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Skin penetration businesses

The Public Health Act 2010 (the Act) and Public Health Regulation 2022 (the Regulations) regulates body decorating and grooming practices carried out by people who are not registered as health professionals.

The Public Health Act 2010 defines a skin penetration procedure as:

"any procedure (whether medical or not) that involves skin penetration (such as acupuncture, tattooing, ear piercing or hair removal or the penetration of a mucous membrane), and includes any procedure declared by the Regulations to be a skin penetration procedure, but does not include-

(a) any procedure carried out by a registered health practitioner, or by a person acting under the direction or supervision of a registered health practitioner, in the course of providing a health service, or

(b) any procedure declared by the Regulations not to be a skin penetration procedure."

Skin penetration does not include laser hair removal.

You must register your business with Council if your business performs:

  • acupuncture
  • nail removal that cuts into the cuticle
  • beauty treatments
  • body, nose and ear piercing
  • cosmetic enhancements
  • colonic lavage
  • blood cholesterol and glucose measurement
  • microdermabrasion
  • tattooing
  • any other procedure (whether medical or not) that involves skin penetration such as hair removal using wax or electrolysis, cosmetic enhancement and semi-permanent makeup, and any beauty treatment which involves the deliberate penetration or removal of the skin.

If you own a new or existing skin penetration business, you need to follow specific design and construction standards to make sure that you design and operate your business in a correct manner.

Design, construction and approval

If you are thinking about starting a skin penetration business, you may need to obtain approval (consent) from Council to operate your business, even if a managing agent or owner has given you permission to operate. Please contact Council's Development Help Desk to discuss whether consent is required:

There are requirements that apply when designing and constructing your business. These requirements will help you when designing the fit-out of your business premises. These include:

  • design and construction methods that allow surfaces to be easily cleaned
  • a separate sink with a supply of clean, warm water for cleaning equipment
  • a waste disposal bin
  • good lighting and ventilation
  • storage facilities that can store utensils and equipment in a clean condition
  • a hand basin that is only used for hand washing. It must be supplied with:
    • clean, warm potable water
    • an alcohol-based hand cleaner
    • a working automatic hand dryer or single-use towels.

You can find the rules for designing your skin penetration business in the Regulations on the NSW legislation website:

Other requirements

If your business uses sharps, you must use a sharps container that meets Australian standards:

All skin penetration businesses must be registered with Council before starting business.

Also, if your existing business changes ownership, the new owner needs to notify Council within seven days.

How to register

You can register your business with Council by completing the online registration form:

You will need to provide your DA or CDC reference number demonstrating consent for operating your business at the premises.

You can then return your completed form to us by:

The Regulations require operators of skin penetration procedures to be registered with Council.

The Regulations also allow Council's Environmental Health Officers to carry out inspections, when needed, to ensure businesses are being operated and maintained in compliance with the Act and Regulations (legislation), including that:

  • the business meets all design and construction standards and is in a clean condition
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn by operators
  • good infection control practices are used
  • all sharps are appropriately disposed of
  • all needles, sharps and other skin penetrating equipment are sterile.

Skin penetration procedures can spread viral, bacterial and fungal infections from one person to another through contaminated equipment and surfaces. Businesses that use effective infection control procedures greatly reduce the risk of infection.

More information

NSW Health has useful information and resources for skin penetration businesses:

If you need more information about skin penetration, please contact our Public and Environmental Health Team: