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Massage Permit

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Massage Registration and Certification Guidelines

Application for Massage Business Owner Registration Form (See below for requirements.)
Application for Massage Individual Permit Form (See below for requirements.)
City of Santa Cruz Massage Ordinance

Individual Practitioners and Masseuses


Massage defined:

“Massage” or “massage therapy,” means and refers to any method of treating the external parts of the body for remedial, health, or hygienic purposes for any form of compensation by means of pressure on or friction against, or stroking, kneading, rubbing, tapping, pounding, or stimulating the external parts of the body, with or without the aid of any mechanical or electrical apparatus or appliances; or with or without supplementary aids, such as rubbing alcohol, liniments, antiseptics, oils, powders, creams, lotions, ointments, or other similar preparations commonly used in this practice.

Massage business defined:

“Massage business” means any business that offers massage therapy in exchange for compensation, whether at a fixed place of business or a location designated by the customer or client through outcall massage services. Any business that offers any combination of massage therapy and bath facilities – including, but not limited to, showers, baths, wet and dry heat rooms, pools and hot tubs – shall be deemed a massage business under this chapter. The term “massage business” includes a certified massage practitioner who is the sole owner, operator, and employee of a massage business operating as a sole proprietorship.

Massage businesses/individuals who are exempt:

(1) Physicians, surgeons, chiropractors, osteopaths, nurses or any physical therapists who are duly licensed to practice their respective professions in the State of California and persons working directly under the supervision of or at the direction of such licensed persons, working at the same location as the licensed person, and administering massage services subject to review or oversight by the licensed person.

(2) Barbers and cosmetologists who are duly licensed under the laws of the State of California while engaging in practices within the scope of their licenses, except that this exemption shall apply solely to the massaging of the neck, face and/or scalp, hands or feet of the clients.

(3) Hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, or any other health facilities duly licensed by the State of California, and employees of these licensed institutions, while acting within the scope of their employment.

(4) Accredited high schools, junior colleges, and colleges or universities whose coaches and trainers are acting within the scope of their employment.

(5) Trainers of amateur, semi-professional or professional athletes or athletic teams while engaging in their training responsibilities for and with athletes; and trainers working in conjunction with a specific athletic event.

(6) Individuals administering massages or health treatment involving massage to persons participating in single-occurrence athletic, recreational or festival events, such as health fairs, road races, track meets, triathlons and other similar events; provided, that all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(A) The massage services are made equally available to all participants in the event;

(B) The event is open to participation by the general public or a significant segment of the public such as employees of sponsoring or participating corporations;

(C) The massage services are provided at the site of the event and either during, immediately preceding or immediately following the event;

(D) The sponsors of the event have been advised of and have approved the provisions of massage services;

(E) The persons providing the massage services are not the primary sponsors of the event.


Registration with the Police Department:

Under the ordinance, all individuals and businesses who conduct massage-related business within the City of Santa Cruz must register with the Police Department.  There are several ways to become registered.  Business owners must register their business as well as list each employee who provides massage related services.  Each employee or persons who perform massage outside of a business must also register.  Before registering with the Police Department, each business or individual must obtain a business license with the city. More information regarding obtaining a business license is available on the City’s website or please contact the City Finance Department at 831-420-5070.

Business Owner Registration:

Each business owner must register with the Chief of Police through the Police Department.  Owners must complete an application and include the following items:

(1) Legal name of the massage business.

(2) Address and telephone number of the massage business.

(3) Legal names of all owners of the massage business.

(4) A list of all of the massage business’s employees and independent contractors who are performing massage and their CAMTC certification or certificate of exemption.

(5) Residence address and telephone number of all owners of the massage business.

(6) Business address and telephone number of all owners of the massage business.

(7) The form of business under which the massage business will be operating (i.e. corporation, general or limited partnership, limited liability company, or other form).

(8) Each owner-operator of the massage business who is not a CAMTC certified massage practitioner shall submit an application for a background check, including the following: the individual’s business, occupation, and employment history for the five (5) years preceding the date of the application; the inclusive dates of such employment history; the name and address of any massage business or similar business owned or operated by the individual whether inside or outside the county of Santa Cruz and its incorporated cities.

(9) For all owners, a valid and current driver’s license and/or identification issued by a state or federal governmental agency or other photographic identification bearing a bona fide seal by a foreign government.

(10)   For all owners, a signed statement that all of the information contained in the application is true and correct; that all owners shall be responsible for the conduct of the business’s employees or independent contractors providing massage services; and acknowledging that failure to comply with the California Business and Professions Code sections 4600 et seq., and local, state, or federal law, or the provisions of this chapter may result in revocation of the business’s city registration certificate.

CAMTC Certified Individual:

CAMTC certified individuals will still need to complete an application with the Police Department.  The individuals will need to provide their CAMTC identification card and certificate.  A brief background will be conducted with CAMTC to determine that the individual is still in good standing.  The individual will receive notification that their registration is complete and will be registered to conduct business within the city limits.  There is no fee for this process.

Non-CAMTC certified Individual: 

There are three ways in which non-CAMTC certified individuals can qualify for registration under the ordinance.  The way in which an individual can qualify is dependent on training and state law recommendations.  The three levels of registration are as follows:

  1. Existing Massage Therapist/Practitioner:An individual who has less than 500 Hrs. of approved training and has conducted business within the city can register without having to attend additional training.The individual must have previous documentable two-year work history within the city limits before the passage of the ordinance; November 2016.Existing massage practitioners must register with the Police Department prior to June 1st, 2018.An existing practitioner who fails to register before this date will be required to show proof 500 Hrs. of training or current training recommendations under 4600 B&P.


  2. New Massage Therapist/Practitioner: Any individual registering who does not have a previous two-year work history within the city of Santa Cruz before November 2016 shall register as a new massage practitioner.These individuals must provide proof of 500 Hrs. of approved training to qualify.


  3. Massage Therapist/Practitioner Trainee:Any individual who has no previous work history and either no training or less than 500 hours shall register as a massage therapist trainee.The individual must register under the supervision and approval of a registered massage business owner.The owner agrees must document in writing that the trainee will work for them and the owner will provide oversight and training.This registration is only good for 2 years.After the 2 year period, the individual must show completion of 500 hours or CAMTC certification.

 Registration Process for Non-CAMTC certified individuals:

Each applicant must complete a Santa Cruz Police Department Massage Practitioner application.  Each applicant will also be screened through a criminal background process.  This will require that each individual is fingerprinted via LiveScan.  LiveScan locations will be provided with the application paperwork.  There are different processes outlined for each type of applicant as outlined above.  In addition to the application and background process, the applicants will have to conduct the following based upon the category of applicant they are:

  1. Existing Massage Therapist/Practitioner:

    (i)   Confirmation of continuous two-year history through city business license records, personal tax records, W-2’s, 1099’s and other tax and bank records;

    (ii)  The results of a criminal background check;

    (iii)  Whether the applicant has otherwise obtained any and all necessary training and certifications to practice as a massage therapist from a recognized school of massage; and

    (iv) Whether there have been any past violations of city regulations.

    (v) Exemptions for existing massage therapists will only be issued until June 1st, 2018. Renewals may be issued after this point but not new exemption permits as an existing massage therapist.

  2. New Massage Therapist/Practitioner:

    (i)  The results of a criminal background check;

    (ii) Whether the applicant has otherwise obtained all necessary training as outlined in California Business & Professions Code Section 4604 (a) and has received certifications to practice as a massage therapist from a recognized school (currently 500 hrs.);

    (iii)  Whether the applicant has any past violations in other jurisdictions as determined by CAMTC; 

    (iv) Whether there have been any past violations of city regulations; 

    (v)  Whether the applicant, or a former employer of the applicant while so employed, or a building in which the applicant was so employed, was ever subjected to an abatement proceeding due to criminal or administrative proceedings within another jurisdiction in the State of California;  

    (vi)  Whether any permit to engage in the practice of massage as a massage professional or otherwise has previously been denied applicant or revoked, and, if so, the circumstances of the denial or revocation. 

  3. Massage Therapist/Practitioner Trainee:

A massage therapist trainee must be employed by massage business that is registered and in good standing with the Chief of Police at the time that an application for registration is filed. In addition, the following shall apply: 

(i)  The massage business was an existing licensed and permitted massage business on the effective date of the ordinance enacting this Chapter; 

(ii)  The massage business or its employees have not been the subject of any previous criminal proceedings or municipal code enforcement action within the five year period preceding the effective date of the ordinance enacting this Chapter; 

(iii)  A massage therapist trainee exemption granted pursuant to this provision will be automatically suspended in the event that its massage business employer or an employee thereof is cited for any sex related; and

(iv)  A massage therapist trainee exemption shall be valid for no more than two years from the date of issuance, after which the massage therapist trainee must qualify as a certified massage therapist or an exempt therapist.

All individuals must complete an application which will require the following:

(1)    The applicant’s full name, all other names the applicant uses or has used, the applicant’s residential address, and residence telephone number; 

(2)  The name and address of the massage establishment where the applicant is to be employed and the name of the massage establishment owner (if applicable);

(3)  The names and addresses of any and all previous establishments where the applicant has been employed as a massage professional for the past two years; 

(4)  Two passport-size photographs taken within the past three months of the applicant depicting front and side views; 

(5)  A live scan or other background check as determined by the police department, to be submitted in person by the applicant; 

(6)  A copy of a diploma, certificate of graduation or transcripts of course work from an approved school showing satisfactory completion of 500 hundred hours or more of nonrepetitive curriculum, with a passing grade or better in health theory, health care, anatomy, physiology, psychology, biomechanics, or kinesiology or similar curriculum; unless applicant is applying as massage therapist trainee;

(7)  A statement signed by the owner or operator of a massage establishment indicating an intent to employ the applicant as a massage professional (unless the applicant is the massage establishment owner or operator); or that the massage owner is employing them as a massage therapist trainee.

For more information, contact Community Service Officer Brandon Lima at 420-5875, or email