Regulation and registration of Acupuncture under New Zealand law (HPCA Act)

NZ acupuncture regulation and registration Ministry of HealthThis Wednesday (Aug 8, 2007) New Zealand Minister of Health has approved HPCAA) 2003.

Once acupuncturists are regulated and required to be registered, the standard of acupuncture in New Zealand will significantly improve. Currently one does not need any formal qualification to practice acupuncture in NZ. If you have seen acupuncture on TV, you can probably open a clinic. It may take anywhere between a few months and a couple of years before acupuncture is regulated.

In New Zealand there is a number of acupuncturists who are not fluent in English. These practitioners violate the patients’ Right to Effective Communication. It may become illegal for these acupuncturists to practice acupuncture under the new law.

The new registration and regulation of acupuncture under the HPCA Act to ensure that:

  • acupuncturists have the right qualifications to provide their services
  • maintain and develop acupuncture skills and competence
  • acupuncturist are physically and mentally able to work

Currently acupuncture industry is self-regulated. There are a few organisations offering voluntary membership including New Zealand Register of Acupuncture Incorporated and New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority Incorporated. Membership in either of these organisations allows its members to become ACC acupuncture providers. Currently neither of the organisations has an authority to register an acupuncture practitioner as a health care provider under HPCA Act, even though their names may imply the opposite.

Update (10 June 2010):

From NZ Register of Acupuncture newsletter: “…we  have  been  asked  to  reapply  for  regulation  under  the Health  Practitioners  Competence Assurance Act. Although Acupuncture was approved in 2007, the subsequent review and the recommendations which came out of the review have meant that we need to resubmit our application to show that we meet the new criteria… “

Unfortunately acupuncture regulation is delayed again!

Update (4 November 2011)

From NZ Acupuncture Standards Authority newsletter: *no decision about regulation will be made this year*, and further information has been called for regarding blended authorities. The Minister has clearly stated that no new Boards/Councils will be established, and therefore Chinese Medicine must be blended into an existing HPCA registration Board or Council.

This means that a current HPCA Board/Council will have to agree to host Chinese Medicine. This agreement will form part of the advice given to the Minister of Health.

Once the Ministry has completed its processes, the final decision regarding regulation is in the hands of the Minister of Health, regardless of the advice and recommendation from the Ministry of Health team.

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  • John Servilio

    My partner and I are seriously considering relocating from the U.S. to New Zealand. I am currently licensed in California, which has the most stringent requirements for licesure in the U.S. (along with a handful of other states). We do have some concerns and I was wondering if you might be able to address them. I am most grateful for any insights you might offer.
    * What is the level of acceptance of acupuncture as a profession in New Zealand? Do you see the profession gaining more legitimacy in NZ?
    * Do many insurance plans cover it? How about any government-sponsored (universal) health care? I’m not actually sure if practitioners in NZ have to bill insurance companies in the same way we do in the U.S.
    * Do you have an opinion about the best way to bring my skills into the country, i.e. start my own practice under a work visa, or try to gain employment through a school or existing practice?

  • vitalis.co.nz

    Hi John,
    thanks for your comment.
    I will try to answer the questions in separate comments.
    BTW, why are you considering New Zealand?
    Cheers,
    Vitalis

  • vitalis.co.nz

    What is the level of acceptance of acupuncture as a profession in New Zealand? Do you see the profession gaining more legitimacy in NZ?

    95% of general practitioners refer patients to complementary medicines, 20% of them practice complimentary medicines themselves. Acupuncture is commonly performed complimentary therapy by GPs.

    Currently acupuncture is unregulated. This means anyone can practice. I find this quite scary. This also does not reflect well on the industry. But hopefully it will be regulated within a year or two.

    If you are planing to come, it is good idea to do this now. You can start practicing straight away, and you’ll have time to “cross-credit” your qualification to NZ diploma of acupuncture.

  • vitalis.co.nz

    Do many insurance plans cover it?

    ACC (accident compensation corporation) covers acupuncture for accidents only. There are a couple of insurance companies who will cover acupuncture, but I didn’t have many patients profiting from this.

  • vitalis.co.nz

    Do you have an opinion about the best way to bring my skills into the country, i.e. start my own practice under a work visa, or try to gain employment through a school or existing practice?

    This is a question I will not be able to answer, because best way is your way.
    I started by renting the rooms from an acupuncture clinic and teaching at the same time. Unfortunately when teaching much of my time was spent on marking the exams and other paperwork. I didn’t enjoy it a bit. I stopped teaching as soon as I could afford it.
    If you come to NZ, do email me your resume and do come to talk to me. I will be happy to help.

  • Anonymous

    I read the email on your website from an acupuncturist in California, US. I believe the letter was dated Aug 2007 and at that time there weren’t any regulations regarding acupuncture.
    Has that changed?
    What are the requirements?
    Currently I am licensed in the states of New York and Virginia, and I am considering moving to NZ.
    What is the scope of practice?
    Thanks for your time and information.
    T.

  • vitalis.co.nz

    Hi T,
    acupuncture is still not regulated in New Zealand.
    V.

  • Kit

    Vitalis,
    I have done a Diploma in acpuncture in Hong Kong. If I want to practice in New Zealand, do I need to join New Zealand Register of Acupuncture Incorporated and New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority Incorporated first?
    I would love to go to NZ and I am not sure the immigration procedures. I hope the acupuncture would help.
    Thanks,
    KK

  • vitalis.co.nz

    Hi K,
    if you comply with immigration requirements and can legally work in New Zealand, you do not need to join anything to practice acupuncture in NZ.
    However, acupuncture soon may become regulated, and your diploma may be insufficient. You may need to obtain a higher qualification and join a professional organisation such as New Zealand Register of Acupuncture or New Zealand Acupuncture Standards Authority.
    Hope this helps your decision.
    Cheers!
    Vitalis

  • Anonymous

    Hi
    I read your comments on cross crediting acupuncture qualifications. I am currently a member of the British Acupuncture Council and am a New Zealander returning to Auckland in August 2009.
    I have a Bachelor of Science (acupuncture) degree from the UK.
    What is the process of cross-crediting? to qualify for the register of acupuncturists in NZ?
    R

  • vitalis.co.nz

    Hi R,

    currently NZRA's minimum qualification requirement is as follows:

    TCM -Trained Applicants:

    TCM -Trained Applicants must provide evidence of completion of four years study of
    acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. (3600 total hours study which includes a
    minimum of 500 supervised clinical training but may include up to 720 hours of supervised
    clinical training).

    Other Health Disciplines:

    Persons from other health disciplines may become NZRA members after providing evidence
    of the completion of two years study of which the core modality comprises TCM diagnosis
    and Acupuncture theory. (1800 total hours study, which must include a minimum of 500
    hours of supervised clinical training).

    Regards,
    Vitalis

  • vitalis.co.nz

    If you come from overseas, no matter how qualified you are, you will need to pass a theory and clinical assessment. I recon both are really easy, but may take up quite a lot of your time.

    Theory assessment includes Ethics, Precautions & Contraindications
    and Point Location.

    Practical assessment used to include a treatment of a patient or two with an assessor present.

  • Andrew

    Hey there! I am currently studying TCM at ACTCM in San Francisco. My wife is from NZ and we may relocate at some point. You mentioned that a board certified practitioner from the US may have to take a test to be certified in NZ. How does one schedule to take the test? When I graduate, I will be taking the very difficult California Boards and the US National Boards and would love to test in NZ with everything fresh in my mind.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

  • vitalis.co.nz

    Hi Andrew, to schedule a test you have to contact one of the acupuncture professional organisations such as New Zealand Register of Acupuncture. They will provide with the info you require.
    Regards,
    Vitalis

  • LT

    How do you find a decent acupuncturist who understands english currently seeing one who doesn’t quite understand me

    • There are hundreds of acupuncturists in NZ. A personal recommendation is one way to find one. It’s a good idea to check their qualification and if they have current practicing certificate.

      If you are in Auckland could always come and see me! 😉

  • Rajan Naik

    i am practising acupuncturist for last 17 years with appreciable clinical experience in classical, TCM, Scalp, Auriculo puncture from India. I am having different Valid Certifications, Diploma in Acupuncture. How can i start Practising Acupuncture in NewZealand

    • RW

      As far as I know, currently you don’t need any qualification to start practicing acupuncture in New Zealand. You need to be a member of one of the professional organisations to be able to claim for treatment of injuries which are covered by ACC. These organisations have their own criteria regarding qualifications, but we do know that there are quite a few acupuncturists who have received NZ National Diploma of Acupuncture from New Zealand School of Acupuncture, who haven’t actually studied there.

      You have to have a valid working permit or to be a permanent resident / citizen of New Zealand.

      Get proper legal advice from a lawyer in NZ before making any decisions regarding practicing acupuncture in NZ.

  • *Update* from NZASA: 

    Submissions were called for by the Ministry of Health in July 2011 regarding the application for regulation of Chinese Medicine.
     
    Thirty five (35) submissions were received by the Ministry, and these are currently being analysed by the MOH which will then make a recommendation to the Minister regarding the regulation of Chinese Medicine.
     
    NZASA has been advised that *no decision about regulation will be made this year*, and further information has been called for regarding blended authorities.  The Minister has clearly stated that no new Boards/Councils will be established, and therefore Chinese Medicine must be blended into an existing HPCA registration Board or Council.
     
    This means that a current HPCA Board/Council will have to agree to host Chinese Medicine.  This agreement will form part of the advice given to the Minister of Health.
     
    Once the Ministry has completed its processes, the final decision regarding regulation is in the hands of the Minister of Health, regardless of the advice and recommendation from the Ministry of Health team.

  • Keep yourself updated by subscribing to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-V-Acupuncture/23879680612?sk=wall (just press the like button). 

    • nalin wasantha

      hi there
      i am acupuncture and homoeopathic practitioner from srilanka . i got qualified in homoepathy from london.. please advice me how to migrate new zealand ?
      i am nalin wasantha

      • Hi Nalin, we’re not an immigration forum. Reading up on the NZ Immigration website or getting an immigration lawyer, could be a good place to start. Cheers!

  • Engenheiro_fei

    Hi there,

    I am a physiotherapist and finished my pos-graduation in acupuncture. I am brazilian, 29 years old.
    I did those two courses in Brazil. I would like to know how can I work as an acupuncturist in New Zealand. 

    Do I need to do an extra course in NZ to able to work over there? What are the steps?

    thanks so muck!!

    • Vitalis

       Hi there. I believe the law hasn’t changed yet. And you don’t need any qualification at all to work as an acupuncturist unless you want to join a professional body such as NZASA or NZRA. Thanks, Vitalis

  • Katja Unger

    Hi, I´m a german psychiatrist and plan to work in New zealand for one year. I´m a Nada trainer – a special acupuncture protocol developed in USA first for treating addiction, now widely spread used in psychiatric treatment. May I practise acupuncture in New Zealand? Is it enough to be a medical doctor with acupuncture training?
    Best regards
    Katja Unger

  • Elanita Korian

    Hi,
    I am a licensed Acupuncturist in the U.S. I will be moving to NZ in May 2013. I understand that there is no regulation at this time. As an overseas acupuncturist, do I need to register with local governments, business or health associations?
    I would like to join NZASA, is this a process that I should start will living in the US?
    Thanks for your help
    elanita

    • Hi Elanita, are you planning to start your own practice or work for someone else? You can definitely start the application process to NZASA from US. This makes sense. V.

      • Elanita Korian

        Thanks for your help – I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to open my own practice so I had planned to work or volunteer for some one else first and then slowly open my own practice. I’m getting started on my application!
        Thanks again
        elanita

  • Soo

    Hi there My flatmate is doing acupuncture practice without work visa approved yet. Will this be a problem? Also she is practicing in residential area I am not happy with the fact that I should share the toilet with her patients. is this okay with council? She sometimes washes the patient bed sheet in the kitchen sink I am not happy about that either.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, this is not really a question for this forum. It doesn’t sound good. Your flatmate may potentially have problems with NZ immigration, your local council and IRD.

  • Rostislav

    Hello.
    My friend wants to move to NZ from Mongolia to open an acupuncture clinic. He is a doctor in this field. He is from Korea and doesnt speak English but he has a translater who will follow him.
    1. Is it difficult to register in this field in NZ and how much time does it usually take?
    2. How high are taxes in NZ for doing acupuncture business?

    Maybe it may influence, just in case he is also a Buddhist monk.
    Thank you.

  • merita

    Aloha, I have been practicing traditional oriental medicine for over 25 years in New York California. I am retiring in NZ with my daughter and would like to continue lecturing and working. With my current Visa what other requirements would you suggest. thank u

  • Amanda

    Hi there. I am currently an acupuncture student in my last year in the United States and I want to move to New Zealand after graduation. What is the most common model of business there – how likely is it to work for someone else, or would I have to set up my own practice? Does setting up your own practice problematic for getting a visa? Thanks for your time and help!

    • Hi Amanda, there are two acupuncture schools in New Zealand and Auckland University of Technology has a course. All together they are teaching more acupuncturists than New Zealand needs. There are numerous practices. It would be easy to start a business, but many acupuncturists I know are struggling to get sufficient patients even after a few years in practice. If you are looking for a relaxed lifestyle, you’ll find it here 🙂 As far as a visa is concerned, the rules are quite complex, but you can find all the info on NZ immigration website http://www.immigration.govt.nz/, alternatively, you can try searching for a forum where they discuss immigration or talk to a lawyer here or an immigration consultant. Regards, Vitalis

  • Maria

    Hi,
    I’m in my final year of studying traditional Chinese acupuncture in london, it is a course validated by the British acupuncture council. After reading the comments below so it it correct to say that there’s no point coming to NZ as an acupuncture practitioner if it is difficult to get a job/patients?

    • Hi Maria,

      There is always a point if you are coming to NZ for the right reason (like lifestyle 😉 ).

      Don’t let the NZ conditions put you down. Your clinical skills, your attitude, your creativity all will contribute to success. But it may be difficult to achieve it overnight. Feel free to email or give me a ring if you come to NZ.

      Cheers!

      • Maria

        Thank you for your response. Not long to go before I graduate now. Speak soon 🙂

  • neki

    Hi – New Zealand is a great place to work- anyone interested we have a job at http://www.queenstownhealth.com
    please contact us!

  • Malini

    hi… im a medical student.. may i know what is the regulatory, safety and legal aspects for acupuncture generally ??

  • Jens

    Hi.
    Is there any new on regulation of acupuncture in NZ? Is there now an official registration needed.
    Tx Jens

    • V

      Hi Jens, no, if you don’t want to see ACC/insurance patients, you don’t need to become a member of NZASA or NZRA. If you qualify, I’d recommend looking into becoming a member of one of these organisations. Cheers, V.

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  • Elsebeth bak

    Hi. I am qualified acupuncture in Denmark. I am in New Zealand 3 month. Can I give acupuncture or is There any regulations