Massages and special treatments

All premises offering massage and other special treatments must apply for a licence before they commence trading. It is an offence to operate without a licence.

Woman receiving a manicure
What you need to know

The following treatments would require a licence:

  • acupuncture
  • body piercing
  • chiropody
  • cosmetic piercing
  • electrolysis
  • facial treatments
  • massage treatments, aromatherapy and reflexology
  • nail treatments
  • non-surgical lasers and intense light source systems
  • saunas and steam rooms
  • spa pools
  • tattooing
  • ultra violet light treatments
  • other treatments of a like kind to those listed above.

There are guidance notes and codes of practice available to download on our website

There are a  number of organisations do not require a licence (PDF) [60KB]. In certain circumstances, we may grant an exemption to a business or individual therapist from the requirement to have a licence when the therapists or practitioners are members of specific professional bodies.

  • premises not used for gain or reward
  • certain exemptions for medical practitioners, dentists and professions supplementary to medicine (nurses) hospitals and nursing homes
  • applicant membership of an approved body of health practitioners
  • registered osteopaths under the Osteopaths Act 1993
  • registered chiropractors under the Chiropractors Act 1994
  • state registered chiropodists/podiatrists
  • state registered physiotherapists
If you feel you may be exempt from licensing, you will need to supply us with a copy of the membership certificate for your particular professional body and proof of identity. This will enable the us to establish your exemption status. If you are exempt, we will issue a registration of exemption from licensing.

Your application may be refused for one of the following reasons:

  • the premises are not suitable
  • there is a likelihood of nuisance being caused in the area
  • the person who will manage the premises is not fit and proper (**what does this mean?)
  • the people giving the treatments are not suitably qualified
  • the safety of equipment is not satisfactory
  • there is question as to the safety of the treatment being given
  • you have been convicted of particular offences
  • you fail to comply with any legal requirements

Before you make an application, you may check with us that your qualifications meets the licensing requirements by emailing them to

We thoroughly check the adequacy and authenticity of any practitioner's qualifications submitted in support of a licence application. Any practitioner without appropriate qualifications or experience may not be licensed to administer special treatments. 

We may require you to take further qualifications in line with industry guidance.

A photocopy of qualification certificates must be submitted with applications.

Please note: We cannot take responsibility for loss or damage to any certificates posted to us.


Licence categoryLicence typeFee
Category ALaser and IPL treatments, tattooing, body piercing, microblading, micropigmentation£1118
Category BElectrolysis, electrical treatments, sauna/steam room, spa pools, acupuncture, cartilage piercing, sun beds£608.80
Category CArtificial nails, facial, as, massage/aromatherapy, reflexology£372.70
Category DManicure/pedicure, ear, lobe and nose piercing£157

Fees automatically cover one practitioner/therapist. There is a £68.30 additional fee for each additional practitioner/therapist.

Applying for a licence

You must submit the application at least 35 days either before you start operating or the licence is due for renewal.

Please enclose copies of certificates for all staff for any new applications and any new members of staff for renewal applications.

This renewable licence will generally last for 12 months.

It may sometimes be necessary to grant licences for longer or shorter periods (up to the statutory maximum of 18 months) to bring premises into the right renewal period.

Apply to licence a premises

Apply to change a licence

Apply to renew a licence

Page last updated: 20 Jul 2023