What is a skin penetration procedure?

The Public Health Act 2010 (the Act) 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.”

Colonic lavage is a skin penetration procedure and laser hair removal is not a skin penetration procedure under the Public Health Regulation 2022 (the Regulation).


The Act and Regulation regulate body decorating and grooming practices carried out by people who are not registered as health practitioners.

The legislation:

  • specifies procedures to prevent the spread of disease
  • requires operators to be registered with the local council
  • gives powers to authorised officers to carry out inspections and take action to gain compliance.

The Public Health Regulation was recently updated; visit our Public health legislation page to find out what has changed.

The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) regulates activities by registered health practitioners. Visit the HCCC website for further information.

Skin penetration activities

Activities regulated under the Act and the Regulation include:

  • acupuncture
  • beauty treatments
  • body, nose and ear piercing
  • cosmetic enhancements
  • colonic lavage
  • tattooing
  • blood cholesterol and glucose measurement
  • any other procedure that involves penetration of the skin.

Note: Hairdressing and other body decorating and grooming practices which do not deliberately pierce the skin are not regulated under this legislation. However, these activities may be regulated by your local council under different legislation. Contact your local council for further information.

Information for specific industries is available on the Skin penetration resources page.

Failure to meet your legal obligations

Failure by a skin penetration business to meet the requirements of the Act and Regulation can result in:

  • a legal notice or order
  • an on-the-spot fine
  • closure of some or all of your business
  • prosecution.

Authorised officers may visit a skin penetration business for routine inspections or to investigate a particular incident, for example a bacterial infection. These inspections occur without notice. Officers may also provide information, education and advice to businesses and the public.

Read more about the Role and powers of authorised officers, and what can happen if your business fails to comply with the Act or Regulation.

Skin penetration business design and construction

Skin penetration business owners need to meet certain design and construction standards that ensure new and existing businesses are correctly designed and operated.

Read more about Skin penetration business design and construction.

Mobile and home-based businesses

A person carrying out a mobile skin penetration service in their own premises e.g., a vehicle or temporary structure, must:  

  • notify the local council about their business and comply with the Regulation (e.g., they must complete the correct notification form and provide this to their local council, properly equip the business, and provide sharps containers and a supply of sterile disposable needles); and
  • carry out skin penetration procedures in accordance with the requirements under Division 3 of Part 4 of the Regulation (e.g., use of needles and sharps and protective equipment).

A person carrying out a mobile skin penetration service in different premises than their own, i.e., not their vehicle or temporary structure but at other venues or homes, must comply with requirements under Division 3 of Part 4 of the Regulation.

If a skin penetration operator wishes to operate a home-based business or trade on councils road or council land, they should contact their local council for further advice prior to operation. For trade on state roads, operators should contact Transport for NSW.

Notify your local council

Use the Notification of Skin Penetration Procedure Premises form to notify your local council of the existence of premises where skin penetration is performed.

Inspection checklists for authorised officers

Inspection tools have been developed by the NSW Ministry of Health to support local government authorities and public health units to carry out inspections of skin penetration businesses.

Industry stakeholders may also wish to use these tools to ensure they are meeting their obligations under the Public Health Act 2010 and the Public Health Regulation 2022.

Templates for improvement notices and prohibition orders

Visit our Forms and templates page for an improvement notice, prohibition order and certificate of clearance template.

Further information and resources

A range of fact sheets, posters, videos, tools and forms are available to help skin penetration practitioners and regulatory agencies to protect public health.

Skin penetration resources ​​​​​

Current as at: Thursday 10 August 2023
Contact page owner: Environmental Health