Tattooists, piercing and electrolysis licences

Tattooists, piercing and electrolysis

There are hazards associated with skin piercing activities, including bacterial infection and the transmission of blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B / C and HIV.

Both businesses and individuals practicing piercing, tattooing, acupuncture, electrolysis and semi-permanent skin colouring must therefore be registered with us under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (link opens in new window).

The Local Government Act 2003 (link opens in new window) amended the 1982 Act to include cosmetic piercing (piercing of any part of the body, including the ear) and semi-permanent skin-colouring as activities requiring registration.

Registration is dependent on compliance with the by-laws for the regulation of acupuncture, tattooing, semi-permanent skin colouring, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis, which require, amongst other things, cleanliness of the premises, sterility of equipment such as needles, and hygiene of the piercer.

There is a one-off charge for registration of the premises, which covers where the skin-piercing activity takes place.

The person undertaking the piercing will also need a personal registration issued by us. This will allow them to work elsewhere in the area.


You do not need to register when skin piercing is carried out by, or under the supervision of, a registered medical practitioner (or, in the case of acupuncture only, a dentist).

We do not class the injection of Botox and cosmetic filler implants as skin piercing activities. Botox is a prescription only medicine. Doctors or Nurses (under Doctor's supervision) can only administer Botox to a patient.

Hair removal by the use of Class 3B and 4 lasers and / or intense pulsed light sources require registration with the Care Quality Commission, who can be emailed at

There is a one-off charge for registration of premises, and the person undertaking the work will need a personal registration issued by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Type of registration and fees

Fees for registration are one-time only, and do not require renewal.

Premises registration: £157

Personal registration: £148

Personal registration for applicants who can show they are members of certain professional bodies: £47

How to apply

All applicants are advised to read the CIEH Tattooing and Body Piercing Toolkit (link opens in new window).

You can apply online for a premise registration or a personal registration (link opens in new window).

What happens next?

After you submit your application, we contact you within 5 working days. We carry out inspections to ensure your premises meet the required standards.

The registration should be displayed in a prominent position on the premises where the activities take place.

Tacit consent

Your registration will be issued within 20 working days.

Tacit consent does not apply for this registration. You must not assume that your registration is granted if you have not heard from us

Age of consent for cosmetic piercing

There is no statutory age of consent for cosmetic piercing. Cosmetic piercing of a minor is lawful provided that they are sufficiently mature to understand the nature of the request. If piercers are willing to treat minors, the presence of a parent or guardian is strongly recommended during any such procedure.

A statutory minimum age of consent for tattooing (18 years of age) is specified in the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 (link opens in new window).

Appeals and complaints

If you have a complaint about our service, you can write to:

The Service Manager
Public Protection
Central Bedfordshire Council
Priory House
Monks Walk
SG17 5TQ

Alternatively, you can email the Service Manager at

Back to the top