Pharmacy Council NZ: Qualifying as a Pharmacist in New Zealand from Overseas

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Nitesh Viramgama


The Pharmacy Council of New Zealand is the regulatory body responsible for national certification of the pharmacy profession in New Zealand, similar to the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI).

The Pharmacy Council is a Responsible Authority created by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCA Act) 2003 and protects the public by ensuring that pharmacists are competent and fit to practise. They set the standards required for pharmacist training and authorise the registration of pharmacists so Pharmacists can practice. The Pharmacy Council of New Zealand can consider their applications for their annual practicing certificates.

New Zealand offers a wealth of career opportunities for overseas pharmacists looking to become registered pharmacists within its shores. The pathway to becoming an NZ registered pharmacist is clearly defined by the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, catering specifically to those with overseas pharmacy qualifications. By navigating the registration process set forth by the NZ Pharmacy Council, overseas pharmacists can leverage their qualifications and experience to embark on a rewarding career in New Zealand’s healthcare sector. This process ensures that overseas pharmacists meet the high standards required to practice in New Zealand, opening the door to diverse roles in community pharmacies, hospitals, and research institutions across the country. For overseas pharmacists, achieving registration with the NZ Pharmacy Council is the first step towards a thriving career as a pharmacist in New Zealand, contributing significantly to the health and well-being of the community.

Key Takeaways

  • English Requirement: Secure IELTS ≥ 7 or OET ≥ B for NZ registration.
  • KAPS Availability: Conducted thrice yearly in March, June, and November.
  • NZPL Enrollment: No need for KAPS pass to begin NZPL Course.

Step-by-step Process to become Pharmacist in new zealand

Step Number Description
01 Meet the English Requirement
02 Prepare All Other Required Documents
03 Submit the Checklist and Receive Initial Consideration Application Form
04 Receive Approval for Initial Consideration Application
05 Set and Pass the KAPS Examination
06 Enroll in the New Zealand Pharmacy Legislation (NZPL) Course
07 Apply for Registration in the Intern Pharmacist Scope of Practice
08 Participate in the EVOLVE Internship Programme
09 Apply for Registration in the Pharmacist Scope of Practice

English Language Requirement for Overseas Pharmacists

Achieving English proficiency is critical, requiring a minimum IELTS score of 7 in all modules or an OET grade of B in all four modules. This ensures effective communication within healthcare settings.

Evaluate Your Readiness for NZ Pharmacist License


Our non-REQR checklist is tailored to help you assess readiness for the non-REQR pathway application. Complete this checklist to determine your preparedness and submit it for the Initial Consideration for Registration form if ready. Otherwise, use it as a preparation guide.

Non-REQR Pharmacist Checklist

Here is the checklist for becoming the Pharmacist in New Zealand,

Requirement Category Details
Proof of Identification
  • Two certified passport photos.
  • Certified colour copy of passport’s details page.
  • Change of name documentation (if applicable).

Note: Obtain certified English translations for non-English documents.

English Language Exam (Valid for 2 years) Academic IELTS: Minimum 7.0 in each band at the same sitting.
OET: Minimum B score in each band, achievable across sittings.
Ensure results are in the Test Verification Portal before application.
Current Curriculum Vitae Include personal details, qualifications, work history, achievements, etc.
Self-Assessment Complete a self-assessment of qualifications and experience upon application receipt.
Pharmacy Qualification

 (Post-1 January 2006)

Academic record (Overseas Pharmacy degree transcript).
Confirmation of pharmacy degree completion.
Arrange direct submission from your University to the Pharmacy Council.
Registration Status Confirmation of pharmacist registration or licensing.
Certificate of Good Standing from all registered authorities.
Documents must be sent directly to the Pharmacy Council.

Initial application for registration Process for licensing Exam :

Submission and Approval

  • Submit the checklist to receive the Initial Consideration application form.
  • Return the completed form for evaluation.
  • Upon approval, you’re eligible to enroll in the KAPS Exam and NZPL Course.

Assessment and Notification

  • The Pharmacy Council reviews applications and provides feedback via email within eight weeks.
  • There’s no need for follow-ups; you’ll be informed if additional details are needed.

Registration Progression

  • Approval signifies you’re on the path to registration, permitting supervised work.

To retain “actively seeking registration” status, pass both KAPS and NZPL exams within two years.

Enroll for KAPS Examination for NZ


The KAPS (Knowledge Assessment of Pharmaceutical Sciences) exam is pivotal for pharmacy professionals, offered three times a year with a maximum of two attempts annually. It assesses the pharmaceutical sciences understanding essential for practice.

The KAPS exam is designed to test a wide range of pharmaceutical knowledge, including but not limited to:

– Pharmaceutical chemistry
– Pharmacology
– Pharmaceutics
– Therapeutics

The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and is divided into two parts. Pharmacists are required to score a minimum percentage in each content area to pass. This assessment ensures that overseas pharmacists have the necessary knowledge to practice safely and effectively in New Zealand.

Upon passing the KAPS exam, candidates can then proceed with the subsequent steps of the registration process, which typically includes an internship and possibly the completion of additional qualifications or an adaptation program, before they can be officially registered and practice as pharmacists in New Zealand.

Step-by-Step Registration

Upon securing the approval letter, the subsequent phase involves registering for the Knowledge Assessment of Pharmaceutical Sciences (KAPS) examination. This process is initiated through an online application, marking a pivotal step towards meeting the prerequisites for pharmacy practice in New Zealand.

Key Enrollment Information

KAPS Examination Fee

  • Cost: The registration fee for the KAPS exam is set at AU$2230, encompassing the costs related to the examination’s administration and processing.

Scheduling Options

    • Exam Dates: The KAPS examination is offered three times annually, typically in March, July, and November. This scheduling provides ample flexibility for candidates to select a date that aligns with their preparation and personal commitments.

Examination Centers in India:

For Indian candidates, the availability of examination centers in major cities such as Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi, Gurgaon, Pune, and Noida ensures convenience in selecting a proximal testing location. The widespread distribution of centers across the country minimizes travel burdens, aiding candidates in their examination journey with ease and accessibility.

KAPS Examination Details

Aspect Details
Structure 200 multiple-choice questions divided into two parts, with no negative marking.
Duration A 4-hour exam split into two sessions, including a tutorial and feedback survey.
Style An online, computer-based test focusing on generic drug names and SI Units.
Syllabus – Paper 1 Pharmaceutical Chemistry (30%), Physiology & Pharmacology (70%).
Syllabus – Paper 2 Pharmaceutics (30%), Therapeutics (70%).
Results & Passing Criteria A minimum of 50% in each content area required, with results issued about 2 weeks post-exam.

NZ pharmacy regulations Course (NZPL)

Course Overview

Designed for overseas qualified pharmacists, the NZPL course offers a deep dive into New Zealand’s pharmacy practice’s professional, legal, and ethical aspects over a 12-week online course.

To enrol in the course, overseas trained pharmacists must have passed both Paper 1 and Paper 2 of the Knowledge Assessment of Pharmaceutical Sciences (KAPS) Exam within the allowable timeframe. Ten modules will be delivered online over 12 weeks. The modules will introduce students to why regulations for medicines exist and what protections they afford. They will also provide opportunities to explore the legal, ethical and professional obligations in situations reflecting practice. Each of the modules will draw upon and focus on three overarching themes: medicines, pharmacists and patient.

Each module requires the successful completion of some activities, including discussion threads, self assessable activities and the completion of a quiz. You are required to complete all components of the course including the module activities to pass the course.

Candidates will sit a final assessment (100%) in week 12 of the program.

Enrollment Information

  • Availability: Once a year, aligning international qualifications with New Zealand standards.

Course Details

  • Duration: August 31st to November 23rd.
  • Cost: $2400.00 incl. GST.
  • Format: Online Course.
  • NZPL Course Details

Learning Goals

Graduates will gain an in-depth understanding of NZ pharmacy practice regulations, ethical principles, and the legal framework, preparing them for professional responsibilities within New Zealand’s pharmacy environment.

NZ Pharmacy Intern:

Role and Importance

As an intern pharmacist, you play a vital role in the healthcare system, operating under the direct supervision of a registered pharmacist. Your responsibilities include managing medications, enhancing patient-centered therapy, and contributing to health improvement and disease prevention.

Eligibility Criteria

Approval and Examination

  • Initial Consideration Application: Approval from the Pharmacy Council NZ is required.
  • Examination and Course Completion: Passing both KAPS papers and the NZ Legislation course within 2 years prior to application is mandatory.

NZ Pharmacy Intern Program (EVOLVE)

What is Evolve ?

EVOLVE is the New Zealand Intern Training programme for New Zealand and Australian BPharm graduates on their journey to becoming qualified pharmacists.

Program Description

The EVOLVE programme provides practical training and support for interns over the course of the intern year. The programme is run by a dedicated team of pharmacists and support staff who encourage and advocate for both interns and preceptors during the course of the program.

The programme consists of a variety of assignments, workshops, portfolios and appraisals throughout the course of the year. These are complemented by the intern working full-time under the supervision of an experienced and qualified pharmacist. This helps the intern to develop competence in pharmacy-specific skills as well as in other key areas that are central to the role of qualified pharmacists.

The EVOLVE program helps to ensure that pharmacists entering our profession maintain the highest level of competency and professionalism. The goal of the program is for interns to become autonomous pharmacists who are able to think independently, have strong problem-solving skills, great clinical knowledge and are there to work with and support the public and other health professionals.

The program runs from the 1st of February until the 7th of November each calendar year.

The EVOLVE program is accredited by the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand (PCNZ).

Key Information

Aspect Details
Enrolment Period Opens in November, closes on January 20th.
Start Date Program begins on February 1st, recommended start of supervised practice by January 10th.
Work Hour Requirements A minimum of 35 hours per week at an approved site (NZ Community or Hospital Pharmacy).
Supervised Practice Duration 1450 hours needed (January 10th to November 7th).
Fees for 2024 $5600 for NZ residents,

$8950 for non-NZ residents, subject to yearly review.

Annual Practising Certificate (APC) An APC from the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand is required for working as an intern.
Program Duration Runs annually from February 1st to November 7th.



Achieving full pharmacist status follows the acceptance of your registration application, marking your official entry into the profession in Aotearoa New Zealand. This status is accompanied by a practising certificate, authorizing you to practice pharmacy nationwide and contribute to community health and wellness.

Key Milestones

Registration Acceptance

  • Marks your official recognition and registration in New Zealand as a pharmacist by the relevant regulatory body in New Zealand.

Practicing Certificate Issuance

  • An essential credential allowing you to legally practise pharmacy throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Total Cost for overseas pharmacists to get Pharmacist Licence in New Zealand

Details Cost (in NZD)
Application for Initial Consideration $740.00
KAPS exam $2,230.00
NZPL course $2,400.00
Evolve Intern program fees $8,950.00
Registration as an Intern Pharmacist $737.00*
Total $15,057.00*


Embarking on the journey to become a registered pharmacist in New Zealand is a testament to an overseas pharmacist’s commitment to professional excellence and a desire to contribute to the health and well-being of the community. The pathway, though rigorous, is clearly delineated, ensuring that every step — from the English language proficiency requirement to the critical KAPS examination and the comprehensive NZPL course — is designed to prepare pharmacists not only to meet the standards of the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand but also to thrive in the country’s dynamic healthcare environment.

As an internationally trained pharmacist, navigating through the checklist, engaging in the EVOLVE intern program, and finally achieving the coveted scope of practice, you stand at the threshold of a promising career landscape. New Zealand offers a healthcare sector that values expertise, fosters continuous learning, and encourages the provision of exceptional care.

This blog has aimed to illuminate the pathway and provide a beacon for those seeking to practice and register as a pharmacist in New Zealand. The opportunities that await are as diverse as they are rewarding, ranging from community involvement to groundbreaking research and clinical excellence. The salary prospects reflect the importance and value of pharmacists in the healthcare system, and the professional journey in New Zealand promises both personal and professional fulfillment.

In closing, the steps to becoming a registered pharmacist in New Zealand may be many, but each one is a stride towards a future where your skills, knowledge, and dedication can make a profound impact. The Pharmacy Council of New Zealand stands as a gatekeeper to ensure the highest standards, and for those who meet these standards, the rewards are manifold. Here’s to a future where your pharmaceutical career is as rich and as varied as the landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand itself.


  • Is the KAPS exam valid in New Zealand?
    • Yes, the KAPS  exam is recognized in New Zealand for pharmacists seeking registration to practice in the country.
  • Can Indian pharmacists work in New Zealand?
    • Yes, Indian pharmacists can work in New Zealand, but they need to meet certain requirements set by the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, including passing the KAPS exam.
  • Which exam is required for pharmacist registration in New Zealand?
    • The exam required for pharmacist registration in New Zealand is the KAPS  exam. This exam assesses the prescribing skills of pharmacists and is a prerequisite for registration in New Zealand.
  • What is the duration of the internship required for pharmacist registration in New Zealand?
    • The duration of the internship will be 1450 Hours.
  • How many attempts are allowed for the KAPS exam?
    • There are no specific limits on the number of attempts for the KAPS exam. However, candidates must meet the eligibility criteria set by the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand for each attempt.


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Author Nitesh Viramgama

I am a dynamic Clinical Pharmacist, Researcher, Career Coach, Visa Guidance Expert, Mentor, Entrepreneur, and a firm believer in the '7-Year Rule' philosophy. My educational journey at Curtin University of Technology, Australia, equipped me with expertise in clinical pharmacy and research, leading to a successful career as a registered pharmacist.

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