Sunbeds expose users to higher levels of dangerous UV radiation than the sun. They increase your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.

You’re more at risk of skin cancer the more often you use sunbeds, and the younger you start using them. Your skin will also age more quickly.

Some people are especially at risk. Never use sunbeds if you:

  • have pale skin that doesn’t tan easily, or lots of freckles and moles
  • have had skin cancer before
  • are under 18 (even people under 30 are at higher risk).

From 4 January 2017, commercial sunbed operators are not allowed to offer sunbed sessions to people under 18.

Guidelines for sunbed operators

There are voluntary guidelines for sunbed operators, set out in the standard AS/NZS 2635:2008 Solaria for cosmetic purposes. However, many sunbed operators do not follow these guidelines.

The Consumer New Zealand report on sunbeds has more information on sunbed operator compliance.

Since 2012, public health units have done 6-monthly surveys of sunbed operators. A summary of the latest public health unit findings is available in the following report from EMF Services.

To read previous reports, visit the EMF Services website.

Ban on under-18s

From 4 January 2017, it is illegal for sunbed operators to allow under-18s to use a sunbed. There is a fine of up to $2,000 for an individual, and $10,000 for a company, for non-compliance.

The following documents can be accepted as proof of age:

  • a current passport
  • a current New Zealand driving licence
  • a Hospitality New Zealand card with their photograph and date of birth.

No other document is acceptable. 

The ban was introduced because using a sunbed increases the risk of skin cancer, and the risk is even greater for young people who use sunbeds.

The legislation is available on the NZ Legislation website – see Part 5.

More information about the reasons behind these changes is available on the Ministry of Health’s website:

Reducing public harm from commercial sunbeds- Regulatory impact statement

Reducing harm caused by commercial sunbeds - Consultation Document

Find out more