Skin piercing and tattoos

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Certain, specified, skin piercing activities are required to be registered by the Council. These activities are:  Acupuncture (including dry needling); Cosmetic piercing; Electrolysis; Tattooing; and Semi-permanent skin colouring (make-up). The latter includes the insertion of any pigment into the skin so would include treatments such as BB Glow which is microneedling with the insertion of pigment. (Microneedling by itself is not registerable). Below are lists of premises in Ipswich that have been registered for these activities by the Council's Occupational Health & Safety Team.

Registered premises



Cosmetic piercing


Semi-permanent skin colouring (make-up)

How to register

Both the premises where the procedure is to be undertaken and the person (practitioner) undertaking the procedure must be registered. Separate applications and fees will need to be completed and paid for. Separate certificates for ‘premises’ and ‘practitioners’ will be issued upon successful application.

Once a practitioner is registered they will be able to work at any premises within the Borough of Ipswich that is registered for that activity, without having to amend their registration, so long as they display their certificate where they are working. Any permanent move to new premises should be notified to us.

Registration is governed by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 Part VIII (as amended by the Local Government Act 2003). It is illegal to conduct cosmetic piercing, tattooing, skin colouring (permanent make-up), acupuncture or electrolysis unless the registration has been formally approved.

You must ensure that you are compliant with the Council’s byelaws. If you are carrying out tattooing, cosmetic piercing or skin colouring you should also familiarise yourself with the tattooing and body piercing guidance toolkit.

The applicant must ensure that the procedures, equipment and facilities used are safe, hygienic, prevent the spread of infection and comply fully with the general duty of care required by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. All practitioners are advised to undertake some form of infection control training.

To register you must complete an online application, pay a fee and pass an inspection. A table with the current fee structure can be found below. Once an application has been made and the fee paid an inspection will be carried out. If the inspector considers your procedures and premises suitable, registration will be approved and certificates issued which must be displayed on site with a copy of the Council byelaws.

If you are unsure whether you need to register an activity please don't hesitate to contact us.

Register online now

Temporary registration

Sometimes businesses wish to employ practitioners from outside of the Borough on a short-term basis e.g. guest tattoo artist. These practitioners must also be registered to be operating legally. However, instead of paying full fees, they can apply for temporary registration at a reduced fee so long as they are working for less than 30 consecutive days.

Table of fees

Registration of new skin piercing premises £224
Registration of new skin piercing practitioners £90
Registration of new skin piercing practitioners (ear and nose piercing only) £44
Premises Variation (to add an activity or change ownership details)£90
Practitioner variation (to add an activity)£44
Temporary/Guest registration of a practitioner£33
Replacement or duplicate registration certificate£28

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 but they may travel to other premises and offer 'tattoo parties.'  They 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 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. If reporting a scratcher please provide as much information as you can including name and address details so that we can effectively investigate these illegal practices.

Non-Surgical Cosmetic Treatments

We're often asked whether we register/licence other cosmetic treatments which may, or may not, pierce the skin. These include the following but is not an exhaustive list: Dermal fillers; botulinum toxin injections; vitamin injections; microneedling; mesotherapy; platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP); laser therapies; thread lifting procedures; cyotherapy/cryocautery; and chemical peels.

These therapies are currently not registerable or licensable by this Authority though they may be elsewhere in the country eg London. However, the Government is currently consulting on introducing a licensing scheme for these and other treatments. This may restrict who can practise certain treatments and will specify the training and qualification requirements and the bodies that are able to provide/approve training.  Further updates on the introduction of a licensing scheme will be published on the GOV.UK website.

In the meantime, practitioners should ensure that they are competent to carry out the treatments by ensuring that they attend reputable training courses and that they have the necessary experience and knowledge to undertake the treatments safely. They should research the potential contraindications of treatments to ensure that they are confident that it can be provided safely.

The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) operates an approved list of training providers and practitioners.  You can find out the criteria for approval by searching on their website Home - JCCP

For laser and IPL treatments you are advised to following the BMLA (British Medical Laser Association) guidance BMLA Essential-Standards-May-2017.pdf

Contact Details

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