How to start a personal appearance business

Hairdressing, beauty therapy and skin penetration, such as tattooing and body piercing are personal appearance services. Personal appearance services can be operated from a home, commercial premises or mobile premises (e.g. a caravan).

If you are starting a new business, making changes or taking over an existing one, you need to meet Council's planning scheme requirements and comply with the Public Health (Infection Control for Personal Appearance Services) Act 2003.

If you want to operate a tattooing, body piercing or other skin penetration business you will need a higher risk personal appearance service licence. You can find out about design and fit-out requirements, the application process and other applications you may need on this page.

If want to operate a beauty therapy or hairdressing business, you do not need a licence, however, you need to check what other applications you may need and design and fit-out requirements.

Before you start

If you are starting a new personal appearance service, taking over or making changes to an existing personal appearance service, you will need to consider planning, building and plumbing approvals.

Planning approval

Your first step when starting any personal appearance service is to check if you need planning approval.

Council’s planning scheme guides how land can be used and developed, including the suitability of a location for mobile and home based personal appearance services.

Personal appearance service businesses may need planning approval for these activities:

  • starting a new personal appearance service business
  • changing the type of activity (e.g. from office space to tattooist)
  • re-establishing a personal appearance service business that was abandoned
  • changing the scale or intensity of an existing business (e.g. increasing the number of chairs or expanding into the next unit)
  • carrying out building work (e.g. fit-out of the salon)
  • carrying out plumbing or drainage work.

To find out if you need to submit a development application for a personal appearance service business, you can:

  • lodge an enquiry with Council
  • arrange a pre-lodgement meeting with Council
  • engage a town planning consultant registered with the Planning Institute of Australia
  • self-assess your proposed activity against Council’s planning scheme.

You can access Council’s planning scheme using PD Online.

Building approval

Building work for a personal appearance service may include:

  • fitting out a new salon
  • installing a new procedure room
  • refurbishing an existing salon.

All building work is assessed against the building assessment provisions (including, but not limited to, the National Construction Code and the Queensland Development Code) which set the minimum requirements for building structure, fire safety, access and egress, health and amenity, and energy efficiency.

To find out if you need building approval, you can:

Compliance certificates for building work

For higher risk activities, the fit-out of the salon must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 5.2 – Higher risk personal appearance services.

During the licence application process, Council may ask for a Form 15 that certifies the design (or some other major component of your business) meets MP 5.2, and a Form 16 to certify that the design was installed to specification.

Your building certifier will collect these forms as necessary.

Plumbing approval

Personal appearance services may need plumbing and drainage approval for the following activities:

  • installation of sinks
  • release of trade waste to sewer
  • installation and maintenance of backflow prevention devices
  • use of non-reticulated water supply (tank water).

The Plumbing Code of Australia forms part of the National Construction Code and contains the technical provisions for plumbing and drainage.

Plumbing and drainage work should be conducted by a licensed plumber.  

Contact Council or your local water authority for more information.

Trade waste consent

Trade waste is liquid waste produced by a business. All businesses require consent from the local water authority to release trade waste to the sewer.

Some personal appearance services also need pre-treatment equipment and monitoring equipment (e.g. separators, interceptors, or in-sink or in-drain baskets) before release to the sewer.

The property owner or tenant (depending on lease agreement) is responsible for organising trade waste approvals and the installation of any pre-treatment equipment.

Contact Council or your local water authority for more information on trade waste consent.

Backflow prevention devices

Backflow prevention devices stop sewage flowing back through to the town’s water supply.  There are two different types of backflow prevention devices, testable and non-testable.

All personal appearance service businesses connected to town water require a non-testable backflow prevention device.  A licensed plumber can install a non-testable backflow prevention device for you.

Personal appearance service businesses with a pre-treatment device will need to have a testable backflow prevention device. A testable backflow prevention device must be:

  • installed by an endorsed backflow plumber
  • registered with Council by the endorsed backflow plumber
  • inspected or tested annually by a licensed plumber.

Contact Council or your local water authority for further information on backflow prevention devices.

Non-reticulated water supply

Reticulated water is drinkable water supplied by the local water authority. Non-reticulated water is any other water you have access to (e.g. rainwater, groundwater from wells or bores, or greywater from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances).

Some local governments require the use of rainwater or greywater systems for new buildings. A list of participating local governments is available on the Department of Housing and Public Works site.

If your personal appearance service business does not have access to town water, you will need to demonstrate the water you use is safe. This normally means you need to chemically treat, heat treat, or specially filter the water. Find out how you can safely use non-reticulated water.

Higher risk personal appearance service businesses with access to town water (reticulated water) should use town water for cleaning and sterilising.

All personal appearance service business can also use rainwater or greywater (or other non-reticulated water) for non-drinking purposes, including flushing toilets and as cold water for washing machines.

The installation of a non-reticulated water supply must meet the requirements of Queensland Development Code MP 4.3 – Supplementary Water Sources. A plumbing approval is not required to use rainwater or greywater in your building, but your plumber will need to notify the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.  Your plumber will provide you with a copy of the notification.

You may need planning or building approval for storage tanks larger than 10m2, or if the tank is located in a cyclone area.

Contact Council or your local water authority for more information on the use of a non-reticulated water supply.