Skin piercing licences

Do you need to register and what happens if you don't, when and how do you register, how much will it cost, how long the application take to process and are there any conditions? Also how to renew or transfer a premise registration and who to contact.

Do I need to register and what happens if I am not registered?

Unless you are registered under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 to operate as a cosmetic piercer, acupuncturist or electrolysist you are committing an offence.

Importantly, registrations are only valid for the area of the council in which they are made and granted.

If you fail to register, and continue to operate, you are liable for prosecution.

For further information

There are a number of websites where you can obtain further information and guidance on skin piercing.

Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (external website)

British Association of Beauty Therapy (external website)

British Institute and Association of Electrolysis (external website)

When do I need to register?

Applications for registration must be received and approved by the council prior to the business opening for the first time.

Any new business application should be for both:

  • your business premises, and
  • all those individuals operating at the business either as a tattooist, acupuncturist, cosmetic piercer or electrolysist.

Additionally, you should contact the council in circumstances when you need to tell us of changes to your existing registration.

For example, to register any new staff who are to be employed as either:

  • an acupuncturist
  • a cosmetic piercer
  • an electrolysist
  • a tattooist.

It is a criminal offence to carry out any of these procedures without being registered.

How do I register to operate a business as a tattooist, cosmetic piercer, acupuncturist or electrolysist?

You can apply for registration for both individuals and premises by one of the following means:

You are only required to provide the application form and fee with your application, no other documentation or plans are required.

How much will it cost?

The fee is a one-off cost which covers the application process and is non-refundable with fees reviewed annually on 1 April).

The current fees to accompany the application are as follows:

  • Ear piercing premises and business operator £145.00 plus additional individual £60.00
  • Ear piercing variation fee (individual) £40.00
  • Tattoo/skin piercing/acupuncture/electrolysis/micro-pigmentation premises £245.00
  • additional tattooist/skin piercing/acupuncture/electrolysis/micro-pigmentation £85.00 per person. For example, a premises with two tattooists the total fee would be £245 + £85.00 = £330
  • Tattooing event/conference £670.00
  • Tattoo hygiene re-rating request to visit premises £67.00
  • Tattoo/skin piercing/acupuncture/electrolysis/micro-pigmentation person or premises change of name £39
  • Lost or replacement licence £39.

Do I have to register both the premises and myself?

It is important to note that it is not only yourself and your staff, if they are employed to work as cosmetic piercer, acupuncturist or electrolysists, that have to be registered with the council but also the premises at which the procedure(s) is carried out.

How long will it take you to process my application?

There is no statutory period for determining registrations, however, we aim, within 28 days of receipt of a completed application, to carry out an inspection at the premises to ensure that the standards maintained are satisfactory.

You will be able to operate though if you have not heard from us by the end of this 28-day target completion period.

Are there any conditions to the registration?

Yes, registration certificates must be displayed in a conspicuous position in the premises.

If my application is refused, how do I appeal?

An application cannot be refused.

How long does the registration last and what is the renewal procedure?

You are not required to periodically renew your registration.

How can I transfer my premise registration to another person once it has been issued?

You are not able to transfer your registration. Any new individual must make a registration in their own right.

Will I have an inspection, and how do I prepare?

As part of the inspection you will need to provide, or provide evidence of the following:

  • Documentation including consent forms, before and after care information, training certificates and client records which includes:
    Name, address, date of birth, Proof of ID (if required), medical history check with client, body part treated, date of treatment, practitioner giving treatment)
  • The treatment room is fit for purpose i.e. the floors, sides, windows etc are all smooth, wipeable surfaces. And that there are no soft furnishings in the surrounding area of treatment. And generally, that room is clean and in good condition
  • Sharps bin for disposal is available/present.
  • Bin for clinical waste is available
  • Designated hand wash basin is available
  • Talk through procedures for cleaning client's skin
  • Talk through procedures for cleaning the room
  • PPE information
  • Equipment usage, storage, and retention
  • Where an autoclave is used, information on its usage
  • Treatment bed/couch usage, hygiene measures and cleaning.

Who do I contact?

To find out more, contact the Health, Safety and Licensing Team


By writing to:

Health, Safety and Licensing Team
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
County Hall
Cross Street
East Riding of Yorkshire
HU17 9BA.

Making a complaint

If you feel we have failed to provide you with good service or are concerned about the progress of your application please contact us and we will endeavour to resolve any concerns you may have. We also have a formal complaints procedure. The contact details are above.

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