We recommend that you only submit applications via email as our staff are working remotely. If you need help please contact Some applications may be delayed, particularly where they require an inspection of a premises or site assessment to be carried out.

If your business is closed and you are unable to pay the licence fee when due over the next few months, you can ask for a suspension of your licence by emailing

Special treatments establishment licence

In order to provide special treatments within The London Borough of Merton, you need to obtain a licence for your premises. The licence is valid for one year and needs to be renewed annually.

What are special treatments?

Special treatments include, but are not limited to:

  • Tattooing, including micropigmentation and microblading.
  • 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


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

  • 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:
    • A medical practitioner registered by the General Medical Council, or
    • Any bona fide member of a body of health practitioners approved by the Council,
    • In the case of acupuncture, a dentist registered under the Dentists Act 1984,
    • In the case of osteopathy, a person registered as a fully registered osteopath or a conditionally registered osteopath under the Osteopaths Act 1993,
    • 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.

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

However, in order to make this process easier, most London Boroughs agree a list of exempted bodies via the London Special Treatment Group. Merton Council has adopted this list. 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.

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

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.

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.

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 in the area
  • 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

Therapist registration

It is 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. We have produced guidance on acceptable qualifications and training for therapists. This is not an exhaustive list but is produced for your assistance.

Fee (with effect from 1 April 2021)

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

The fee is based on the level of risk from the treatments and is calculated on a cost recovery basis. The fee payable is based on the highest risk treatment that is to be given, for example, even if only one treatment out of many is in the highest risk group then the fee will fall within the highest band. The number of treatment groups to be licensed makes no difference to the licence fee.

Licensable treatments are grouped into eight categories and these will be specified on your licence when issued. The groups and associated fee band are:

Treatment groupTreatments within the groupFee band
Group 1tattooing, cosmetic piercing (except ear piercing - lobe only and nose piercing – nostril only), laser/intense pulse light treatments, micropigmentation, microbladingHigh risk
Group 2other treatments involving the breaking of skin e.g. acupuncture, red vein treatment, electrolysis- wart/skin tag removalMedium risk
Group 3massage treatments (including aromatherapy, reflexology)Medium risk
Group 4electrical and light treatments (including hair removal by electrolysis, galvanic/faradic treatments, UV tanning)Medium risk
Group 5nail treatments (acrylic) – nail extensionsMedium risk
Group 6nail treatments, for example, manicure and pedicure (excluding acrylic treatments)Medium risk
Group 7sauna, steam, spa –poolsMedium risk
Group 8ear piercing (lobe only), nose piercing (nostril only)Low risk

The following treatments are included in the initial cost of the licence:-

  1. Massage: including aromatherapy, reflexology, Shiatsu, acupressure, vacuum suction and moxibustion (without skin piercing).
  2. Manicure: including pedicure, chiropody.
  3. Baths: including vapour treatments involving application of steam (including saunas), salt baths, whirlpools, bleaching and waxing.

Guidelines for making applications

To apply for a licence you must download and complete the appropriate application form and send it to us with the correct fee. For a new application or an application to vary the layout of the premises you must provide us with a plan of the premises. If you intend to provide laser/intense light (IPL) treatments, you are requested to submit a copy of your Local Rules and Treatment Protocol (please advise us if you cannot provide these documents at this stage). Your application will not be processed until we receive all the required information and the correct fee.

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.


Once we receive your application and accompanying documents, there is a consultation period of 28 days in which we pass your application to the Council's planning department, the Police and the Fire Brigade. These bodies can raise concerns with or object to your application. 

In addition, if you are applying for a new licence you must put up a notice of application at the premises on the day you submit your application to the Council.  The notice must be displayed for at least 14 days. At the discretion of the Council, a notice may also be required for variations of licence, e.g., extension of premises or on renewal.


Before a new 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 show documentation to prove that the electrical installation, portable appliance and gas installations at the premises are safe for use and that you have the required public liability insurance. Inspections may also be carried out following a renewal or variation application.

Application evaluation process

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 premises inspection, the licence will only be granted once these problems have been addressed and you are able to comply fully with the Councils standard conditions for special treatment premises.

Where the Council receives an objection, it does not automatically mean that it will refuse to grant the licence. On receipt of an objection, the Council will notify you of the reason for the objection and ask for your comments. Where possible, the Council will attempt to resolve any objections by a form of conciliation. If this is not possible, then in most cases the application will be determined by a meeting of the Licensing Committee where both the applicant and objectors can present their case.

No licensable treatments may be provided until the licence is granted.

Licence holder redress

Where a licence is refused or if you object to any of the licensing conditions attached to your licence you may appeal to a Magistrates Court.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise in the first instance that in the event of a complaint, you make contact with the trader. If you are not satisfied with their response please contact the licensing team on the details below.

Contact the Licensing Team

London Borough of Merton
Regulatory Services Partnership
Merton Civic Centre
London Road
Morden SM4 5DX