Tattooing, piercing and electrolysis

Last Updated: 11 October 2022

Premises where any of the following activities take place must be registered with us:

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

Self-employed practitioners carrying out any of these activities within South Lakeland must also register with our Licensing team.

How to register for a licence

To register you will need to fill in the cosmetic piercing, tattooing, electrolysis, acupuncture and semi permanent skin colouring application form (PDF 24KB / 2 pages).


Both the operator (the person giving the treatment) and the business premises must be separately registered with us.

One application will cover both registrations where the applicant is both the proprietor of the premises and operator.

Cosmetic piercing, tattooing, electrolysis and semi permanent skin colouring

You are required to apply for a personal registration and must be associated with a premises that is registered.

Return the application form to the licensing group, along with the correct fee:

Existing fees (2022/23):

  • skin piercing and miscellaneous, acupuncture, tattooing & electrolysis, premises registration: £156.69
  • skin piercing and miscellaneous, acupuncture, tattooing & electrolysis, personal registration: £164.36

Once we have received the application, it will be passed on to a health and safety officer and they will contact you to arrange an inspection. They will decide whether to approve registration.

You must ensure that the procedures, equipment and facilities used are:

  • safe
  • hygienic
  • prevent the spread of disease
  • follow general health and safety rules

There are no powers to refuse registration, however, the practice is controlled through compliance with the cosmetic byelaws (PDF 1.6MB / 6 pages).

The Officer will check that you are meeting the requirements of the Byelaws, and the Health and Safety Regulations.

Health and Safety Guidance (PDF 2.84MB / 66 pages) is available from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Once the inspection has taken place, you will be able to provide treatment in any business premises registered for that purpose in the district.

Byelaw requirements

All tattooing, piercing, electrolysis and acupuncture practitioners within South Lakeland must adhere to the following byelaw requirements.


  • 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
  • tables, couches, seats 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. This must be changed after each client
  • a 'No Smoking' sign must be prominently displayed

Cleanliness of operatives

  • 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 or 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
  • in tattooing, 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


  • 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