Tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence (England and Wales)

Apply for this licence

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You need to contact the local council where your premises are based to get a tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence.

This licence covers:

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

You must register both yourself and your premises with the local council.

Greater London

In Greater London (except for the City of London), you must get a Special Treatments Licence from your council instead. As well as the activities listed above, this also includes:

  • massages
  • manicures
  • chiropody
  • saunas

If you apply by post or in person you must send a copy of your application to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. You do not need to do this if you apply online.


You can only work in the premises where you’re licensed.

You must follow any local byelaws relating to staff hygiene and the safety and cleanliness of your premises, furniture and equipment. Your premises will usually be inspected before you get your licence.

How to apply

You must provide details about yourself and your premises, as well as pay a one-off registration fee. These are set by the council and vary from area to area.

If approved, you will get a certificate of registration (or licence).

Registration usually lasts as long as you intend to work in the premises. If your circumstances change, you may need to reapply. This may include:

  • moving your business
  • another person running a business from your premises
  • offering additional services which need registration

In London, you need to renew your licence regularly. This varies from area to area and can be every 18 months.

Contact your local council to find out when you must renew your licence. You will have to pay a renewal fee.

Displaying your licence

You must display a copy of your certificate (or licence) and any byelaws in a prominent place on your premises. If you fail to do so you could be fined.