Massage and special treatments

You will need to apply for a licence if you own or manage premises offering special treatments. This is under the London Local Authorities Act 1991.

These treatments include:

  • body piercing, for example body/facial/genital, ear piercing, beading, micro-dermal anchors
  • skin piercing, for example acupuncture, dry needling, Korean hand therapy
  • laser, for example intense pulsed light (IPL), laser, lipolaser
  • tattooing including micro-blading and micropigmentation
  • light treatments, for example colour therapy, infra-red, ultra violet sunbeds
  • nail treatments, for example manicure, pedicure, nail extensions
  • massage treatments, for example aromatherapy, body massage, reflexology
  • bath/vapour, for example floatation tank, hydrotherapy, sauna, spa, steam
  • electric treatments, for example electrolysis, faradism, galvanism, high frequency
  • other beauty treatments


There are some exemptions that mean you don't have to have a licence. 

The exemptions are:

  • if no premises are used
    • for example, a fully mobile service from a vehicle or in clients' own homes
  • if treatments carried out by or under the supervision of medical practitioners, dentists (acupuncture), and professions supplementary to medicine in a hospital or nursing home
  • if treatments are carried out by someone who is a member of a body of health practitioners approved for exemption by this Council

Even if you don't need a licence, all businesses must still comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 and other relevant regulations.


Licence holders are required to ensure that everyone providing special treatments are suitably qualified and/or trained to carry out those treatments. You must keep records of the qualifications and training on site.

The Council provides guidance which details acceptable qualifications and training.

How to apply

Read the special treatment establishment licence guidance to find out more about the type of licence you should apply for.

The guidance document will also assist you with completing the application form. It outlines what supporting documents you will need to provide as part of your application.

Download the application form

Post your completed form to:

Licensing Team
London Borough of Sutton
Civic Offices
St Nicholas Way

You should keep a copy of your completed form for your own records.

You can find the costs of special treatment licences on our fees page.

You can pay online or over the phone by calling 020 8770 5000.


Each licence will be subject to our standard conditions for special treatment premises. There are additional conditions depending on the treatments that you wish to provide.

You must make sure that you can comply with all relevant conditions before you make an application. A licence will generally not be granted unless you can prove that you are able to operate in line with the conditions.

You can find general information about health and safety at work and health and safety in nail bars on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.


Once we receive your application and accompanying documents, there is a consultation period of 28 days.

We will pass your application to the Council's planning department, the Police and the Fire Brigade. These bodies have the opportunity to raise concerns with or object to your application.

You're not allowed to provide any licensable treatments during the consultation period. 


Before a licence is issued, a Licensing Officer will visit your premises and ensure that you are able to comply with the relevant conditions that would be applied to the licence.

You will also have to provide documentation to prove that the electrical installation and portable appliances at the premises are safe for use. 

What happens next

If no objections to the application are received, the application will be granted at the end of the 28 day consultation period.

If any problems are identified during the inspection of the premises, the licence will only be granted once these problems have been addressed. You must be able to comply fully with the Council's standard conditions for special treatment premises.

Refusal of licence

If we propose to refuse an application, you will be asked to submit a representation about your proposal.

This representation will be considered by the Council's Licensing Sub Committee who will make the final decision on whether or not to grant the licence.

Duration of licence

Special treatment licences last for 12 months. You must apply to renew your licence at least 6 weeks before it is due to expire.

You can apply to renew your licence by:

Information on how to make the required payment is included on the form.

Vary or transfer your licence

If you wish to add new treatments to your licence, you will need to apply to vary your existing special treatment licence. You will need to complete the variation form and pay the correct fee.

You can add treatments in the same or a lower risk category by varying the licence. However, if you wish to add treatments in a higher risk class, you will need to make a new application.

If you sell or leave your premises, the new owner can apply to transfer the special treatment licence if they wish to continue to offer licensable treatments.

The new owner must:


If you have a concern or complaint about a special treatment premises, or you believe that a premises is unlicensed, contact the Licensing Team.