Beauty salons in Memphis are subject to local and state regulations. Cosmetologists in salons that provide natural hair styling, chemical treatments and shampooing must earn a state license to practice their trade. Owners of beauty salons must also apply for state and local licenses to legally run their business. The Tennessee Board of Cosmetology oversees regulation of salons and cosmetologists.

Step 1.

Complete at least 1,500 hours of education in a licensed cosmetology program. Memphis has a dozen licensed cosmetology schools. A list of all accredited schools in the state is available on the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology’s website.

Step 2.

Schedule an appointment to take the state board cosmetology exam. Tennessee uses PSI Exams Online, a third-party vendor, to administer its board test. Appointments can be made via phone or online. The exam includes a written and practical section. You must be at least 16 years old to sit for the test and finished with your educational training. There is a fee to take the exam.

Step 3.

Apply for a cosmetology license and pay the application fee. The form to apply is available online. It takes the state approximately four weeks to process a license application. A cosmetology license is not required if you do not personally intend to practice cosmetology but all of your employees must undergo required training and licensing.

Step 4.

Find a location for your salon. Once you choose a space and purchase equipment make sure you comply with state requirements for equipment, storage, sanitation, restrooms, workstations, water supply and entrances. The state board lists the details of these requirements online.

Step 5.

Choose a name for your salon. Search the online business name availability database of the Tennessee Secretary of State to make sure no other business in the state is using the name.

Step 6.

Apply for a state cosmetology shop license and pay the application fee. The license applications are available online and must be notarized. The state will visit your shop to inspect it for adherence to its list of requirements. You cannot open for business until your shop passes inspection. If you plan opening a shop that specializes in services such as manicures and skin care, you must apply for a license for each of those activities as well.

Step 7.

Apply for a certificate of use and occupancy from the Shelby County Construction Code Enforcement Office if your salon is in a commercial area of Memphis. This department also regulates outdoor signage and can help you determine if your business signs are in compliance with the law.

Step 8.

Apply for a business tax license with Shelby County Clerk. The application is available online.

Step 9.

Acquire a Federal Tax Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service in order to pay federal taxes. Register with the Tennessee Department of Revenue to pay state taxes.

Step 10.

Appoint a manager who is a licensed cosmetologist and is at least 18 years old to run the shop. This is a state requirement.

Step 11.

Renew your individual cosmetologist license and cosmetology shop license every two years. The state sends out renewal forms before your license expires.