In the USA the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine tests practitioners to ensure they are knowledgeable about Chinese medicine. Many states require this test for licensing, but each state has its own laws and requirements. Generally, states furthest to the west (Hawaii most particularly, California, etc.) have the most comprehensive laws and regulations regarding acupuncture. In many U.S. states — those furthest to the east — medical doctors (M.D.s) are permitted to practice acupuncture with no specific training in acupuncture. In some states, acupuncturists are required to work with an M.D. in a subservient relationship, even if the M.D. has no training in acupuncture. Contrastingly, Hawaii forbids M.D.s to practice acupuncture unless they have received specific training in it and have demonstrated related competency.
Acupuncture is becoming accepted today. Over fifteen million Americans in 1994 tried acupuncture. In 1996, the FDA changed the status of acupuncture needles from Class III to Class II medical devices, meaning that needles are regarded as safe and effective when used appropriately by licensed practitioners. Acupuncture is also in the curriculum of many colleges today.
In Australia, the legalities of practicing acupuncture also vary by state. In 2000, an independent government agency was established to oversee the practice of Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture in the state of Victoria. The Chinese Medicine Registration Board of Victoria aims to protect the public, ensuring that only apropriately experienced or qualified practitioners are registered to practice Chinese Medicine. The legislation put in place stipulates that only practitioners who are state registered may use the following titles: Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Registered Acupuncturist, Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Registered Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioner.
In the United Kingdom, British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) members observe the Code of Safe Practice with standards of hygiene and sterilisation of equipment. Members use single-use pre-sterilised disposable needles. Similar standards apply in most jurisdictions in the United States and Australia.
In Ontario, Canada bill #50 defines “Traditional Chinese Medicine” (TCM) and includes standards for accreditation. It may become law.
In the province of British Columbia the TCM practitioners and Acupuncturists Bylaws were approved by the provincial government on April 12, 2001. The governing body, College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia provides professional licensing. Acupuncturists began lobbying the B.C. government in the 1970s for regulation of the profession which was achieved in 2003.
Many other countries do not license acupuncturists or require they be trained.