State cuts needless red tape from barbershop booths


The new state occupational licensing overhaul (House Bill 409) passed this session and signed by Gov. Chris Sununu on August 8 eliminated a little-known, triple-license requirement for barbers and others in the beauty and grooming industry, serving as a perfect example of how license requirements can easily get out of hand. 

Both barbers and barbershops have to be licensed in New Hampshire, a common practice nationally. But for years New Hampshire also required a “booth license” for independent barbers who rented a booth in a licensed barbershop.

Like hair stylists, barbers can be either employees or independent contractors. It’s not uncommon for salons and barbershops to rent booths to stylists and barbers who work for themselves. 

In these situations, the state required three licenses: 1. The barber had to obtain a barber’s license; 2. The barbershop had to be licensed; 3. The barber who rented a booth inside the already licensed barbershop also had to get a separate booth license. 

This booth license applied to all barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, and estheticians in New Hampshire looking to rent space.

These independent practitioners had to pay a two-year, $75 fee and subject their individual booth to a state inspection—even though the shop itself was already subject to licensure and inspection.

House Bill 409 lifted that unnecessary triple licensure, among many other changes. HB 409 reorganized the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) and streamlined the state’s regulatory regime for occupations in the beauty and grooming industry.

Since the governor signed the bill earlier this month, licensed beauty and grooming professionals renting a space in a licensed shop no longer have to get a separate booth license. 

The Keene Sentinel reported that practitioners are already expressing gratitude for the change. Jeanne Chappell, Keene Beauty Academy president and chair of the state board that regulates barbers, cosmetologists, and estheticians, said the booth license was duplicative.

“This will save time and money, and also you won’t have to hold two licenses to be a booth renter,” she told The Keene Sentinel. 

Eliminating unnecessary and repetitive licensing paperwork was the goal of HB 409, and immediately after passage the bill is already providing relief.

This regulatory unburdening comes on the heels of HB 594, which allowed the OPLC to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses. Barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, and estheticians are among the many practitioners who can quickly get licensed in New Hampshire if they hold a valid, current, and substantially similar license in another state. 

Occupational licensing requirements are sold as a necessary health and safety measure. Often, though, they create obstacles to employment without providing any measurable health or safety benefit. The now eliminated booth license was a perfect example of how these regulations can generate costs and burdens without improving health or safety.