Massage and special treatment

This guidance should help you in making your licence or registration application. Please contact us if you have any questions before you start up a business. You must have a licence before you start trading.

For business support and Covid business grants please visit the council's business support and advice page.

Special treatment licences include any beauty treatment that involves:

  • massages
  • manicures
  • acupuncture
  • tattooing
  • cosmetic piercings
  • chiropody
  • light treatments
  • electrical treatments
  • other similar treatments.

It also includes saunas, steam rooms and other baths.

The Special Treatments A-Z (pdf 836KB) is a comprehensive list which details whether treatments need a licence or not. It also gives information on therapist training requirements.

Standard conditions

Massage and special treatment (MST) Licences are subject to standard conditions which must be followed at all times unless otherwise agreed in writing with us. You should study these carefully to make sure that your business can comply. Following a consultation with all licence holders last year a number of changes have been made to update the Standard Conditions. A useful checklist of documents that you are expected to keep can be found in Appendix A of the Standard Conditions document below.

The Standard Conditions Q&A guidance will help you see what you need to do to comply with the changes introduced to the conditions when you renew your licence in 2020. 

Applications which do not include a fully completed application form and other requested information cannot be processed. You must send copies of the application form to the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade. Our environmental health officers will also be consulted and may contact you to arrange an inspection of your business before the licence can be granted. If your application is unopposed or agreement is reached with you over any additional conditions or work to be carried out then the licence will be granted, usually within 28 days.

Licence application and renewals

If you want to apply for a massage and special treatment licence or therapist registration please read the information on this web page before applying. 

If you have any questions email

The legislation permits certain premises offering special treatments to be exempt from holding a licence. The criteria that must be met is set out on the application form. The List of Bodies of Health Practitioners Granted Exemption (pdf 255KB) by the London Special Treatments Group lists health practitioner membership bodies which have been assessed as meeting the legislation requirements. Therapists working at exempt premises do not require registration.   

Apply online

    Renewal reminder letters are sent out by email about three weeks before the licence expiry date. 

    Application for an exemption from a licence

    If you want to apply for a licence exemption please read the information on this web page before applying. 

    Application forms (Word and pdf documents)

    Complaints about special treatments

    You should contact us if you have any concern about beauty or cosmetic treatments being offered without a licence or if you suspect therapists are not registered with us. You should also contact us if you would like to report poor practices likely to lead to injury or ill health.

    How to pay

    The fee will be taken as part of the application process. You will need a credit or debit card to make the payment.

    Acceptable qualifications

    The council will only accept national/international regulated qualifications, like City and Guilds, CIDESCO, NVQ or equivalent. Registration with the council does not guarantee the competency of the practitioner, it merely shows that they are qualified to provide the treatments which have been approved.

    Therapists undertaking body piercing, tattooing, micropigmentation, IPL and similar treatments will be required to attend a pre arranged interview before registration can be granted.

    International qualifications

    If you have obtained an international qualification which is not generally recognised within the UK, you must complete two stages before applying for therapist registration:

    a) If the certificate of qualification is in a language other than English, you must obtain a full translation of the certificate into English. This must be carried out by an independent licensed translator and must be endorsed as a true translation of the certificate.

    b) Once the qualification certificate has been translated into English, you will need to obtain a comparability certificate. This will state what your qualification is equivalent to in terms of UK qualifications. A comparability certificate may be obtained from the UK ENIC. This organisation  provides a service for individuals seeking information on comparability between international and UK academic qualifications. This service is intended to assist those with overseas qualification to progress towards further studies and employment in the UK. Please be advised that UK ENIC will make a charge for this service. Contact UK ENIC for full details of how to apply.

    Trainee therapists

    Trainee therapists, who have not yet received a recognised qualification, will be provisionally registered which will allow them to work within licensed premises. It will be the responsibility of the licence holder to ensure trainees are supervised at all times and are competent to carry out treatments.

    Trainees should complete the therapist registration application form and indicate their current training programme and expected finish time. Evidence of training, for example a letter from the college, and/or the MST Licence Holder should be sent in with the application.

    Trainees will only be registered for a maximum period of one year in the first instance. After successful completion of training the therapist may apply for full registration.

    Reasons to refuse an application

    Your application may be refused, suspended or revoked for any of the following reasons:

    • the correct fee has not been paid
    • requested documents or information has not been provided
    • the premises are not structurally suitable for the purpose
    • there is a likelihood of nuisance being caused to neighbours
    • the persons 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
    • how a treatment is to be given or how equipment is used is not considered safe
    • fire precautions including means of escape and fighting fire equipment are not adequate
    • the applicant has been convicted of a relevant offence.

    Applications will be considered by the council licensing sub-committee where there are reasons for concern over the management of the premises. The law relating to this licence is the London Local Authorities Act 1991.

    Planning permission

    You should check that your business premises has the correct planning permission to lawfully carry out massage and special treatments.

    General data protection regulations

    For information on general data protection regulations and how we manage your data please see our privacy notice.

    Contact details

    Hammersmith & Fulham Council
    Environment Department
    Food and Safety Team
    Hammersmith Town Hall
    King Street
    London W6 9JU

    020 8753 1081