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Registration of skin piercing businesses

The following practices must first be registered with the Council:

  • Tattooing
  • Cosmetic-piercing (including ear-piercing)
  • Electrolysis
  • Micropigmentation/semi permanent makeup
  • Acupuncture

Registration is required for both the person carrying out the activity and the premises used for that purpose unless being carried out by a registered medical practitioner such as a doctor. There is similar exemption for dentists in respect of acupuncture.

Applicants must supply the Council with information on how the practices will be carried out hygienically and safely.

Procedures, equipment and facilities used must be safe, hygienic, prevent the spread of disease and comply fully with the general duties of care required by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

There are no powers to refuse registration but the practice is controlled through compliance with byelaws. A court may suspend or cancel the registration of a person who is found guilty of contravening a relevant byelaw.

Any person carrying out any of these activities without being registered may be prosecuted.

How to register

Registration fees 

A one-off registration fee is payable for personal registrations. Premises registrations are only applicable to the address used at registration. If the business moves, this will require a new premises registration.

The current registration fees are:

  • Registration of premises: £253
  • Registration of person: £150
Register a skin piercing business in the East Suffolk area
Online skin piercing business registration form

An inspection of the premises will be carried out to check compliance with the byelaw requirements as well as ensuring that general health and safety requirements are being met.

Regulation summary

The skin piercing byelaws for the former Suffolk Coastal and Waveney districts continue to apply for the East Suffolk area. These byelaws will be reviewed during 2019, resulting in a single set of byelaws.

Byelaws regarding acupuncture, tattooing, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis in the East Suffolk area
Suffolk Coastal byelaws regarding acupuncture, tattooing, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis Waveney byelaws regarding acupuncture, tattooing, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis

Other legislation

  • It is an offence to tattoo any person under the age of 18 years (Tattooing of Minors Act 1969) regardless of parental consent.
  • A person under the age of 18 years may receive body piercing provided they 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.

Eligibility criteria

You must provide specific information including details of your premises and any previous convictions for practicing without a licence in this field.

Application evaluation process

No provision in legislation.

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest for reasons of public health that the authority must process your application before it can be granted (completion period 28 days). If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details on this page.

Failed application redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

Licence holder redress

Please contact us in the first instance. If a registration is suspended or cancelled the registration holder may appeal to the county court.

Consumer complaints

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, you can find out about consumer rights at www.gov.uk/consumer-protection-rights.

From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

Trade associations

Additional information

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) convened a multi-agency working group to develop guidance following concerns raised by tattoo and body piercing practitioners, as well as health protection and environmental health specialists, about the lack of robust and consistent guidance on standards of hygiene and safety in the industry. The group comprised representatives from the CIEH, the Health and Safety Laboratory, Public Health England, the Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union and individuals with practical experience of working in this area.