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Pharmacists from Canada, Ireland, UK, USA


Applications for Registration from Pharmacists registered in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom or the USA under the Recognised Equivalent Qualification Route (REQR) process


You need to be aware the occupations of Hospital, Industrial and Retail (Community) Pharmacists have been removed from the Long Term Skill Shortage List effective from March 2014. This follows research indicating there is no shortage of pharmacists in New Zealand. We understand pharmacist positions in Auckland in particular can be difficult to secure. Please visit the NZ Immigration website for further information on long term skills shortage and immigration requirements.

The REQR process is open to practising pharmacists who gained their pharmacy degree in one of the above countries OR successfully completed an approved programme from a learning institution in one of the above countries (ie. PEBC in Canada, OSPAP in the UK or NAPLEX in the USA).  Overseas pharmacists who have registration in one of the above countries but did not gain their pharmacy degree or attend an approved programme from a learning institution in one of the above countries are not eligible for registration under the REQR process.  They can, however, apply for registration under the Non-REQR process.

A summary of the REQR and Non-REQR registration processes is available in this flow chart.

Under the REQR process, a practising pharmacist from one of the above countries who is currently registered and in good standing with the registration authority in their own country can apply to sit the Competency Assessment of Overseas Pharmacists (CAOP) exam as the first step in the registration process.  After passing the CAOP exam, successful applicants then undertake a period of supervised practice before registering as a pharmacist in New Zealand.  Applicants from Canada and the USA are also required to complete the Revisit The Workplace Programme (RTWP) offered by the New Zealand College of Pharmacists.

Letters of Good Standing


Pharmacists applying for registration under the REQR process must request a Letter(s) of Good Standing from the registration authority in each country where they have practised over the last 10 years.  These should be sent directly to the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand by the registration authority.  The application to sit the CAOP examination cannot be accepted until the Letter(s) of Good Standing are received by the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand.

Please note that Letters of Good Standing are valid for 6 months from the date issued.  If the Letter of Good Standing, which supported the CAOP exam application, is not valid when an application for registration is lodged following an exam pass, an updated Letter of Good Standing may be required.

CAOP Exam


The CAOP exam is computer based, administered by Pearson VUE under the authorisation of the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC).  The APC arranges exam venues in Australia (state capitals), New Zealand (Auckland) and the UK (London).  Once your exam application has been accepted by the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand it is sent to the APC for processing.  Applicants will be contacted again in due course regarding the exam time, date, venue etc.

The exam dates for 2017 and the deadline for the receipt of exam applications at the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand are given below:

Australian Examination Date Overseas Examination Date NZ Registrations Close
5 February 2017 7 February 2017 12 January 2017
6 August 2017 7 August 2017 29 June 2017
1 October 2017 2 October 2017 24 August 2017

The CAOP Application can be downloaded here.  Please note that faxed or emailed copies and late applications are not accepted.  Exam results are notified in writing to applicants approximately four weeks after the exam date.

You are allowed two attempts to pass the CAOP exam.  Further attempts are only permitted at the discretion of the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand.

Refunds and deferrals policy for CAOP exam

Prior to the closing date of exam entries as advised above, a pharmacist who has submitted an application to sit the CAOP exam may change the date they wish to sit the exam or request that their application form and fee be returned to them.

After the exam closing date, a candidate may not defer their sitting until a later date under any circumstances.  In exceptional circumstances (eg ill health), a candidate may apply for a refund if they withdraw from the exam after the closing date for entries and before the actual exam date.  In these special circumstances, 50% of the total exam fee is refundable.

Texts for the CAOP Exam

Council strongly advises candidates obtain and familiarise themselves with both the Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH) and the British National Formulary (BNF).  Although both texts refer to some medicines not available in New Zealand, the generic information in both is pertinent to the New Zealand pharmacy environment.  New Zealand has recently launched the NZF (NZ Formulary) but this is online only and is therefore not available as a reference in the examination.

Further information on the exam content, structure, texts etc is available on the Australian Pharmacy Council website.  

Supervised Practice and the Law & Ethics Interview


Applicants who pass the CAOP exam are sent an application form for Registration as a Pharmacist.  On the form applicants advise the name of their supervising pharmacist, together with the name and address of the pharmacy where they will complete their period of supervised practice.  (The pharmacist must meet the Pharmacy Council requirements for supervising pharmacists.)

Applicants from Ireland and the United Kingdom are required to complete a minimum of four weeks' supervised practice under the supervision of a practising New Zealand pharmacist, before attending a Law and Ethics interview with an approved assessor.  Applicants from Canada and the USA are required to complete a minimum of three months' supervised practice before attending the interview.  Please note that periods of supervised practise cannot commence until after the CAOP exam results have been made available.  Applicants from Canada and the USA are also required to successfully complete the Revisit The Workplace Programme offered by the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. Please contact the College and Education Training Team for further information.  

Pharmacists must hold an Annual Practising Certificate to practise pharmacy even whilst working under supervision and meeting the specified requirements. The conditions for practise are endorsed on the Annual Practising Certificate and recorded on the public register.  Once all the conditions have been met, the Council will issue an unconditional certificate.

After passing the CAOP exam, applicants have two years in which to complete the registration process.

Immigration Requirements


Applicants must be eligible to work as a pharmacist in New Zealand and must enclose proof with their application for Registration as a Pharmacist.  It is the applicant's responsibility to confirm their registration status with the New Zealand Immigration Service (www.nzis.govt.nz).  

Please note that it is the applicant's responsibility to find employment for their period of supervision.  The Pharmacy Council does not assist with finding employment opportunities.

For further enquiries on the REQR process please email the Registrations Officer.