Do you need a licence to be a holistic therapist?

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When operating any form of business, it is important to recognise the requirements around licensing. And if you are offering any form of holistic treatments such as reiki, massage or reflexology, there is a chance you may require a therapy licence.

However, it’s not a straightforward answer. Not everyone will require a licence to practice their chosen therapy. The necessity will depend on your location and treatments offered, with business licensing matters handled by local authorities.

That’s why your local council is always the best place to find out if you need a licence to practice.

Different Types of Licence

Many regions will not require you to attain any licence to carry out therapy treatments, other than for you to register your business with HMRC.

As well as your location being a factor, the treatments you offer will have some form of impact. For example, if you are carrying out any form of acupuncture, where you are piercing a client’s skin, it is more than likely that you will require a licence of some form.

Often this is bundled together with massage treatments with a Massage and Special Treatments Licence.

Massage and Special Treatments Licence

This type of licensing requirement is commonplace in London, with many boroughs in the capital providing this service.

Usually, the local authority will require you to have obtained a nationally recognised qualification in the services you are offer. This could be a City and Guilds, an NVQ or the equivalent, but must meet the National Occupational Standards.

Sometimes, if you are a member of an organised body, an exemption can be made. This is the case for members of The Federation of Holistic Therapists and British Reflexology Association as well as many others. However, it is always best to check with your local council in the first instance.

The cost of a Massage and Special Treatments Licence, again, can vary. Fees can range from around £180 if you are offering treatments such as manicures and pedicures to over £700 for some of the more invasive treatments.

Special Treatments Premises Licence

Like the Massage and Special Treatments Licence, this document is more commonly required within London. The Special Treatments Premises Licence is designed, as the name suggests, to cover the premises that the treatment is being offered, as opposed to the individual therapist.

Massage treatments, as well as a number of beauty-related treatments fall under this licensing requirements. Like the therapy licence for the individual therapist, there are often exclusions for members of  some organisations.

It’s important to remember that unlike some other business licenses, tacit consent is unlikely to apply. That means, that whereby some licensing processes will allow you to practice while at the application stage, you will not be able to practice until you are given this licence.

Awareness is key

While many treatments covered by Protectivity’s Therapist Insurance will not require you to obtain a license, checking with your local council is so important.

If you are found to be providing a service that you are unlicensed for, you could be liable for a hefty fine, and the revocation of your right to trade as a business. Although licensing issues can be confusing or time-consuming, ignorance is unlikely to be taken as an acceptable excuse.