Register to Operate as a Skin Piercer

Acupuncture, Tattooing, Cosmetic Piercing, Electrolysis and Semi Permanent Skin Colouring

Anyone wishing to carry out "skin piercing"- acupuncture, tattooing, cosmetic ear or body piercing, semi-permanent skin colouring, semi-permanent makeup or electrolysis - must register both the premises where the piercing is to be done, and each person who wants to perform the piercing (practitioner) with their local authority.

It is illegal to conduct any of the above activities unless the registration has been formally approved and a certificate of registration (licence) has been issued.

An application fee is payable at the time of first registration for the premises and practitioner. Further application and a supplementary fee are required to register different persons on your existing registration. Please note that the cost of registration is subject to annual review.

Application Process

Practice is controlled through compliance with local authority byelaws. A copy of the byelaws can be found here - Skin Piercing Byelaws. Please make sure you can comply with the byelaws before an application is submitted. In each case, the premises and equipment will be inspected to ensure they are suitable, that good hygiene is followed, and sensible after-care instructions are given so as to minimise the health risks to customers.

Registration covers each person at the registered address only. Should they conduct any skin piercing activities at other premises, they will need to register themselves at that premises also and pay the required fee.

Upon receipt of the completed application form and fee, a visit will be arranged by an officer from Environmental Health, to ensure that the conditions specified in the skin piercing byelaws are met. If the officer is satisfied, a certificate of registration will be issued.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted.

Application and payment 

Tattooing of Minors and Consent

The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 makes it illegal to tattoo any person under the age of 18 years (regardless of parental consent).

A person under the age of 18 years may receive body piercing provided that you have received written permission from, or the treatment is performed in the presence of, the person's parent or guardian.

Children under the age of 16 are not able to consent lawfully to genital or nipple piercing as it is considered to be regarded as indecent assault under sexual offences legislation.

Further Information and Advice

This guidance contains best practice and template forms for skin piercers and we would strongly recommend that practitioners have regard to it - CIEH tattooist and skin piercers toolkit (external)

If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period or would like further advice, please contact a member of the Food and Safety Team on 01695 577177 or email 

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