Special treatment establishment licences

Under the London Local Authorities Act 1991 a licence is required when you provide or offer special treatments commercially from premises situated in the London Borough of Wandsworth.

Special treatments

Special treatments include, but are not limited to:

  • Tattooing, including micropigmentation
  • Piercing including ear piercing
  • Treatments such as acupuncture, red vein treatment, wart or skin tag removal  by electrolysis, semi permanent makeup
  • Massage treatments including aromatherapy and reflexology
  • Electrical treatments such as hair removal by electrolysis and galvanic/faradic treatments
  • Nail treatments including manicure and pedicure
  • Light treatments such as sunbeds, lasers, intense pulse light treatments
  • Sauna, steam, spa–pools or other baths

If your treatment is not listed it may still be licensable. More detailed information on licensable special treatments can be found in our guidance  A-Z of treatments.

About a premises licence

A premises licence is issued in respect of specific premises and specifies the categories of treatments that can be carried out on the premises.

A premise licence is:

  • Valid for one year, unless revoked
  • An application must be made annually to renew the licence before the date of expiry of the existing licence, otherwise a new application will need to be submitted
  • A licence may be varied
  • A licence may be transferred to a new licence holder but not to a new premises
  • An application for a new licence, the renewal of a licence, the transfer or variation of a licence must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.

A fee is payable for the grant, renewal, variation and transfer of a licence.

You do not need a licence if you only carry out treatments in a client's own home provided the treatments are given only to the client.

Exemptions under the Act

The law allows certain exemptions from the need for a licence. These are:

  • Any premises which are not used for gain or reward.
  • Any premises where the special treatment is carried out by or under the supervision of:

i) A medical practitioner registered by the General Medical Council, or
ii) Any bona fide member of a body of health practitioners approved by the Council,
iii) In the case of acupuncture, a dentist registered under the Dentists Act 1984,
iv) In the case of osteopathy, a person registered as a fully registered osteopath or a conditionally registered osteopath under the Osteopaths Act 1993,
v) In the case of chiropractic, a person registered as a fully registered chiropractor or a conditionally registered chiropractor under the Chiropractors Act 1994,

  • Any premises used by a person who is registered under the Health Professions Order 2001 solely for the practice of the profession in respect of which he is so registered and of the conduct by him of any business ancillary to such practice and no other purpose.
  • Any public hospital.
  • Any nursing home.
  • Any premises where the only special treatment carried out is of a class which from time to time is by resolution of the borough council excluded from the definition of a special treatment.

The legislation does not list bodies of health practitioners. Each body needs to apply to the borough where they want their members to be exempted.

Health bodies who have applied to the London Borough of Wandsworth, and whose members have been granted an exemption are included on the agreed list of exempted bodies. If your body does not appear on the list, or you are offering treatments not covered by the body, then you will need to be licensed. If your body wishes to apply for an exemption, please contact the licensing team by email at licensing@merton.gov.uk.

Therapist registration

Prior to 2015 all therapists working in the borough had to be approved and registered by the Council. This therapist registration scheme ended on 1 August 2015. It is now the responsibility of licence holders to ensure that all persons providing special treatments are suitably qualified and/or trained to carry out those treatments. Adequate records of the qualifications and training must be kept on site.

The Council has produced guidance on acceptable qualifications and training for therapists. This is not an exhaustive list but is produced for your assistance.

Objecting to a licence or raising concerns about a special treatment establishment

Residents, businesses and legal authorities (including the police, fire brigade and licensing officers) are able to object to a new application or the renewal, transfer or variation of a licence. We will also investigate complaints relating to licensed and unlicensed premises in accordance with our complaints procedure.

Categories of treatments

We have grouped licensable treatments into 8 groups and these will be specified on your licence when issued, rather than the specific treatments that you wish to carry out. The categories are:

  • Group 1 - Tattooing, cosmetic piercing (except ear piercing - lobe only), laser/intense pulse light treatments, micropigmentation;
  • Group 2 - Other treatments involving the breaking of skin e.g. acupuncture, red vein treatment, wart or skin tag removal  by electrolysis;
  • Group 3 - Massage treatments (including aromatherapy, reflexology)
  • Group 4 - Beauty treatments (including hair removal by electrolysis, galvanic/faradic treatments)
  • Group 5 - Nail treatments (acrylic), e.g. nail extensions
  • Group 6 - Nail treatments e.g manicure and pedicure
  • Group 7 - Sauna, steam, spa –pools, sun beds
  • Group 8 - Ear piercing (lobe only), nose piercing (nostril only)

Conditions attached to a premises licence

All special treatment licences are granted, renewed, transferred or varied, subject to our standard conditions. The regulations allow for the removal or variation of any standard conditions adopted by us. A request to remove or vary a standard condition can form part of an application for a new licence or via a variation application.  

A licence may also be granted subject to particular conditions that apply only to that licence and these will be set out on the licence itself.

Tattooing of Minors Act 1969

Under the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969, it is an offence to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 except for medical reasons carried out by a duly qualified medical practitioner.

Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010

The Act was introduced in recognition of the fact that young people are at greater risk of developing skin cancer from over-exposure to UV rays. A person who has a sunbed business is legally required to prevent sunbed use by children.

Under the Act a person who carries on a sunbed business in premises they occupy, manage or have control over (referred to as 'relevant premises') must make sure that:

  • No-one under the age of 18 uses a sunbed on relevant premises to which the business relates
  • No offer is made by, or on behalf of, the sunbed business to make a sunbed available for use on relevant premises to a person under the age of 18
  • No person under the age of 18 is present at any time in a restricted zone unless they are providing services to the sunbed business - for example, if they are an employee

The Act defines a restricted zone as being a wholly or partly enclosed space within relevant premises where the sunbed is located and which is reserved for people who are using that sunbed. If the sunbed is located in a room, but not within a wholly or partly enclosed space within that room, then the entire room is a restricted zone. This means that if you locate your sunbed in a partitioned area of a larger room, then that partitioned area is the restricted zone and no-one under the age of 18 can enter (unless they are providing services to, or employed by, the sunbed business). If you do not have a partitioned area, then the whole room where the sunbed is located is classed as a restricted zone.

Grounds for refusal of a licence

We may refuse to grant, renew or transfer a licence on any of the following grounds:

  • The premises are not structurally suitable for the purpose
  • There is a likelihood of nuisance being caused by reason of the conduct, management or situation of the premises or the character of the relevant locality or the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put
  • The person concerned or intended to be concerned in the conduct or management of the premises used for special treatment could be reasonably regarded as not being fit and proper persons to hold such a licence
  • The persons giving the special treatment are not suitably qualified
  • The premises have been or are being improperly conducted
  • The premises are not provided with satisfactory means of lighting, sanitation and ventilation
  • The means of heating the premises are not safe
  • Proper precautions against fire on the premises are not being taken
  • They are not satisfied as to the safety of equipment used in the special treatment or as to the manner in which the treatment is to be given
  • They are not satisfied as to the safety of the special treatment to be given
  • Satisfactory means of escape in case of fire and suitable means for fighting fire are not provided on the premises
  • The applicant has, within the period of five years immediately preceding the application to the borough council, been convicted of an offence under this Part of the Act
  • The applicant has failed to comply with the requirements of application or has failed to pay the specified fee

Applying for a licence

The Council has adopted Regulations Governing Applications for the grant, renewal, transfer and variation of Special Treatment Licences and their determination and you are urged to read these before making an application.

Premises licence

How to apply for a new licence.

Renewal of a licence

How to apply for the renewal of an existing licence.

Variation to a licence

How to apply for the variation of an existing licence such as adding a new treatment, amending a condition.

Transfer of a premises licence

How to transfer and existing licence from one licence holder to another.