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Working as a Pharmacist in New Zealand

Working as a Pharmacist in New Zealand

New Zealand is known for its beautiful beaches and wonderful scenery, good weather and excellent work–life balance and today it is one of the countries with one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 infection. No wonder it is an attractive place for many pharmacists who are thinking of working abroad.

Like any move to another country, the transition to New Zealand should be planned with enough time to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Pharmacists must plan in advance so they have enough time to take the registration exams, secure a job, find a place to live and fulfill all the work visa requirements before moving. Therefore, it is important to consider a few things before taking the step. 

CAOP Examination

The CAOP (computer-based assessment of overseas pharmacists) is an exam delivered by the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC). It is a three-hour exam consisting of 105 multiple choice questions and it’s held online three times a year at specific test centres. Candidates can choose the exam center and date of their choice. After the exam, the APC will email candidates the result in around four weeks.
More information can be found on the APC website.  

Registration with the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand (PCNZ)

Pharmacists who pass the CAOP exam have two years to apply for registration as a pharmacist in New Zealand. And if they qualified in Ireland, the UK, Canada and United States, they are eligible to register in New Zealand with the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand (PCNZ) under the Recognised Equivalent Qualification Route (REQR).

Documents required for the REQR application:

  • Professional status certificate/Letter of good standing, from the registration authority of the country where the pharmacist practised over the last 10 years, to be sent directly to the PCNZ;
  • Criminal record certificate from the country where the applicant has resided in;
  • CAOP results from the APC;
  • Names of the supervising pharmacist and the pharmacy, address of the pharmacy where the pharmacist will work and start date;
  • Work history in chronological order, including start and end dates, approx. hours worked per week for each role and brief description of the duties performed;
  • Supporting documentation if the pharmacist discloses a health or conduct matter;
  • Application fee.

Pharmacists from Ireland and the United Kingdom are required to complete a minimum of four weeks of supervised practice under the supervision of a registered pharmacist in New Zealand and must find employment on their own, as the PCNZ does not assist candidates with finding employment.

The PCNZ will issue the candidate with an annual certificate of practice, allowing the pharmacist to practice in New Zealand under supervision. After the supervised practice and the candidate has passed a Law and Ethics interview with an approved assessor, the PCNZ will issue an unconditional annual certificate of practice, renewed annually. 

Immigration requirements

New Zealand is not part of the EU and therefore pharmacists wishing to work in New Zealand will need a work visa. As they are considered highly qualified professionals who have the skills to contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth, they fall within the scope of the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa (depending on the job and salary). You can learn more about the Skilled Migrant Visa here

Life Costs

An important aspect to keep in mind before moving is the cost of living. In New Zealand, the cost of living is generally lower when compared to Ireland or the United Kingdom. Another important aspect to take into account is that in New Zealand the currency is the NSD (New Zealand dollar) and not the € (euro) or the £ (pound sterling).
To get an idea of the cost of living, we advise you to take a look at the Numbeo and Expatistan websites.


If you are an Irish or UK pharmacist and are thinking of working in New Zealand, Clarity can help you make the move! We currently have offices in Auckland (New Zealand), Dublin (Ireland), Belfast (Northern Ireland) and London (United Kingdom). 


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Posted on 18 March 2021
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