When is a Massage Therapist License Needed: Does the Type of Massage Impact Licensing Requirements?

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In the modern world, it's rare to find someone who hasn't sought the services of a massage therapist at some point. These services are sought for various reasons. Some seek relaxation through massages after a stressful week, while others use it for treating ailments or as a preventive measure against illnesses. Often, massage is considered a complementary treatment method that should be administered by a qualified professional. Typically, these professionals include physiotherapists, neurologists, or other medical practitioners closely involved in restoring the musculoskeletal system. However, there are instances when doctors may prescribe massage as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for patients with specific conditions or injuries.

Frequently, doctors or administrators of professional medical institutions offering rehabilitation, therapeutic, and preventive care may question the necessity of licensing for such activities. In May 2023, a client approached us with plans to establish her own medical facility, where she aimed to provide medical assistance to patients, administer therapeutic massages, and more. She recognized the need to provide medical services to patients and also engage in voluntary health insurance programs, as this service is quite popular in Ukraine and can cover massage sessions. Following discussions with the client, understanding her situation and requirements, and analyzing various medical specialties, our team concluded that a license for conducting economic activities in medical practice was necessary in such a scenario.

Today, we would like to explain how, at the initial stage, you can understand whether a license is needed for your activity and whether you have the opportunity to work without it.

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When is a Massage Therapist License Required: Exploring the Most Common Types of Massage

Let's delve into when exactly a massage therapist needs a license to conduct business activities in medical practice, and when they do not. We'll start by looking at the types of massages and their specific purposes. Today, we'll focus on just two general categories, but it's worth noting that there are over 40 types of massages worldwide, making it a vast field.

What Qualifications are Needed for Relaxation Massages?

First, let's discuss the most common type of massage — relaxation massage. Typically offered in various spa salons, fitness centers, sports complexes, and similar venues, relaxation massages aim to help individuals unwind and enhance their physical and emotional well-being. However, the question arises, “What qualifications are required for individuals to provide relaxation massages?”

Relaxation massages can be performed by both medical professionals and individuals without medical backgrounds, provided they have completed training in professional massage techniques. In such cases, a license for medical practice is not mandatory. Nowadays, there are numerous training programs, certification courses, and other specialized courses available to help individuals pursue their interests in this field.

Who Is Authorized to Perform Therapeutic Massage?

The second type of massage we'll discuss is therapeutic massage. This form of massage can be administered in medical facilities as well as in wellness or spa centers, similar to the relaxation massage we covered earlier. However, stricter requirements apply to both the setup of the workplace and the qualifications of the specialist. Please note: therapeutic massage must be conducted by a qualified physician, typically a physiotherapist, and falls under mandatory licensing. This means that obtaining a medical license is necessary.

Improper execution of therapeutic massage can pose risks to the patient's health. Therefore, having a medical license ensures that the recipient of the service receives proper education from a physician, training in safely performing the massage, and, most importantly, reduces the risks of improper technique or harm to the patient.

If, after considering the above information, you realize that a medical license is necessary for you, we suggest moving on to the next, more important information.

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How to Obtain a Massage Therapy Business License

So, what do you need to obtain a massage therapy business license? Where should you start?

1. A registered business entity is a prerequisite for obtaining the license. You must register your business entity. Approach this process with special attention, as it's crucial not only to register the business but also to choose the appropriate tax regime. 

Massage services typically fall under value-added tax (VAT). Therefore, consulting with a tax expert who understands taxation intricacies is vital for the success of your venture. We often encounter situations where physicians or institution managers are unaware of such nuances, which can be crucial in avoiding problems in the future.

2. You need premises that meet all the requirements and State Building Standards (SBS). Previously, massage rooms had strict requirements regarding layout and size. However, with the introduction of the new SBS V.2.2-10:2022, effective from 2023, the requirements for massage rooms have been relaxed. Now, the area not specified by the SBS can be determined by a medical assignment. However, it's essential to adhere to the current practices of the Ministry of Health and have the necessary medical equipment for operation.

3. Hiring Qualified Medical Personnel.

As mentioned earlier, only medical personnel can perform therapeutic massages. Therefore, when hiring physicians, it's crucial to conduct thorough interviews, verify medical documents, and ensure that the specialist is authorized to provide therapeutic massage services to patients.

4. Preparation of Documents and Submission to the Ministry of Health. Properly completing the document package is the most crucial step. The quality of the information provided to the Ministry of Health will determine the outcome of the licensing decision. Our sincere advice is to seek assistance from a specialist who not only prepares the documents effectively but also provides qualified answers to all your questions regarding your business activities.

For those aspiring to open their own massage studio or offer massage services within an existing establishment, we are prepared to provide comprehensive support, including:

  • Analysis of all the documentation related to your establishment, where you plan to offer massage services, will help determine its compliance with legislative requirements.
  • Providing comprehensive consultations on the opening or acquisition of a medical facility, considering all aspects of the legal process.
  • Preparing all necessary documents for registration, obtaining a license, or making changes to an existing license.
  • Ensuring legal support for your establishment after obtaining the license, addressing all legal issues, and providing consultations for further development.
  • Researching potential situations and developing strategies in case of complaints from patients or clients.
  • Training medical staff on proper behavior during inspections and providing consultations on other aspects of their work.

Our extensive experience in this field, spanning over 15 years with over 80 licenses obtained in the last 3 years alone, attests to our reliability and high level of professionalism. If you seek not only legal assistance but also a reliable partner, don’t hesitate to contact us!

You can find the cost of obtaining a license for medical practice here.

The cost of legal support for medical institutions can be found here.

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Publication date: 15/02/2024

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