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, any person carrying out any of the following activities are 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

Registration will depend on compliance with our byelaw:


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 both the person carrying out the skin piercing activity and the premises where the activity is to take place. A one-off fee is payable, to register the premises and one person; additional persons can be added for a supplementary fee. 

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


You'll be charged a fee of £90.00 to register your premises and one person. There is also a fee of £45.00 for each addition person being registered.  Please make sure you view our fees and charges for further information.

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.

When this content has been updated

Last updated 14 January 2016