It's free. It's easy. And you do the test at home.

The National Bowel Screening Programme is free for people aged 60 to 74 years. It aims to save lives by finding bowel cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated.

If you are in that age group, please ensure your GP has your correct contact details.

When you receive your invitation around the time of your birthday, you don't need to do anything.  A bowel screening test kit will be sent to you around two to three weeks later.  It's easy to do yourself at home.


When you get the test – just do it!

You are more likely to survive bowel cancer if it is found early.

You may be at increased risk if:

  • You have a strong family history of bowel cancer (such as a close family member diagnosed before 55 years of age, or if two or more close family member of the same side of the family have had bowel cancer)
  • You have known or suspected genetic bowel cancer syndrome
  • You have had extensive inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis for more than 10 years

Download and read this document of Frequently Asked Questions about bowel screening

Find out more about the National Bowel Screening Programme 


Taking part


You don’t need to do anything to join the programme. You will be invited to attend around the time you turn 60, and a test kit will be sent to you. If you stay on the programme, you will continue to be sent a test kit every two years from the ages of 60 to 74.

The age at which Māori and Pacific people can have free bowel screening is being lowered to start at 50. This will happen across the country over the next couple of years. See our 50-74 screening: Māori and Pacific people page for more information.

The age is being lowered for Māori and Pacific people because a higher proportion of bowel cancer occurs in Māori and Pacific people before reaching age 60, compared with others.

If the programme has been underway in your area for more than two years and you haven‘t received an invite, please advise the National Bowel Screening Programme by emailing You will receive a response within 10 working days.


Doing the bowel screening test

If you’re eligible for free bowel screening, you will be sent a test kit, instructions on how to use it, and a consent form.

More information on doing the bowel screening test can be found on


What to expect if you are referred for a colonoscopy 

If you have been referred for bowel screening colonoscopy by your GP, here's what you need to know.

Download and read this document of what to expect before your screening colonoscopy.


Last updated 31 March 2023.