Acupuncture, skin piercing, electrolysis and tattooing

 Environmental Health registers people who practice acupuncture or who run a business offering tattooing, semi-permanent skin colouring, electrolysis, or cosmetic piercing including ear piercing.

Two types of registration are required:

  1. Each person who practices acupuncture, or who runs a business offering tattooing, semi-permanent skin colouring, cosmetic piercing (including ear piercing), or electrolysis.
  2. Each premises where these activities are undertaken.
  • If you are a registered medical practitioner, or operate under the direct supervision of a registered medical practitioner, then you do not need to register.
  • Individual employees of a business do not need to be registered, except for acupuncture in which case every acupuncturist needs to be registered.
  • If you are self-employed you will need to register. Mobile practitioners still need to register themselves at their home address.
  • Southampton City Council has adopted byelaws for acupuncture, tattooing, semi-permanent tattooing, cosmetic piercing & electrolysis to ensure good standards of cleanliness and hygienic practice.

Apply for a licence

Application for a licence to carry out acupuncture, tattooing, piercing and/or electrolysis

Application to change a tattooists, piercing and electrolysis licence


The fees are currently £145.00 for the premises and £82.00 for each practitioner.

If you only pierce ears, then there are reduced fees of £82.00 for the premises and £47.50 for each practitioner.

These fees are payable on registration only; no renewal is required.

If you or the premises concerned are already registered with Southampton City Council, but there has been a change for example a self-employed practitioner has moved to new premises, then you will not need to pay an additional fee for that element. Please email if you wish to confirm the fee you need to pay.

We will process your application and will normally send you a registration certificate and receipt for your payment within 15 working days. In the event that we are unable to send these within this timescale we will contact you to explain the reason for the delay.

Inspectors are likely to make a site visit to new premises and speak to new practitioners to check hygiene standards and practices. This will be carried out before the registration certificate is released.

Tacit consent will not apply. It is in the public interest that Southampton City Council must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online here if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details below.


If you are not satisfied with the process for registering people who practice acupuncture or who run a business offering tattooing, semi-permanent skin colouring, electrolysis or cosmetic piercing including ear piercing, please contact:

Consumer Protection and Environmental Services
Southampton City Council
Civic Centre
Southampton SO14 7LY