Infection Prevention and Control

The Infection Prevention and Control Unit at the Health Protection Service regulates all businesses in the ACT that perform skin penetration procedures.

Skin penetration procedures

Skin penetration is any process that involves piercing, cutting, puncturing, or tearing of a human body.

It does not include:

  • cutting, shaving or hair dyeing
  • closed ear piercing or the use of test equipment.

Code of practice

If your business performs skin penetration procedures, you must be licensed and comply with the Infection Control Code of Practice.

Infection control guidelines

The ACT Health Infection Control Guidelines for office practices and other community-based services help businesses to comply with the code.

The guidelines are based on the key principles of infection prevention and control and outline procedures to prevent or stop the spread of infections.

It is important for your business to follow infection prevention and control procedures to protect your staff, clients or patients from preventable infections.

Types of businesses that require a licence


  • dental practices
  • podiatry clinics
  • acupuncture clinics
  • cosmetic skin clinics
  • colonic irrigation clinics
  • dry needling practices such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors
  • beauty salons
  • tattoo studios
  • body piercing studios
  • nail salons
  • Hijama clinics
  • infusion therapy clinics
  • ear piercing businesses, excluding businesses that only pierce the lower lobe with an apparatus that uses sealed and pre-sterilised disposable fittings
  • any mobile practitioner providing any of these services – some business types may be restricted to premises-based.

Find out more about how to apply for, vary or transfer an infection control license.

Other business types that don't need a licence

If your business performs an infection risk procedure (but not skin penetration) an infection control licence is not required. 

However, you are required to comply with the Infection Code of Practice.

Some examples include hairdressing, eyelash extensions and massage treatments.

The hairdressing guidelines details how hairdressing businesses (including barbering) can comply with the code.

You should refer to the Infection Control Guidelines to help comply with the code.

You can discuss your infection control licencing and obligations with a public health officer on 02 5124 9700 or

Infection control inspections

Your skin penetration business may be inspected at any time without notice by a public health officer. This can be a routine inspection or after a complaint has been made.

Your business will be assessed against the Infection Control Code of Practice.

You can ask the public health officer to produce their identity card.

You must not stop a public health officer from carrying out their inspection. It's an offence to interfere with an inspection.

During an inspection

Public health officers may:

  • ask questions
  • request your help for access to certain areas
  • request and copy documents
  • examine anything in or on the premises such as equipment, supplies
  • take photographs
  • seize items if necessary.

Breaches of the code

If public health officers find breaches of the code, you will be issued with an improvement notice and must fix the issues within a certain timeframe.

If critical breaches are found, you may be given a prohibition notice and your business closed until it is safe to reopen.

If you don't fix issues after an improvement notice, you may be fined and given a prohibition notice.

What public health officers will look for

There are inspection forms for each business type that needs an infection control licence.

These forms help public heath officers be consistent and transparent during an inspection.

You can use these forms to get an idea of what the public health officers will look for during an inspection. The inspection forms are not intended to be used as educational or resource material.

Download the inspection forms:

Find out how to apply for an infection control licence.

Public health complaints

If someone complains about hygiene standards at your business, public health officers hold regulatory powers and a public health officer from the Infection Prevention and Control Unit will investigate.

Find out more about public health complaints.

Page last updated on: 11 Sep 2023