Skin piercing

Registration of skin piercing

The following types of skin piercing activities need to be registered with us:

  • Acupuncture
  • Tattooing
  • Ear-piercing
  • Semi-permanent skin-colouring
  • Cosmetic piercing
  • Electrolysis

Both the premises and person must be registered to carry out specific skin piercing activities and comply with model byelaws we have adopted. You will need to get planning permission for any premises proposed to be used for skin piercing activities. Once planning permission has been granted an application can be submitted online using the link below:

An applicant must ensure the procedures, equipment and facilities used are safe, hygienic, prevent the spread of disease and comply fully with the general duty of care required.

Once an application has been submitted and the fee paid, an inspection of the premises will be made. If the inspector considers the applicant's procedures and the premises to be suitable, then registration will be approved. There are no powers to refuse registration, but the practice is controlled through compliance with byelaws in each case.

Bye-laws requirements


  • Any needle, metal instrument or other item of equipment used in the treatment, must be in a sterile condition and kept sterile until it is used.
  • If pre-sterilised items are not used, then adequate facilities must be provided for the purpose of sterilisation.

Premises and cleanliness

  • A No Smoking sign must be prominently displayed.
  • All furniture and fittings in the treatment area must be kept clean and in good repair.
  • All surfaces in any part of the premises used by clients must be kept clean and in good repair.
  • Any open cut, wound, sore or boil must be suitably covered by an impermeable dressing.
  • Any overall worn by the operative should be clean and in good repair.
  • Tables, couches, seats etc. used in the treatment area must have a smooth, impervious surface which is regularly wiped down with disinfectant and covered by a disposable paper sheet, changed after each client.
  • The operative should have sole use of the washing facilities which must provide hot and cold running water, soap (or a similar cleanser) and a nail brush.
  • The operative should not smoke nor drink in the treatment area.
  • The operative's hands and nails must be kept clean.

Further guidance

Registration holders must adhere to the following:

  • A person under the age of 18 years may receive body piercing provided that a written permission form is produced from, or the treatment is performed in the presence of, the person's parent or guardian.
  • It is an offence to tattoo any person under the age of 18 years, regardless of parental consent.
  • Records should be kept for a minimum of one year.
  • Nipple and genital piercing is prohibited on minors, regardless of parental consent.
  • The health of the client and the suitability of the treatment should be discussed prior to its administration. It is advisable to keep written records of the name and address of every client and date of the activity. Accurate dates will be valuable if there is any question of an infection problem and can often help to protect the operative.


The licence fees for electrolysis, acupuncture, piercing and tattooing, including temporary tattooing are:

  • Persons £154
  • Premises £281

Tacit consent

Tacit consent does not apply to skin piercing applications, as it is in the public interest for us to process such applications before granting them. 

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