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SFHC Article 29

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Massage Licensing FAQ

Massage Legislation

Information about:

Permit for your establishment

Outcall Massage Permit

Approved Schools

Program Contact

Phone: (415) 252-3800
Fax: (415) 252-3894

Please Note:

Fees are non-refundable

Bounced check fees are $50.00

We Do Not Accept Cash

Police Background check expires after three (3) months

You are responsible for paying your yearly license fee.

If you have a change of address or wish to cancel your permit, you need to inform us in writing at:
DPH - Environmental Health.
Massage License Program,
1390 Market Street, Suite 210,
San Francisco, CA 94102
You must also notify the Tax Collector.

Massage Licenses and Permits: Frequently Asked Questions


What do I need to do in order to open a massage establishment?

Before applying for a permit with the Health Department look through the structural requirements for a massage establishment prior to looking at possible locations.

Once you have a couple of possible locations, then you should go to City Planning at 1660 Mission Street to determine if zoning will allow your proposed type of use. Besides the use, you may want to ask the City Planning representative about the location within the building you are thinking of leasing. There may be some issues with handicap accessibility if there isn’t an elevator in the multiple floored building or if the restroom facilities are not handicapped accessible.

When those issues (or non-issues) are dealt with, then you are ready to apply for an establishment permit with the Health Department. There are two (2) types of “fixed location” establishment permits. You could have either a General  Massage Establishment or Sole Practitioner Massage Establishment permit. The differences between the two are that:

  • Sole Practitioner Massage Establishment permit - requires that the owner of the Massage Establishment shall be certified or licensed with CAMTC or DPH as a Massage Practitioner. The owner of the Sole Practitioner Massage Establishment can have only 2-4 other Massage Practitioners at the massage establishment.
  • General Massage Establishment permit- does not require you to be a practitioner. Allows for you to have multiple practitioners.


Do the hours of operation – 7 AM to 10 PM– apply to the Outcall Massage Services as well?

Yes, per Section 29.31(m) - Hours of Operation.  No Massage Business shall operate or provide Massage services during the hours between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.


Is there a background check required on each partner in a partnership or each >10% shareholder in a corporation?

Yes, per Section 1909(d), “The same permit and criminal history information required of individual applicants shall be provided for each officer, director, and stockholder holding >10% of stock of the corporation, or for each partner, including limited partners.”


Are Sole Practitioner Massage Establishments required to have the same structural requirements for the self-closing toilet room doors and separate changing room for employees?

Per Section 29.27. REQUIREMENTS FOR MASSAGE FACILITIES. All proposed massage facilities must comply with the following requirements:

(a) Toilet Rooms and Other Rooms. Toilet rooms shall be provided for clients in convenient locations.

(1) Construction of rooms used for toilets, as well as rooms used for tubs, steam baths, and showers shall be made waterproof with hard nonabsorbent materials that are easily cleaned and shall be installed in accordance with the San Francisco Building Code.

(2) Plumbing fixtures in toilet rooms as well as rooms used for tubs, steam baths, and showers shall be installed in accordance with the San Francisco Plumbing Code.

(3) Urinals may be substituted for toilets after one toilet has been provided.

(4) Doors to toilet rooms shall open inward and be self-closing.


What kinds of permits do I need to get if I conduct chair massages at my leased space and at a patron’s office or home, flea market, farmer’s market, or weekend festival?

You will need at least 2 and maybe 3 - 4 permits to conduct your business at the various locations you’ve mentioned.

  1. FIRST, you'll need a valid Massage Practitioner's Permit issued by CAMTC.
  2. SECOND, you’ll need to get a Massage Establishment Permit with an outcall massage service permit.


What happens when the permit holder leaves a Sole Practitioner Massage Establishment? Is the permit transferable to one of the remaining practitioners?

The permit is not transferable. One of the practitioners or the remaining practitioner would need to apply for his or her own Sole Practitioner Massage Establishment permit.

Will establishments be required to be American Disability Act compliant?

Contact Department of Building Inspection: (415) 558-6088 Customer Service Division-1st Floor, 1660 Mission Street, 94103.


If I have an establishment and wish to send staff out as “outcall”, do I and each staff member have to apply separately as “outcall masseuse” or could they operate under my establishment permit?

If your establishment does not currently have an outcall permit, then the practitioners would need to have their own outcall practitioner permits. If  your establishment prefers, you can apply for an outcall massage permit that would cover all of your establishment's practitioners.


I perform massage as a part of my salon practice. It’s only about 20% of my business. What do I need to do to continue my business under the new ordinance?

You will need both a Practitioner's License and an establishment permit. There are two types of Massage Establishment Permits: General Massage Establishment, Sole Practitioner Massage Establishment.


Can I use my CAMTC permit to own/open a Sole Practitioner Massage Establishment?

Yes, if you have a current vaild Massage Practitioner's License from CAMTC or SFDPH. Your employees must also be current with their massage practitioner license.


Do I need to complete and submit the Workers' Compensation Declaration if I am applying for an Establishment or Outcall permit?

Yes. All businesses, including a self-employed business, must comply with the Workers' Compensation laws of the State of California to obtain and maintain a valid permit to operate from the Department of Public Health. You must either maintain a certificate of consent to self-ensure for workers' compensation or maintain a certificate of insurance for workers' compensation and submit the declaration along with your application to obtain a permit.


I don’t own a business, but I am a massage therapist. How do I get a permit?

If you are going to be or are already working for a permitted establishment, then you need only obtain a Practitioner’s permit from CAMTC. This allows you to work at any permitted establishment or permitted outcall massage service.


How long does it take to obtain a massage permit?

It depends on the specific circumstances for each applicant.


If I have a permit from another state, can I use it to practice massage in San Francisco?

No, you must obtain a massage permit from the CAMTC to practice massage in San Francisco.


What if I want a new massage photo ID card?

You must make an appointment with our office and pay $25 check or money order for a new card.


How do I renew my massage license?

When a statement is received from the Tax Collector’s Office towards the end of the year, you must pay the yearly license fee either in person at City Hall, Tax Collector’s Office, Room 110 or mail in your payment to Tax Collector’s Office, P.O. Box 7427, San Francisco, CA 94120. Checks must be made payable to ‘San Francisco Tax Collector’.


What if I fail to pay my yearly massage license fee?

It is the practitioner’s responsibility to pay the yearly massage license fee. In order to keep your massage permit active and valid, you must renew it yearly. Your massage account will become delinquent if you fail to pay the yearly fee. Once an account is declared delinquent it will be closed. If an account is closed, you will need to obtain a massage permit from CAMTC. We will not reactivate a delinquent account once it has been closed.


What if I leave the country, do I have to pay my yearly massage license fee?

If you wish to keep your permit active and valid, yes you must pay the yearly license fee.


I had a change of address and never received any bills from the Tax Collector’s Office regarding my massage license renewal.

It is the practitioner’s responsibility to update the San Francisco Health Department with any change of address by submitting a Massage Address Change form.  A massage license must be renewed yearly. You must also notify the Tax Collector.


How do I change my name on the massage photo I.D. and/or permit?

You must submit an official change of name document to our office (divorce papers, marriage certificate, etc). Our office will notify the Tax Collector's Office. If you wish to obtain a new massage photo I.D. with your new name, schedule an appointment with us and submit a $25 check or money order made payable to the S.F. Health Department.