided you bring the necessary documentation.

What documentation do you need to bring your medicine to Australia?

Technically, Australia has the same requirements as New Zealand and you should only need your prescription and labelled medicine in its original packaging. Travellers or their carers entering Australia are allowed to bring up to a 3-month supply of therapeutic goods for medical treatment, as long as they are prescribed by a medical practitioner and supplied in accordance with the prescription. Evidence of the 3-month supply may be required.

While this is not technically required, we also recommend you ask your doctor to prepare a supporting letter explaining that you need to bring your medications with you.

Australian customs are very strict. Even though they may allow you to bring in prescribed medicine (provided you meet their requirements), they may not allow you to bring in a medical vaporiser because it is technically not prescribed.

While these are official guidelines, we have heard from patients who were provided incorrect information by customs officers. In some cases, this prevented them from bringing their medicine. While this is unfair to the patient, it’s important to note that passengers have only recently been allowed to travel with legally prescribed medicine and unfortunately, some customs officers may not be very familiar with the new policies.

Different states may also have their own individual policies. The Australian Department of Health and Aged Care recommend contacting the local health department of the state/territory you are travelling to prior to flying to ensure you can meet their requirements. We also recommend taking an extra step to contact customs prior to flying and request their official requirements via email. If you have any trouble at customs you will then have emails to refer to and you can explain you are following their official requirements.

What about flying to other international destinations?

The laws surrounding medical cannabis vary so wildly that we cannot offer a general recommendation other than to request information from the customs or health agencies for the country you are visiting and any stopovers. Many countries with legal medical cannabis will allow you to bring your medicine but some do not.

Flying with medical cannabis can be unnerving, but with the right information and a little bit of caution, it doesn't have to be. Remember, if you plan on flying domestically or to Australia, it's important to familiarize yourself with the laws and guidelines of your departing location, destination and any stops along the way.

If you need an updated prescription or a supporting letter for travel, book a consult to discuss your options with one of our friendly doctors.