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Hair Cutters Face Higher Licensing Fees

May 9, 2011

By Meredith Rigsby
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia officials want a bigger cut when barbers, hair stylists and other beauty-services professionals get their state licenses.

The Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology has proposed more than doubling the licensing fees for individuals and facilities it regulates.

Barbers, cosmetologists and nail technicians now pay $55 for a cosmetology license, which is valid for two years. The board wants to raise that to $140.

“It’s reflecting the increased cost of doing business,” said Mary Broz Vaughan, the director of communications, legislation and consumer education at the state Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

The licensing fees for salons and other facilities also would jump – from $90 to $225. And the licensing fees for beauty schools would go from $120 to $255.

The Board for Barbers and Cosmetology needs the fee increases because the agency is self-supporting: It relies on fees – not taxes – to pay for all its operations, from inspectors’ salaries to website management.

The board hasn’t adjusted its fees since 2002. During that time, the General Assembly has assigned the agency more responsibilities – requiring the board to oversee wax technicians, tattoo artists, body piercing and esthetics (skin-care services).

The agency regulates about 73,000 individuals, businesses and schools. Licensing and other regulatory activities help protect the public’s health, safety and welfare – for example, by ensuring that barber shops and hair salons are clean and sanitary and that beauty-services professionals are well trained.

“The Board has incurred an increase in costs for enforcement activities, Information Systems development costs, and application processing and customer support services,” the agency stated in a document requesting the higher fees.

The current schedule of fees doesn’t generate enough money to offset the agency’s expenses; the board is running a deficit of about $100,000 a month. “Without the final fee increases, the Board’s deficit will continue to increase and the Department will not collect adequate revenue to pay for operations,” the agency’s justification says.

Proposed regulations must undergo public comment and several layers of review – so it can take a long time for a fee increase to get final approval. As a result, the board must look four to eight years down the road when adjusting its fees.

The current proposal took two years to reach the executive branch review – the final stage of the approval process.

In April, the proposal was approved by Jim Cheng, Virginia’s secretary of commerce of trade. The licensing fee increases are now waiting for Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature. The higher fees would become effective immediately upon the governor’s approval.

Sidebar story and slide show: Cosmetology in Richmond: A Cut Above



On the Web

For more about the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology, visit

The proposal listing the new and old fees is at

Rationale for the Fee Increases

In seeking to raise its licensing fees, the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology noted that it “must establish fees adequate to support the costs of Board operations and a proportionate share” of funding for its parent agency, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

“The Board for Barbers and Cosmetology provides protection to the safety and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth by ensuring that only those individuals that meet specific criteria set forth in the statutes and regulations are eligible to receive a barber, cosmetologist, nail technician, barber shop, cosmetology salon, nail salon, barber school, cosmetology school, or nail school license, or barber instructor, cosmetology instructor, or nail technician instructor certification, or temporary permit.

“The Board is also tasked with ensuring that its regulants meet standards of practice that are set forth in the regulations. Without adequate funding, complaints against regulants, brought to the attention of the Board by citizens, could not be investigated and processed in a timely manner. This could provide an opportunity for a dishonest barber, cosmetologist, nail technician, barber shop, cosmetology salon, nail salon, barber school, cosmetology school, nail school, barber instructor, cosmetology instructor, nail technician instructor, or temporary permit holder, waiting for action to be taken by the Board, to continue to work, harming additional citizens.”

Q&A about Cosmetology in Virginia

Q: Which beauty-services professionals need licenses in Virginia?

A: State law says, “No person shall offer to engage in or engage in barbering, cosmetology, nail care, waxing, hair braiding, tattooing, body-piercing, or esthetics without a valid license” issued by the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology.

Q: Do I need a license just to braid hair?

A: Yes. Section 54.1-703 of the Code of Virginia mandates that a license is required for hair braiding.