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Skin piercing and tattoos

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The following types of skin piercing need to be registered with the Council's Occupational Health and Safety Team. You can download a list of premises in Ipswich that are registered for each activity.



Cosmetic piercing


Semi-permanent skin colouring (make-up)

How to register

Both the person carrying out the procedure and the premises must be registered and you must comply with the Council's byelaws.

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 Act 1974.

It is illegal to conduct cosmetic piercing, tattooing, skin colouring, acupuncture or electrolysis unless the registration has been formally approved.

Registration is governed by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 Part VIII (amended by the Local Government Act 2003).

To register you must complete an application to register, pay a fee and pass an inspection. The current fee is £205.

Once an application has been made and the fee paid we will inspect your premises. If the inspector considers your procedures and the premises to be suitable, registration will be approved.

Once registered, you must let us know if anything changes at your premises and if new practitioners start you will need to amend your registration. If you need to make changes to your registration you must complete the application form again and pay a fee of £30. We will then issue you with a new registration certificate.

New Registration Scheme

The way we register skin piercing premises and practitioners is changing. This will be implemented early in 2020. For further information please click here.

Think before you ink!

Scratchers are tattooists that have not been registered or checked by the Council. They are operating illegally. They usually work at home and are more likely to use poor quality equipment and inks, re-use instruments without adequate cleaning and sterilisation and may not follow rigorous hygiene controls. They may not ask questions about your health and may not tell you how to care for your tattoo.

If you use a scratcher you are at higher risk of contracting a blood-borne virus such as Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C or HIV which can seriously affect your long-term health. You may also be at risk of serious skin infections and the quality of the tattoo may be poor.

For further information or to report a ‘Scratcher’ please contact our Health & Safety Team using the contact details provided on this page.

Contact Details

Environmental Health,
Ipswich Borough Council,
3W Grafton House,
15-17 Russell Road,

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01473 433115