Local authorities in England and Wales are responsible for regulating and monitoring businesses offering tattooing or cosmetic piercing and also acupuncture, ear-piercing, electrolysis and semi-permanent skin colouring. Similar licensing arrangements are in place in Scotland.
Any business wishing to offer these services must register with their local authority. Both the person undertaking the activity and the premises must be registered. It is a criminal offence to trade without registration or to be in breach of the relevant byelaws.
Additional legislation makes it an offence to permanently tattoo persons under the age of 18. No such statutory restrictions apply to cosmetic piercing or skin colouring.