Permit Exemptions


Permit Exemptions

If you touch people for pay in SF and are not otherwise exempted, as described below, you are probably under the authority of the SF Massage Ordinance. If you are interested in seeing a practice exempted that is not described below (Rolfing, anyone?), please send your rationale for exemption directly and immediately.

  1. Permits are not required for practitioners who are already state licensed or certificated in California as health care practitioners who are performing massage as part of their health care practice. This would include medical doctors, acupuncturists, nurses, chiropractors.
  2. A permit is also not required of state-licensed barbers, cosmetologist, estheticians, or manicurists, as long as they are only doing the amount of massage allowed in their scope of practice.
  3. Non-profit organizations with a legitimate federal tax exemption are exempt from paying the filing and annual fees, however, they, and their practitioners, still have to apply for the required permits at the Department of Public Health.
  4. Dance Therapists/Teachers, Yoga Teachers, Personal Tainers, and Martial Arts Instructors are exempt from this regulation as long as the only touch they do is within the scope of practice of their profession. In other words, if they try to run a massage business under the guise one of these occupations, they will still have to get the appropriate permits.

The City Attorney’s office has reviewed information submitted about various somatic and bodywork modalities that believe they should be exempted. The following practices are currently exempted:

  • Feldenkrais
  • Polarity Therapy
  • Touch for Health
  • Jin Shuin Do
  • Body-Mind Centering

The Director of DPH is allowed to make regulations more specifically describing who is excluded from the law. As soon as I hear the definitive word from DPH, I will post the approved exempt practices.