In February 2004, the Department of Health published guidance explaining the provisions in section 120 and Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act 2003 on the regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses, which amend section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. Those measures came into force on 1 April 2004, at which time local authorities were able to decide whether to implement them locally.

These provisions gave local authorities in England (outside London*) and in Wales, specific powers relating to persons carrying on businesses of cosmetic piercing (piercing of the body including the ear) and semi-permanent skin-colouring (for example, micropigmentation, semi-permanent make-up and temporary tattooing). The guidance also provided separate new model byelaws for cosmetic piercing and semi-permanent skin-colouring. These supplemented existing separate model byelaws for acupuncture, ear-piercing, electrolysis and tattooing.

Since the 2004 guidance was published, there has been a growing demand from local authorities who wish to implement the new powers in the 2003 Act for a single, multi-purpose, “pick and mix” set of model byelaws that could be used for one, several or all types of skin piercing/skin colouring currently regulated. In response to this demand, the Department of Health has produced a new consolidated set of model byelaws that can be used by local authorities to regulate business in their area.

*Local authorities in London have additional powers to control skin piercing activities under the London Local Authorities Act 1991 and the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1981.