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Acupuncture code of practice

​Acupuncture is the practice of inserting very narrow needles through the skin and tissues to treat ailments or injuries. Acupuncture may carry an associated risk of transferring blood-borne infections.

​​Your business premises

Your premises should be clean and hygienic. The instruments you use should be single-use, disposable or sterilised after every use.

You must keep the surfaces sanitary. The operators must wear gloves and protective equipment. There are minimum standards you must comply with if you have a shop (premises) or are a mobile operation.

You must get a Health Protection Licence to operate.

Our tip

Under the Health and Hygiene Bylaw 2013, members of the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists (Acupuncture NZ) or the New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority (NZASA) are exempt from our licensing and code of practice requirements.

​Working with your customer

It's a good idea to talk with your customer before you start any treatment. You need to tell the customer what the treatment will involve and if there are any potential risks to their health.

You should give aftercare instructions to the customer, and check that they understand them.

How to provide a safe service

  • You must sterilise all instruments.
  • Use only single-use disposable needles.
  • Remove all needles from the packaging by the handle of the needle.

Best practice: some additional recommendations


  • Insert needles quickly using the correct needle technique.
  • Do not touch needle points with bare fingers unless you have washed your hands appropriately and used alcohol gel.
  • Do not insert needles into open wounds.


Moxibustion is a form of fire heat treatment that stimulates specific acupuncture points of the body.

When using this technique, it is best practice to:

  • get written consent from the customer before moxibustion treatment
  • moisten the skin with a swab or cotton wool bud and clean water, before starting moxibustion directly on the skin
  • do not leave your customer unattended at any stage during the procedure
  • take care when performing moxibustion directly on the face or any sensitive area
  • have a window open or an extraction fan or air conditioner to clear any smoke.    


Cupping is a treatment in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin along the meridians of the body, creating suction. It is believed to stimulate the flow of energy. It may cause bruising.

When using this technique, it is best practice to:

  • get a written customer consent before cupping and advise the customer of the possibility of bruising
  • explain the procedure to the customer before you start the treatment
  • ask the customer to let you know if the procedure becomes too uncomfortable for them
  • take care not to overheat the cups before you place them on the body
  • sterilise all cups after use.

 Related links



Open an acupuncture business an acupuncture businessSteps to take when you open an acupuncture business.GuideaspxAcupuncture Health licensing
Health and Hygiene Bylaw 2013 and Hygiene Bylaw 2013This bylaw protects the health of people using commercial services that involve skin contact such as tattooing, health and beauty treatments, therapeutic massage and colon hydrotherapy.aspxBylaw
Health and beauty licence fees and beauty licence feesAssess and register health protection and hairdresser’s licences as providing either a single basic, multiple basic, single high risk or multiple high risk services.aspxHealth, beauty, leisure and hygiene
Mobile or temporary business sites: Code of practice summary or temporary business sites: Code of practice summaryFind out what health and beauty businesses that are run from mobile or temporary sites must do to comply with the operator conduct code of practice.aspxCodes of conduct
Operator conduct code of practice conduct code of practiceFind out the minimal standards of operator code of conduct that health and beauty businesses operators must comply with.aspxCodes of conduct
Permanent business sites: Code of practice summary business sites: Code of practice summaryHealth and beauty businesses that are run from permanent sites must comply with the operator conduct code of practice.aspxCodes of conduct