Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

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Drug Crime Overseas: Don't Risk It

Every year New Zealanders put themselves at risk of arrest or detention for drug-related offences overseas. Remember that when you are overseas you are subject to that country's laws and penalties - no matter how harsh they may appear by New Zealand standards.

In many countries, penalties for drug-related offences are severe. Possession, use or trafficking of even very small quantities of drugs can lead to lengthy imprisonment thousands of miles away from family and friends. New Zealand does not have any prisoner exchange agreements and cannot accept the transfer of New Zealanders from overseas prisons. Prison conditions in some countries may be much worse than in New Zealand too.

Testing positive for an illegal drug, even if considered legal elsewhere or consumed prior to arriving in a country, can lead to jail time or deportation. A zero tolerance approach in some countries can result in extremely harsh penalties, such as corporal punishment (caning) or the death penalty. Don’t risk it.

If you or a family member are arrested on drug-related charges overseas, you can make contact with the nearest New Zealand Embassy, High Commission or Consulate to seek consular assistance. It is important to remember that the New Zealand Government and its officials cannot intervene in the justice systems of other countries. To find out about the kind of consular assistance we can (and cannot) provide, see our information on arrest and detention

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