Acupuncture licence

The Local Government Act 2003 requires persons carrying on the businesses of:

  • cosmetic piercing
  • electrolysis
  • acupuncture
  • semi-permanent skin colouring (including micro-pigmentation, semi-permanent make up and temporary tattooing)

to register themselves and their premises and to observe by-laws on hygiene and cleanliness.

This amendment brings these businesses under the same regulatory framework that already exists in the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 for acupuncture, tattooing, ear piercing and electrolysis.


The Act requires registration to cover both the person carrying on the practice and the premises used for that purpose. There are no powers to refuse registration, but the practice is controlled through compliance with by-laws in each case.

The applicant must ensure that the procedures, equipment and facilities used are safe, hygienic, prevent the spread of disease and comply fully with the general duty of care required by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It is illegal to conduct the following activities unless registration has been formally approved:

  • ear piercing
  • tattooing
  • acupuncture
  • electrolysis
  • cosmetic piercing or
  • semi-permanent skin colouring

To apply for this licence:

The completed form can be sent to Environmental Services, Unit 1, Newfields Business Park, 2 Stinsford Road, Poole, BH17 0NF.

The fees involved with these applications are:

  • premises: £67
  • per operator: £39

Inspection of premises

Once an application has been made and a fee has been paid, an inspector will undertake an inspection of the premises to check compliance with the following by-laws, as well as ensuring that general health and safety requirements are being met. The inspector will be pleased to offer any advice or give any help if you are unsure as to how to meet these obligations. 

By-law requirements

  • tables, couches, seats etc used in the treatment area must have a smooth, impervious surface which is regularly wiped down with disinfectant and covered by a disposable paper sheet, changed after each client.
  • all surfaces in any part of the premises used by clients must be kept clean and in good repair
  • all furniture and fittings in the treatment area must be kept clean and in good repair
  • a 'no smoking' sign must be prominently displayed
  • any overall worn by the operative should be clean and in good repair
  • the operative's hands and nails must be kept clean
  • any open cut, wound, sore or boil must be suitably covered by an impermeable dressing
  • the operative should not smoke nor drink in the treatment area
  • the operative should have sole use of the washing facilities which must provide hot and cold running water, soap (or a similar cleanser) and a nail brush


  • any needle, metal instrument or other item of equipment used in the treatment must be in a sterile condition and kept sterile until it is used
  • if pre-sterilised items are not used then adequate facilities must be provided for the purpose of sterilisation
  • if tattooing is being undertaken, all dyes used must be bacteriologically clean and inert 
  • the containers used to hold dyes for each customer must be disposed of at the end of each treatment or sterilised before re-use 


  • registration is only applicable to the specified operator at the specified premises.  Any change of operator must be notified to us where a change may be applied.  Certificates issued are only valid for the named operator
  • it is an offence to tattoo any person under the age of 18 years (the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969) 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
  • nipple and genital piercing is prohibited on minors, regardless of parental consent
  • the health of the client and the suitability of the treatment should be discussed prior to its administration
Page last updated: 08 February 2019
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