Returning to practice
Requirements of returning to practising register

Summary of return to practising register requirements

This information is for:

  • pharmacists on the NZ Register with a status of ‘non-practising’ who want to return to a ‘practising’ status, including pharmacists who have been practising overseas.


  • pharmacists who were previously on the NZ Register who want to be reinstated with a ‘practising’ status.

Note that “practising” refers to the pharmacist Scope of Practice.

The principal purpose of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance (HPCA) Act 2003 is to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that pharmacists are competent and fit to practise. It requires pharmacists to be registered and hold a current Annual Practising Certificate (APC) to be able to practice, even if practising under supervision.  

Council may issue an APC to a registered pharmacist upon receipt of the online return to practice application, and fee.  Depending on when and where the pharmacist last practiced, an APC with a condition on the scope of practice, may be issued.  The condition would be proposed based on the categories described in the Return to Practice Policy.  Upon successful completion of all specified return to practice requirements, the condition would be removed.

A pharmacist may have previously been deemed competent to practise in New Zealand, however, this may no longer be the case. Therefore the Pharmacy Council will require some supporting documentation, including details of where and when the pharmacist last practised, on-going continuing professional development activities, etc, to determine that competence has been maintained.

Documentation to support a return to practice application may include some or all of the following

  • Certificate of Current Professional Status/Letter of Good Standing – Pharmacists who have practiced overseas (other than Australia) since last working in New Zealand, need to contact the Registration Authority (in each country they have practiced in) to arrange for a Certificate of Current Professional Status/Letter of Good Standing.  The Pharmacy Council must receive these directly from the Registration Authority before an application can be considered.
  • Name of supervising pharmacist and proposed start date (required for all categories, except category 1).
  • Work history in chronological order including start and end dates, hours worked per week (approximate) for each role, and brief description of pharmacist duties. Supplementary information may be provided by uploading a CV. 
  • Evidence of Continuing Professional Development compliance.
  • Supporting documentation if a health or conduct matter is disclosed.
  • Online payment (internet banking or credit card) is required at the time of application. 

Reinstatement to the Register

A pharmacist who was previously registered with the Pharmacy Council (or under the Pharmacy Act 1970) who is now considering reinstatement to the practising register, should be aware that any conditions at the time their registration was cancelled, will remain on their scope of practice, until such time as they are varied or cancelled by the Pharmacy Council.  


As part of the return to practice requirements, a pharmacist may need to be supervised for a specified period.   The supervisor must be a registered practising pharmacist who meets the Pharmacy Council requirements for supervising pharmacists.

Supervision includes the monitoring and reporting on a pharmacist’s performance while under supervision. After an initial period of direct supervision, the supervisor in consultation with the pharmacist can modify the level of supervision.  It must remain at a level that ensures safe practice while allowing the pharmacist to gain experience in all relevant areas. The level of supervision can be further reviewed and modified on an as-required basis.

Returning to practise in a role that does not involve direct-patient care

The scope of practice for pharmacists defines the activities that fall under the scope, and recognises that pharmacy practice is wider than working directly with patients.

If a pharmacist is returning to a role that does not involve ‘direct patient care’, an option is available for a change in the authorisation of the scope, (and exemption from supervision in a community or hospital pharmacy).  It is generally not available for pharmacists that are managing direct patient care services or providing advice that directly influences patient care. 

If the Pharmacy Council authorises a change to the scope of practice of a pharmacist, limiting his/her practice to roles and services that do not involve direct patient care, this pharmacist is not permitted to:

  • Work in a pharmacy as a pharmacist, or work under supervision as a pharmacist, unless a condition of supervision is set by the Pharmacy Council,
  • Work as a pharmacist on an occasional basis,
  • Provide information related to medicines use to patients, their relatives, whānau or representative or health care providers, whether regulated or unregulated, in the course of providing patient care as a pharmacist, or
  • Be the manager of a pharmacy, or the pharmacy licence holder.

The limitation would remain on the pharmacist’s scope indefinitely, or until further requirements were completed.

The Registrar will consider making an exemption, on a case by case basis, where patient safety is not compromised, and the intent of this statement is upheld.

To begin an application to return to practice please log in to your online account.  For further information please contact the Registrations Officer.