In New York State, nail salons must be licensed through the New York State Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services. To obtain a license, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- Complete an application: Complete the Appearance Enhancement Business or Area Renter application provided by the Division of Licensing Services. You can find the application form and additional information on the New York State Department of State website.
- Individual Licenses: All nail technicians working in the salon must hold a valid New York State Appearance Enhancement license. To obtain this license, they must complete a state-approved training program, pass a written examination, and pay a licensing fee.
- Business location requirements: Your nail salon location must meet specific requirements, such as adequate lighting, proper ventilation, and sufficient space for service areas and storage.
- Health and safety regulations: Nail salons must adhere to health and safety regulations set forth by the New York State Department of Health, including proper sanitation practices and the use of approved products.
- Workers’ Compensation and Disability Insurance: Nail salons must provide Workers’ Compensation and Disability Insurance coverage for their employees.
- Bond or liability insurance: Some municipalities may require that nail salons obtain a bond or liability insurance as part of the licensing process.
- Pay appropriate fees: The licensing fee for an Appearance Enhancement Business or Area Renter varies depending on the type of license and the number of years the license will be valid. Check the current fee schedule on the New York State Department of State website.
It’s essential to stay informed about any changes in regulations or additional requirements. Visit the New York State Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services website for the most up-to-date information on licensing requirements for nail salons in New York.
A cosmetology license allows you to provide service to the hair, head, face, neck or scalp of a human being, including but not limited to shaving, trimming, and cutting the hair or beard either by hand or mechanical appliances and the application of antiseptics, powders, oils, clays, lotions or applying tonics to the hair, head, or scalp, and in addition includes providing, for a fee or any consideration or exchange, whether direct or indirect, services for the application of dyes, reactive chemicals, or other preparations to alter the color or to straighten, curl, or alter the structure of the hair of a human being. It is the responsibility of licensees to understand the Appearance Enhancement Law.
Term of licensure is four years.
Applicants are required apply for their license on the New York State e-Licensing system. You must have a NY.gov ID account. If you do not have an account, you should go to the MY NY.gov Online Services page to sign up for an account.
To apply for a Cosmetology license, you must:
Be 17 years old
Complete a 1,000 hour approved course of study and pass both the New York State written and practical examinations. The affirmation of New York State Approved Schooling section of the application must be completed by your school director as proof of successful completion.
Be examined by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. The physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner must complete and date the Health Certification section of the application. You must submit your application within 30 days after the health certification is signed and dated.
There are several ways to apply for a license:
1) New York State Education and Examinations (eligible for temporary license)
You must complete a 1,000-hour approved course of study and pass both the New York State written and practical examinations to get a license to operate in this state. As proof of successful completion of schooling, you must have the Affirmation of New York State Approved Schooling section of the application completed by your school director.
Effective June 17, 2020, all operator applicants qualifying based on the completion of NYS education must complete a 1- hour course on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness. Visit this page to complete the course before submitting your application.
After your application is reviewed and accepted, you will receive information that explains the exam process in detail.
2) Education Outside of New York State (eligible for temporary license)
The Department of State may waive the New York State schooling requirement if you can document an equivalent level of schooling from another state or country. You must submit all three of the following documents:
a school certificate;
a school transcript listing subjects and hours completed; AND
a current, original Certification of Licensure from your state board or, if not licensed, a current Certification from your state’s board verifying the hours claimed.
After your application is reviewed and accepted, you will also be required to pass both the New York State written and practical examinations to obtain a Cosmetology license in this state. You will receive information that explains the exam process in detail.
3) Experience: 5 Years Outside of New York State
Any individual having five years of legal experience in an occupation equivalent to cosmetology may apply for a New York State license by submitting satisfactory evidence of education and experience.
Within the United States experience:
An original certification from the licensing agency you were previously licensed with.
Two experience statements filled out by former employers, co-workers, clients, that can claim your experience in the state for at least five years. These experience statements must include EXACT dates (month and year of start of service and month and year of end of service), location(City, State, shop name), and specific services that you performed.
Copy of tax returns which indicate cosmetology as occupation
Outside of the United States experience:
Evidence may include but is not limited to:
Official certification from the licensing authority in your country or verification from the Consulate that a license is not required to practice this occupation in your country.
Detailed letters from employer(s) in your country specifying EXACT dates of employment, location and specific services that you performed.
Detailed letters from your client(s), or coworker(s), in your country specifying EXACT dates of service, location and specific services you performed.
Copy of passport which indicates cosmetology as occupation, drivers license, workbook with cosmetology experience, or any photo identification.
Copies of course curricula and diplomas/certificates for education completed in your country.
Copy of tax returns which indicate cosmetology as occupation.
After your application is reviewed and accepted, you may obtain a Cosmetology license in New York State without examination or further education.
An applicant who holds a Cosmetology license in another jurisdiction may obtain a Cosmetology license in New York through endorsement or reciprocity. Refer to the Cosmetology endorsement or reciprocity lists to determine if you qualify for licensure based on endorsement or reciprocity.
An applicant must submit an original certification from the jurisdiction where s/he holds an equivalent license.
5) Previous New York State Licensure
An individual who fails to file an application and fee for renewal within five years of the expiration date cited on the individual’s license shall be ineligible for such license until he/she passes a written exam. Proof of previous licensure may be required.
There are fees associated with you applying for your Cosmetology license. You may pay by American Express, MasterCard or Visa.
$40 initial application fee
$40 renewal fee
$15 written exam fee
$15 practical exam fee
$10 six month temporary license
$10 six month temporary license renewal
$10 late renewal penalty
$0 change of personal name
$10 change of address
$10 duplicate license/registration request
If you are applying for an initial application and a temporary license, you may combine the fees and remit one $50 application fee.
Appearance Enhancement Written Examination Procedures
Applicants are required to schedule their appearance enhancement examinations on the New York State e-Licensing system. In order to schedule your examination, you must have a NY.gov ID account. If you do not have an account, you should go to the MY NY.gov Online Services page to sign up for an account.
Persons with disabilities who require accessibility information should call 518-474-4429.
What To Bring
1. A form of government issued signature identification which must be photo-bearing. Your identification MUST BE CURRENT (not expired) and from the following list:
state issued identification (ex. non-driver ID)
IDNYC Card (NYC Identification Card)
United States Passport
Employment Authorization Card (issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
United States INS issued ID
Certificate of US citizenship
Brazilian, Mexican, Honduran, and Ecuadorian Consular ID
2. A copy of your examination confirmation, which should include all of your examination information, including your candidate number.
Examination Site Policies
Cellular phones, beepers and any other electronic devices MUST be turned off during the exam.
Dictionaries, books, other reference materials, large bags and briefcases are not allowed at the exam site. Do not bring these materials to the exam site as there is no place to store them.
Eating, drinking or smoking is not permitted at the exam site. If you bring food or beverages, you will be asked to dispose of them before entering the exam site.
Visitors, guests and children are not permitted at the exam site.
Firearms are not allowed at the exam site. Please contact our exam unit at (518) 473-2731 for questions pertaining to this policy.
Any person found using notes, books, or other aids; giving or receiving help; removing examination materials or notes from the exam site; causing a disturbance or engaging in practices contrary to the rules of proper examination conduct will be dismissed from the exam site. Any decisions regarding disciplinary measures will be made by the Exam Supervisor at the Department of State.
If you cancel an appointment, you will forfeit the examination fee.
If you wish to change your appointment, you must reschedule the appointment at least six days before your scheduled examination date. Once you are within the six-day period, you cannot reschedule your examination.
If for any reason you do not appear on your scheduled examination date, you will forfeit the examination fee.
It is recommended you arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of the exam. If you arrive at the examination site after the specified starting time, you will not be admitted into the examination and will forfeit the examination fee.
Examination results are reported as either passed or failed; you will not receive a numerical score. Passed examination results are only valid for a period of five years. Results will not be given over the phone, so please do not call Licensing Services for them.
You will be notified by email once the examination results are available for viewing.
Examination results will be available online by utilizing MY NY.gov Online Services.
If you fail the exam, you can schedule another examination by utilizing MY NY.gov Online Services.
About the Exam
The written exam is multiple-choice and based on the pre-licensing curriculum.
Applicants will be allowed 2 1/2 hours to complete the test. The allotted time begins at the conclusion of the instructions.
What does the practice of Cosmetology cover?
The practice of Cosmetology includes providing the services of natural hair styling, esthetics, nail specialty and waxing and also includes providing services to the hair, head, face, neck or scalp of a human being, including but not limited to shaving, trimming, and cutting the hair or beard either by hand or mechanical appliances and the application of antiseptics, powders, oils, clays, lotions or applying tonics to the hair, head, or scalp, and in addition includes providing, for a fee or any consideration or exchange, whether direct or indirect, services for the application of dyes, reactive chemicals, or other preparations to alter the color or to straighten, curl, or alter the structure of the hair of a human being.
Who must apply for a Cosmetology license?
Any person practicing Cosmetology as described above is required by law to have a Cosmetology license. A Cosmetology license will not permit you to operate a business; a separate business application must be completed and a separate business license obtained.
Do I need a physical to be licensed?
Yes. You need to be examined by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner to apply for a license in Cosmetology. Your physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner must complete and date the Health Certification section of the application. You must submit your application within 30 days after the certification is signed and dated.
Is there reciprocity or endorsement with another states?
Yes. There is reciprocity and endorsement with other states specified:
• Reciprocity • Endorsement
Is there a NYS Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee?
Yes. NYS Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee
How do I register for an account within the NYS License Center (NYSLC)?
In order to register for an account within the NYS License Center (NYSLC), you must first register with My NY.gov. If you are not currently registered with My NY.gov, from our website http://www.dos.ny.gov/licensing/licensecenter.html Click on the ‘Create my Account’ link, this brings you to the My NY.gov registration site; select ‘I need a NY.Gov ID’ and follow the registration for My NY.gov. Once you are registered with My NY.gov, select the NYS License Center option from the options available to you on My NY.gov. In the NYS License Center, click on the ‘Account Management’ link in the top right hand corner. Complete the required fields and this data will pre-populate on all new applications created using your account. Once you have completed and saved this data, click on the ‘Home’ tab to proceed.
What if I already have a My NY.gov Account?
If you are already registered with My NY.gov, go to My NY.gov and sign in, then select the NYS License Center option from the options available to you on My NY.gov. This will create your NYS License Center Account. In the NYS License Center, click on the ‘Account Management’ link in the top right hand corner. Complete the required fields and this data will pre-populate on all new application created using your account. Once you have completed and saved this data, click on the ‘Home’ tab to proceed.
How do I apply for a license in NYS License Center?
To apply for a license at NYS License Center, you must create an account or login to your existing account. Follow these steps to apply for your license online:
• Register for an Account or Login to your account (see “How do I register for an account within the NYS License Center (NYSLC)” above)’
• Once you are logged in to NYS License Center, on the ‘Home’ tab select ‘Apply now for a new license or permit’
• Follow the application instructions provided online
• Upload any supporting documentation
• Make payment and print confirmation page
You will be able to log in to your account and view the status of your application.
How do I create an additional license online?
To apply for an additional license, login to your account and click on the ‘Manage My Licenses’ tab and then select the ‘Apply now! For a New License or Permit’ link. Read and accept the terms and conditions and the system will guide you from there.
I am applying online for an operator license, how do I notify the department of my physical examination?
All Appearance Enhancement or Barber Operator applicants (which includes Barber Apprentice applicants) need to be examined by a physician, physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner to apply for a license. The license application must be submitted within 30 days after an examination by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, and must include their name and contact information on the application. The Health Certification Form (DOS-1948) must be completed and can be downloaded from the Department of State website. Within the online application, you must utilize the information contained on the completed Health Certification Form. You are required to enter information from this form into the health certification fields within the system. Please note: This completed Health Certification Form is subject to audit by an investigator to ensure compliance with this requirement. Evidence of this form must be maintained on your work premises for audit purposes.
If I apply online for my initial license, should I also mail my application?
No. Applicants who apply online do not need to submit their application or follow up paperwork to our office unless the applicant is sent an email or a letter specifically requesting additional documentation.
I submitted my application online, but I do not have a scanner, can I submit my supporting documentation in the mail?
Yes, submit your application confirmation page, which includes your application number, along with the supporting documentation.
What is the process for verifying my education taken at a NYS School?
When you apply online using the NYS License Center, you must enter your school’s curriculum code. Those schools participating in the online certification program will affirm the completion of the course through the NYS License Center. For schools that are not participating in the online certification program, when you reach the “affirmation of NYS Schooling” section of the online application, you must upload the affirmation that was provided by your school that contains the required verification information.
If you do not upload the affirmation, you will be required to submit it by mail along with the confirmation page which includes your application number. Important: A delay in the school verification may affect your temporary license status.
Why do I need to affirm a child support statement?
A child support statement is mandatory in New York State (General Obligation Law) regardless of whether or not you have children or any support obligation. Any person who is four months or more in arrears in child support may be subject to having his or her business, professional and driver’s licenses suspended. The intentional submission of a false written statement for the purpose of frustrating or defeating the lawful enforcement of support obligations is punishable under §175.35 of the Penal Law. It is a class E felony to offer a false instrument for filing with a state or local government with the intent to defraud.
How long can my application remain “pending”?
A saved application that has not been submitted will remain pending for 6 months. A submitted application with no additional activity will remain pending for one year.
How do I check the status of my application?
You may track the status of your application by logging in to your NYS License Center account. On the ‘Manage My Licenses’ tab, the process of your application is tracked in the ‘Status’ column in your list of records.
How do I schedule my exam?
Exams must be scheduled online*. After your application is approved, an email will be sent to the email address provided on your application. The email will contain a link where you may schedule your exam.
Click the link, log in to your NYS License Center account and you are brought to the record for your application. Scroll down to the ‘Examination’ section of the screen and click on the sideways arrow to expand the examination data. Select the ‘Schedule an Examination’ link. From here you may review the ‘examination scheduling policy’ and select the type of exam you would like to schedule for that application. Search to find an exam provider or select an exam from the list.
A $15 non-refundable fee is due at the time you schedule your exam.
*If you have submitted the appropriate documentation to request special testing arrangements, a representative from the Division of Licensing Services will contact you with your exam schedule.
What if I need special testing arrangements?
The Department of State will provide special testing arrangements if you have a documented learning disability or any physical, mental or psychological disability. On your application you must indicate that you need special accommodations and complete the Special Testing Arrangements Request form (DOS-1591) available on our website. You must also submit supporting documentation from a physician, other qualified professional or evidence of prior accommodations from a school or other institution describing your condition and an explanation of any modifications requested.
Does it matter if I take my written or practical exam first?
It does not matter which order you take your written and practical exams. You must have at least one passing grade should you need to renew your temporary license.
What if I need to cancel or reschedule an exam?
Cancelling a scheduled exam results in a forfeit of paid fees. You may reschedule an exam if it is more than 6 days before your original exam date (there is no cost to reschedule). However, if the original exam date is less than 6 days, you cannot reschedule the exam. If you do not appear for a scheduled exam, you forfeit your exam fees.
How do I cancel or reschedule my exam?
Under the ‘Manage My Licenses’ tab you see a list of your records. Click on the record number for the license you wish to cancel or reschedule the exam for. Scroll down to the ‘Examination’ section of the record data and click on the arrow (small triangle) to open the examination section of the record. Scroll down to see the list of all scheduled exams you are enrolled in and under the ‘Actions’ link select ‘Reschedule’ or ‘Cancel’ as appropriate. Follow the steps for the selection you chose.
How do I view my exam results?
You will be notified by email once your exam results are available. You must login to your NYS License Center account to view your results under the Examination section.
What happens if I don’t pass either my written or practical exam? Can I renew my temporary license?
No. You must have a passing mark on either your written or practical exam to renew your temporary license. You may continue to schedule your exam online through NYSLC, but you may not be actively practicing Appearance Enhancement during this time.
What is an Amendment?
An Amendment is a change of information transaction that can be completed in NYS License Center. This includes the following amendments:
Address Change Amendment
Change of Supervising Barber Amendment
Nail Trainee Change of Supervisor/Business
Close Business Amendment
Contact Information Change Amendment
Duplicate License Amendment
Name Change Amendment
How do I file an Amendment to my license online?
Log into your account. Go to ‘Manage My Licenses’ to view your records. Under ‘Action’ click ‘Amendment‘ next to the record you wish to amend. Select the Amendment Type; this includes the following Amendments:
Address Change Amendment (An Address Change Amendment may be filed when you are changing your home, mailing, or business address)
Change of Supervising Barber Amendment
Nail Trainee Change of Supervisor/Business
Close Business Amendment
Contact Information Change Amendment:
Contact Information Change Amendment allows you to change the following:
Social Security Number
Date of Birth
You must provide a brief description of the reason for your change request. *Note: When changing your Social Security Number and/or date of birth you will be required to provide documentation in order for these changes to be processed.
Duplicate License Amendment
Name Change Amendment (documentation required)
How do I change my home address associated with my license?
Go to NYS License Center to complete an Address Change amendment. Log into your account. Go to ‘Manage My Licenses’ to view your records. Under ‘Action’ click ‘Amendment‘ next to the record you wish to amend. Select ‘Address Change Amendment’ and follow the instructions provided in the online application.
How do I change my name associated with my license?
A Name Change Amendment may be filed for a change in your personal name. Go to NYS License Center to complete a Name Change amendment. Log into your account. Go to ‘Manage My Licenses’ to view your records. Under ‘Action’ click ‘Amendment‘ next to the record you wish to amend. Select ‘Name Change Amendment’ and follow the instructions provided in the online application. You will be required to provide documentation.
How do I request a duplicate copy of my license?
To request a duplicate copy of your license, go to NYS License Center and log into your account. Go to ‘Manage My Licenses’ to view your records. Under ‘Action’ click ‘Amendment‘ next to the record you wish to amend. Select ‘Duplicate License Amendment’ and follow the instruction provided in the online application.
Can I update my name and/or address on my renewal?
No. You must complete an amendment online separately at NYSLC to update your name and/or address.
My License has expired, should I submit a new application?
No. If your license status is ‘expired’ you should NOT submit a new application, you should renew your existing license. You should register for an account and claim your existing record. Once you have claimed your record, your license will be available to renew. Instructions for creating an account and claiming a record can be found at http://www.dos.ny.gov/licensing/lc-instructions.html . Do not submit a new application.
Why must I renew online?
Appearance Enhancement and Barber licenses must be renewed online. Using online services provides a quicker turnaround time on your renewal and it allows you to view and access your renewal records throughout the renewal/license process.
How can I add my email address to my existing license(s) so I may receive emails when it is time to renew?
Once you have claimed your records
Click on “Manage My Records”
Click on Amendment link on your license record:
select Contact Information Change Amendment; click continue application;
Individual or Business will show up for Contact Type to Change, click appropriate box then click continue application
Click on Email Address, it will bring up a box to insert your email address and a box for an explanation of why you are changing your information.
Insert your email address and add a brief explanation in box below it such as “I am adding my email address to my records”. Click continue application.
A list of records to change will appear, be sure to place a check on all records, then click continue application,
It gives you an opportunity to upload documentation (not required), click continue application
a review screen will appear, verify information and click continue application
A confirmation box will appear that states your amendment has been submitted.
How do I renew my license online?
Your license expiration date is printed on the license. You are eligible to renew your license three months prior to the expiration date. Once you create an account and claim your record, you can login to your NYS License Center account. Select the ‘Manage My Licenses’ tab to see your list of records, the status of your license shows as ‘About to Expire’. Under the ‘Action’ column, click on ‘Renew Application’, complete the renewal application, including uploading any documentation you are instructed to provide. Review your completed information and check out. After submitting payment you receive a confirmation that your application has been successfully submitted. This does NOT necessarily mean that your renewal has been approved. When your application is approved you will receive an additional email notifying you that your renewal has been issued.
If my license has expired can I renew online?
Yes. Your NYS License Center account is always available for you to log into and find out the status of your license and perform license transactions. Your renewal application is generated three months prior to expiration and the renewal link remains available for you to access and to renew your license until your license becomes inactive.
What if my license is inactive?
This means that your license has been expired for over 5 years and you are no longer eligible to renew. If your license status is inactive, you must reapply.
How do I know my license was renewed successfully online?
Once you submit your online renewal for processing, you receive a Confirmation page indicating that your renewal has been submitted along with an email confirming your renewal. This does not mean your license is renewed. Your renewal application is reviewed to make sure it is complete and meets the qualifications for renewal. You will receive an additional email upon issuance of your license.
You may track the status of your renewal on the ‘Manage My Licenses’ tab. The process of your renewal is tracked in the ‘Status’ column in your list of records.