The Australian vaping industry exists in a strange place legally. While vaping is legal – and there are vape shops throughout Australia – liquid nicotine is a controlled substance that can’t be bought in retail outlets. The only way to buy e-liquid with nicotine in Australia is to obtain a doctor’s prescription and buy the e-liquid from a compounding pharmacy. Otherwise, Australia considers nicotine a poison in the same vein as DDT and cyanide and restricts its sale. Even if you do manage to obtain a prescription, compounding pharmacies – which aren’t common outside metropolitan areas – may not always have the required ingredients available to make e-liquid. Those that do have the ingredients often can’t make anything other than flavorless vape juice.
With the lack of compelling e-liquid options available domestically, many Australians look abroad to satisfy their vaping needs – and New Zealand vape shops like Premium Vape are at the forefront of that trend. Buying e-liquid in New Zealand has proven to be the perfect solution for Australian vapers because New Zealand is so close that the shipping speed is about the same as it would be for a domestic purchase.
Why, though, are Australians able to import vape juice with nicotine from abroad if they can’t buy it locally? To understand the answer to that question, you need to learn about an interesting loophole in Australian law.
The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration Personal Importation Scheme
The Australian government recognizes that certain controlled substances have therapeutic value and allows Australians to import those substances from abroad if they can’t get them domestically. Nicotine e-liquid is one of those substances. The law that covers the importation of controlled substances is called the Therapeutic Goods Administration Personal Importation Scheme. To comply with that law, you only need to do two things.
Obtain a Doctor’s Prescription
You must obtain a doctor’s prescription for the therapeutic use of nicotine e-liquid. On the surface, that might seem like a fairly easy thing to do. After all, what doctor wouldn’t write a prescription if you simply explain that you are a smoker who can’t quit, and vaping is your only alternative? Some people have nevertheless had difficulty obtaining nicotine prescriptions in Australia, however, because some doctors are hesitant to recommend anything other than traditional nicotine replacement products. If you have difficulty obtaining a prescription from your doctor, you may want to refer him or her to the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association for more information about how vaping works and how it reduces the harm caused by tobacco use.
When you have e-liquid shipped to Australia from New Zealand or elsewhere, the seller will not ask you to provide your prescription. That’s because it isn’t the seller’s responsibility to ensure that you comply with Australian laws. It’s still wise to obtain a prescription before you begin importing e-liquid, though, because it’s always possible that a customs agent might ask you to present your prescription when you pick a shipment up.
Don’t Import E-Liquid in Bulk
The goal of the Personal Importation Scheme is to give people an opportunity to import therapeutic goods for personal use – not for resale. If you could import as much e-liquid as you wanted, you might be tempted to supply your friends and save them the trouble of obtaining their own prescriptions. That, of course, would be illegal – so the Personal Importation Scheme sets a limit on how much nicotine you can import to ensure that you’re only buying it for your own use.
The Personal Importation Scheme requires that you import no more than:
- A three-month supply of e-liquid in a single shipment
- A 15-month supply of e-liquid in a 12-month period
Australian law doesn’t define the maximum amount of e-liquid that you’re allowed to use in a month, most likely because different individuals have different needs. You are therefore most likely safe to import whatever amount of e-liquid you actually do use as long as it doesn’t look like you’re buying bulk amounts for illegal resale.
What Vaping Products Are Australians Buying From New Zealand?
Two types of vaping products are especially popular for Australians to buy from New Zealand. Those products are nicotine e-liquid and closed pod vaping systems. Closed pod systems such as JUUL are particularly popular because they’re not available for purchase in Australia; their pods are pre-filled with nicotine e-liquid.
If you’re a vaper who prefers to use mods and fill your own tanks, there’s no need to buy your vaping hardware from New Zealand because all of the mods, tanks and coils that you need are available domestically. Remember, vaping is completely legal in Australia – it’s just nicotine e-liquid that isn’t.
If you want to use a closed pod system, on the other hand, you’ll need to purchase the starter kit and the pods by importing them. When you buy the JUUL or another pod system from a vape shop in New Zealand, keep in mind that you’re going to use about one full pod every day. Therefore, it is definitely a good idea to buy a few extra boxes of pods each time you place an order. You don’t want to run out of pods while you’re still waiting for a shipment to arrive.
Refillable JUUL Pods: The Ultimate Tool for Australian JUUL Users
We’ll leave you with one tip. If you do decide to buy JUUL in Australia or use another closed pod vaping system, it’s a very good idea to buy a pack of refillable pods and some bottled e-liquid. While one pre-filled JUUL pod only provides enough e-liquid for around a day of vaping, a 30 ml bottle of nicotine salt e-liquid fills the equivalent of 30 JUUL pods or more. If you use one pod per day, one bottle of e-liquid should provide at least a 30-day supply. Even if you prefer the flavor of the official JUUL pods, it’s still wise to have some e-liquid and refillable pods handy in case you run out unexpectedly.