Update after having been on the trip
Australia doesn't care about it anymore. I filled in my arrival card and marked "Yes" for importing medical supplies. The lady at customs asked me to elaborate, immediately dismissed it when I said "eliquids", and let me through customs with no checks.
I assume there's still a limit to the amount of eliquid you can bring into the country, but they weren't interested in actually seeing the eliquids that I had declared.


I am leaving for a 5 week holiday to Australia (and New Zealand) soon.

I moved to e-cigarettes a while ago, and recently found out that they are generally prohibited in Australia (barring a prescription).

This is the most comprehensive page I've found on the subject. In detail:

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Personal Importation Scheme in Australia allows a person the ability to import a 3-month supply at the one time (max dose recommended by manufacturer) of unapproved therapeutic goods into Australia, and they do not need any approval required by the TGA so long as the following is understood and carried out:

  • Goods purchased cannot be sold and are only for personal use or immediate family
  • Medicine must have their original packaging and any dispensary labels intact (where necessary)
  • Goods are not under any restriction under Australian customs controls or quarantine rules and do not contain contolled substances
  • Goods are not to be injectable, nor an they contain any material of human or animal origin (except insulin)
  • Quantity of the goods imported within a 12 month period does not exceed 15 months supply of the goods. ( medicines at max dose recommended by manufacturer as well as : Goods that are Schedule 4 or 8 of the Poisons Standard ie) Nicotine E- Liquid must also have a prescription held on file from an Australian registered medical practitioner.

Emphasis mine (and theirs too, I guess).

As I am Belgian, and nowhere near Australia, I can't consult an Australian physician before getting to Australia.
Annoyingly, I can't just travel to Australia and get a prescription there, because you then need to import the nicotine e-liquids from abroad (even if you're an Australian citizen).

Part of me assumes that the rules here are described from the point of view of an Australian citizen (thus not taking tourists into account). It seems a bit counterintuitive that Australians would be allowed to import nicotine e-liquids, but tourists have no way of bringing them along if they have a valid prescription.

Note: I actually already scheduled a doctor's appointment for tomorrow, in order to get a prescription/certificate from my (Belgian) GP. But now I'm unsure if it's actually going to matter or not.

If there's no way for me to bring the e-liquids; I'll (begrudgingly) make my peace with that and will have to resort to smoking cigarettes again. However, I really want to avoid that, so I would like to know in advance whether I'll be allowed to bring them in, because having just under €100 (155 AUD) confiscated won't be an enjoyable first leg of my holiday.

So, on to the questions:

  • Will I be able to bring my nicotine e-liquids as a tourist, if I have a prescription?
  • Does a Belgian prescription suffice? Is there any information regarding the needed information on the prescription, so that I can pass that along to my doctor?
  • If they need an Australian prescription, would they e.g. hold my e-liquids until I return with a local prescription for them; or will I lose the e-liquids indefinitely upon my arrival in Australia?

Note: I was informed that New Zealand had a similar legislature, but I can currently find NZ webshops with nicotine e-liquids, so I assume they have legalized it by now. If not, I'm interested in hearing about it.

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+100

According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration:

Under the Personal Importation Scheme you may import a 3 month supply at the one time (at the maximum dose recommended by the manufacturer) of unapproved therapeutic goods into Australia without any approval required by the TGA provided that:

...

  • if the goods are medicines in Schedule 4 or 8 of the Poisons Standard a prescription from an Australian-registered medical practitioner is held for the medicine.

And according to the Poisons Standard, Nicotine is indeed a Schedule 4 poison:

NICOTINE in preparations for human therapeutic use except for use as an aid in withdrawal from tobacco smoking in preparations for oromucosal or transdermal use.

Oromucosal use includes nicotine chewing gums and transdermal use includes nicotine patches, so e-liquids are out of luck. Therefore the answer is that legally speaking you must indeed obtain a prescription from an Australian doctor if you want to do things by the book. It sounds ridiculous for a tourist, but Australia is quite an insane country when it comes to restrictions of personal imports, so you shouldn't be surprised they're not particularly accommodating.

What I would personally do is import the e-liquid and declare it at the airport — chances are no one would bother taking them away. If not, you can always buy regular cigarettes or use other forms of nicotine consumption.

  • Thanks for the answer! :) Good to know the specifics, my question was mostly about what to expect when arriving there. After a 30hr transit (and 30hr nicotine withdrawal), I won't be the most patient of people :) – Flater Dec 12 '17 at 10:57
  • @Flater maybe give nicotine patches or chewing gum a try? They're less harmful and Australia doesn't restrict their import. – JonathanReez Dec 12 '17 at 11:01
  • 2
    I've tried those before in the past and they didn't stick. For me, the habit of smoking is more ingrained than the need for nicotine, and with the vaporizer, I can gradually decrease the nicotine while retaining the habit of (nicotine-free) smoke breaks. It's similar to e.g. during a diet, switching to healthier treats instead of no longer eating treats altogether. – Flater Dec 12 '17 at 11:13
  • 1
    Update after my trip: Australia doesn't care about it anymore. I filled in my arrival card and marked "Yes" for importing medical supplies. The lady at customs asked me to elaborate, immediately dismissed it when I said "eliquids" at the counter and let me through customs with no checks. – Flater Feb 2 at 9:35

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.