Elements of a Massage Therapy Related Ordinance

Learn what you must and should have in a baseline massage therapy related ordinance. 

Ordinances are increasing in frequency across the country as communities attempt to exert control over the practice of massage therapy through the creation of establishment licensing fees and related requirements.

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) does not oppose fair and reasonable establishment licensing. In order for the association (national or chapter) to support massage therapy legislation, however, the following content and conditions are must have elements of ordinance language:

  • A preamble/statement of intent and purpose of the regulation.

  • Definitions of terms to be used within the ordinance. The state’s Massage Therapy Practice Act shall serve as the guideline for these terms and definitions for uniformity of language.

  • Proof of a current, valid massage therapy license issued by the state.

  • Proof of liability insurance coverage for both the establishment as well as therapist. Name and address of establishment owners/partners and any associated corporation.

  • Municipality chain of command and authority granted in regard to complaints, investigations, and license revocations.

  • Reasonable fees that do not place undue financial burden on massage therapy practitioners.

Must Not Have:

  • Language will not include mention of adult/erotic entertainment, prostitution, human trafficking, massage parlor or other illicit and/or illegal activities covered under the state’s criminal code, as those activities are not associated with licensed, educated and professional massage therapists.

  • There shall not be any language directing the dress or hygiene of the massage therapist that is not consistent with the state rules and regulations.

  • There shall not be any requirement for a doctor’s examination, health screening or health certificate.

  • There shall not be a directive for unlocked doors.

  • Shall not require a second, duplicative criminal background check when the state practice act requires.

  • Shall not use protected titles or defined scope of practice unless in reference to licensed massage therapists.

  • Should not require statements from registered voters as a means of assessing moral character.

  • Unreasonable restrictions on hours of operations not consistent with other healthcare professions.

Should Have/May Have:

  • List of businesses/professions exempted due to possession of an occupational license under a state entity that is not the Massage Therapy Board.
  • List of exempted modalities as defined under your state’s Practice Act.

  • Fair and reasonable inspection requirements occurring at or shortly after the time of application, for the purposes of public protection and sanitation.

  • Language inclusive of solo massage practitioners who use their residence as a massage establishment.

  • Any language referencing draping requirements shall use appropriate and inoffensive language.

  • Record-keeping requirements as outlined by your state’s practice act.