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.

The Local Government Act 2003 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.

How to apply

Apply for personal registration

Apply for premises registration


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

Fee: £205.60

Pay for premises registration

Operative registration

Fee: £138.20

Pay for operative registration

Operative member of an accredited professional body

Fee: £61.60

Pay for professional body operative registration

Accredited professional bodies are:

  • British Acupuncture Council
  • The British Medical Acupuncture Society
  • The Acupuncture Society
  • Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture UK
  • The Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
  • British Institute and Association of Electrolysis
  • British Acupuncture Federation

What happens once you've applied?

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.

Fines and penalties

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you run a skin piercing premises without being registered.

Useful information

Prior to making an application it is strongly recommended that you read the information below to ensure that you can meet the requirements.

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