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Do I need to register with North Devon Council?

North Devon Council have adopted Part VIII of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, which covers the registration of various skin piercing activities. In addition, the Council has made local byelaws (pdf PDF logo177kB) under this legislation in relation to acupuncture.

Whilst the above Act does not attempt to define acupuncture, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means the insertion of needles into living tissue for remedial purposes.

Personal registration

Persons may not carry on the business of acupuncture in North Devon unless they are registered with North Devon Council.

The legislation does not extend to the practice of acupuncture, by or under the supervision of a person who is registered as a medical practitioner or a dentist or a premises on which the above is carried on by or under the supervision of such a person.

Premises registration

A person may only carry on the practice of acupuncture in North Devon in a premises registered with North Devon Council.

A person who is registered with the local authority to carry on the practice of acupuncture at their premises does not contravene the Act merely because he/she sometimes visits people at their request to give them acupuncture.

The applicant

When applying for a personal registration an applicant must demonstrate that they:

  • are competent in acupuncture and associated cleaning processes etc.
  • have high standards of personal hygiene
  • have knowledge of the risks associated with acupuncture i.e. blood borne infection
  • have knowledge of the required standards for premises in which they are to operate
  • understand the importance of gaining knowledge about the health of their clients
  • understand the benefits of record keeping

Applicants must state whether they hold previous convictions under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 or whether any previous registration issued to them has been cancelled.

Where an applicant’s registration has been previously cancelled by a court he/she shall not again be registered except with the consent of the magistrate’s court which convicted them.

Application process

To gain personal or premises registration for acupuncture, please complete an application form and return it with the appropriate fee to the Licensing team at the Council.

When the application has been received, a Licensing Officer will contact the applicant within a period of 5 working days. If an officer has not been in contact within this period, please contact us to ensure that your application has been correctly made and received. If you have not heard anything, it does not mean that your registration has been completed, as usually further contact from an officer is required.

Depending on whether the application relates to a personal or premises registration, a licensing officer will contact you to arrange a convenient time and date to undertake either:

A short interview of the person to be registered in order to gain an idea of their experience and ability.

A premises inspection to ascertain the level of compliance with the Council’s byelaws and the Tattooing and Body Piercing Guidance ToolkitExternal link.

On completion of registration applicants will gain a Certificate of Registration.

Application forms

Personal Registration - Application (word 225kB logo - Word Document Logo) Application (pdf 78kB PDF logo)

Premises Registration - Application (word 276kB logo - Word Document Logo) Application (pdf 85kB PDF logo)

Online application External link

Online - notify us of a change of circumstances External link

logo - EU-GO portal

EUGO Portal

How long will it take to process my application?

The council will endeavour to issue your certificate of registration within a period of 28 working days, however if we have been unable to determine your application in this time a licence will not be automatically granted due to health and safety implications.

How long does a certificate of registration last?

Your certificate of registration for either yourself or your premises will last indefinitely and you are not required to renew your certificate at any stage.

What are the byelaws that are relevant to registration?

North Devon Council has adopted byelaws (pdf PDF logo 177kB) relating to acupuncture for the purpose of securing:

  • the cleanliness of premises and their fittings
  • the cleanliness of registered persons and their assistants
  • the cleaning and where appropriate sterilisation of instruments, materials, and equipment used in connection with an acupuncture business

Guidance on acupuncture

Please refer to the Tattooing and Body Piercing Guidance ToolkitExternal link for guidance on safe working practices.

Rights of entry

An authorised Officer of North Devon Council may, when in possession of a warrant, enter premises in the area of North Devon, if they have reason to suspect that an offence is being committed.

Offences and penalties

Any person who without reasonable excuse refuses to allow an authorised officer (in possession of a warrant) entry shall be guilty of an offence and shall for every such refusal be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1000).

Any person who contravenes any of North Devon Council’s byelaws (pdf PDF logo 177kB) shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1000).

If a registered practitioner of acupuncture is found guilty of an offence under a byelaw, a court may instead or in addition to imposing a fine, order the suspension or cancellation of their registration.

A court which orders the suspension or cancellation of an acupuncture registration may also order the suspension or cancellation of any registration of the premises in which the offence was committed, if they are occupied by the person found guilty of the offence.

A court ordering the suspension or cancellation of a personal registration may suspend the operation of the order until the expiration of the period prescribed by Crown Court rules for giving notice of appeal to the Crown Court.

Right of appeal

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted registration or by any conditions to which registration is subject may appeal to the Magistrates Court who may give such directions regarding the registration or its conditions as it thinks proper.


A completed application must be submitted with a fee of £66.40 for each registration of premises or persons.

Public register

The Acupuncture premises register contains details of those premises registered with North Devon Council.


If you want to make a complaint about a premises which practices acupuncture, please contact us.

If you feel we have failed to provide a good service or are concerned about the progress of your application, please telephone Customer Services. The Licensing Team will endeavour to resolve any concerns you may have.

The Council also has a formal complaints procedure.

Further information

Copies of Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and The Local Government Act 2003 can be purchased from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

For the definition of medical practitioner, please see The Medical Act 1983, s55.

For the definition of dentist, please see The Dentist Act 1957, s16.

You are advised to contact North Devon Council Waste and Recycling Services on 01271 374776 or 01271 340391 for advice if you have difficulty in arranging a suitable waste collection for your business.

The following publications may be of use:

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)External link Blood-borne viruses in the workplace: guidance for employers and employees. Health and Safety Executive.

Trade organisations

The Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union - TPIExternal link

GMB Thorne House
152 Brent Street
Telephone: 08701 242030
Fax: 0208 202 2893

Hairdressing And Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA)External link.
Fraser House
Nether Hall Road
Telephone: 01302 380000

The British Acupuncture Council
63 Jeddo Road
W12 9HQ
Telephone: 02087350400

The British Medical Acupuncture Society
BMAS House
3 Winnington Court
Telephone: 01606 786782


Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital
60 Great Ormond Street
Telephone: 020 7713 9437

Contact information

To contact the Customer Service Centre:

Telephone: 01271 388870
For Typetalk: precede with 18001
Text: 07624 804042
Fax: 01271 388451
Web form: send us a web enquiry
Join the conversation on Twitterexternal website
Compliment, complaint or suggestion? Your feedback

Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Licence applications, notices etc should be sent to:

The Licensing Team
Environmental Health and Housing
North Devon Council
Civic Centre
North Walk
EX31 1EA

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