Acupuncture, tattoo, piercing or electrolysis registration

Licence name
Acupuncture, tattoo, piercing or electrolysis registration

You need to register with us if you want to carry out activities which pierce the skin. It's against the law for you to carry out these activities without registration from us.

Do I need to register my business?

You'll need to register with us if you carry out any of the following activities or use your premises for any of the following types of activities. This includes nurses, dental nurses and physiotherapists.

  • Acupuncture
  • Tattooing
  • Semi-permanent skin colouring
  • Micro blading
  • Microneedling
  • Cosmetic skin piercing (nose, ear and body)
  • Scalp pigmentation
  • Electrolysis
  • Wet cupping

Please note: we do not accept applications to register for extreme activities such as eyeball tinting, extraocular implants, corneal implants or ashes in the tattoo ink.


You cannot carry out mobile skin piercing treatments. We do not allow businesses to register for mobile treatments which involve travelling between clients' homes.

This is because these treatments cannot be provided safely and in accordance with legal requirements within a domestic environment.

How to apply
  1. Complete the online application form. Either the owner or the operator of the premises can complete the online form.
  2. If you wish to operate from multiple business premises, you need to complete a separate application form for each premises.
  3. Once we've received the form, we'll ring you so you can pay the registration fee by credit or debit card. If you don't hear from us within 14 days, please contact us using the details on this page.
  4. When your payment has been processed, we'll arrange a suitable time to inspect your premises to check you meet all the conditions below. If our visit shows you meet all the conditions, we'll register you for that activity.

Apply for acupuncture, tattoo, piercing or electrolysis registration online

How much it will cost

The cost of Acupuncture, tattoo, piercing or electrolysis registration is £195.

The fee is for each person you want to register and for each activity you want to register for.

Conditions to meet

Our inspector will check that:

  1. Your premises meet general health and safety requirements. View the healthy and safety basics on Health and Safety Executive
  2. Your premises meet the following conditions:
    • There's a wash hand basin in the treatment room and access to another sink for cleaning. The second sink can be located in the communal kitchen within the business but must not be the toilet sink.
    • All surfaces in any part of the premises used by clients are kept clean and in good condition.
    • All furniture and fittings in the treatment area are kept clean and in good condition.
    • Table, sofas, seats and other items of furniture used in the treatment area have a smooth, impervious surface which is regularly wiped down with disinfectant and covered by a disposable paper sheet. This should be changed after each customer.
    • A 'no smoking' sign is clearly displayed.
  3. Your staff meet the following conditions:
    • Any overalls worn by staff are clean and in good condition.
    • Hands and nails of staff are kept clean.
    • Any open cuts, wounds, sores or boils are suitably covered by a waterproof dressing.
    • Staff aren't smoking or drinking in treatment area.
    • Staff have sole use of washing facilities that provide hot and cold running water, soap and a nail brush.
  4. Your equipment meet the following conditions:
    • Any needle, metal instrument or item of equipment you use in treatment are in a sterile condition and kept sterile until they're used.
    • If you don't use pre-sterilised items then you need to have adequate facilities to sterilise items.
  5. You have the following documents for the officer to check:
    • Consent form
    • Medical consultation form
    • Aftercare form
    • Cleaning schedule
    • Copy of waste agreement- sharps and clinical waste
    • Copy of insurance

The treatment room must contain 2 sinks – these sinks can be directly plumbed to the boiler or they can be mobile sink units that can be purchased online through numerous retailers. The use of a domestic kitchen sink or toilet sink is not accepted.

If you need guidance to meet these conditions, you can read the Public Health England tattooing and body piercing guidance. You can also contact us for advice or help.

Does tacit consent apply?

No, we must process your application before it can be granted.

Validity and renewals

Your registration will last for as long as you work in this area and will cover you and the premises you work in.

If you wish to trade at multiple premises, you need to complete a separate application form for each.

Appeals, complaints and redress

If your application is unsuccessful, please contact us in the first instance using the contact details provided on this page.

If you disagree with our decision, you can appeal to your local magistrates' court.  

Additional information

How can I report an unregistered tattoo artist?

A scratcher is someone who isn't registered to tattoo and may be doing so from unregistered premises. This is illegal and presents a serious risk of infection.

To report a scratcher, please complete the online form.​

Report an unregistered tattoo artist

Tattoo hygiene rating scheme

The tattoo hygiene rating scheme stopped running in July 2019.

Advice for getting a tattoo

If you're considering getting a tattoo, you may benefit from the following advice.

  • Take your time to choose the design for your tattoo. Before booking yourself in, take some time to make sure you know you really do want to get this tattoo.
  • Only use a tattoo shop registered with the local authority as their premises have been inspected and shown to be a good standard. If you're not sure whether a tattoo shop in the borough is registered, you can contact us using the details on this page.
  • Research the tattoo shop where you're thinking of having your tattoo done. You can read online reviews and visit the shop in person. Make sure you're happy with the premises and you feel comfortable in the tattoo shop.
  • Find the right artist for you. Every artist in a tattoo shop should have a portfolio of their work so you can see if their style matches what you're looking for.
  • After care is critical. Make sure you get information from the tattooist on how best to look after it to avoid getting an infection.

Watch 'things to know before getting a tattoo' video - created by the NHS, this video gives more information on how to get a tattoo safely.

Contact us