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Tattooists, piercing and electrolysis

There are a number of hazards associated with skin piercing activities, including bacterial infection and the transmission of blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B/C and HIV.

Because of this, a person carrying out the practice/business of any of the following activities is required to register with us.

  • Cosmetic piercing (i.e. piercing of any part of the body, including the ear)
  • Semi-permanent skin-colouring (i.e. micropigmentation, semi-permanent make-up and temporary tattooing (not henna tattooing))
  • Electrolysis
  • Acupuncture
  • Tattooing

Premises where these activities are carried out also require registration.

Registration will depend on compliance with our byelaws:


Registration is not required when skin piercing is carried out by, or under the supervision of, a person who is registered as a medical practitioner (or, in the case of acupuncture only, a dentist).

Age of consent for piercing and tattooing

There is no statutory age of consent for cosmetic piercing. Cosmetic piercing of a minor is lawful provided that they are sufficiently mature to understand the nature of the request. If piercers are willing to treat minors, the presence of a parent or guardian is strongly recommended during any such procedure.

A statutory minimum age of consent for tattooing (18 years of age) is specified in the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969.

The Registration Process

Registration is required for the person carrying out the skin piercing activity and the premises where the activity is to take place. A person registered with Exeter City Council to carry out one or more particular skin piercing activities may do so only at premises within Exeter that are also registered for those activities; however, a registered skin piercer is allowed to make occasional visits to the home of a client to carry out those activities at their request.

Please complete the application form and return it to Environmental Health and Licensing, Exeter City Council, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 1RQ


You'll be charged a one off fee of £95.00 to register your premises and/or £45.00 for each personal registration issued.

Related documents

What's next

When we receive your completed application form and fee, a visit will be made by one of our officers to check that the conditions specified in the skin piercing byelaws are met. If the officer is satisfied, a certificate of registration will be issued. This should be displayed in a prominent position on the premises where the activities take place. A visit is not usually necessary if you’re applying for a personal registration to practice skin piercing at a premises already registered for that activity.


When this content has been updated

Last updated 1 April 2019