Kentucky Proposes New Massage Therapy Rules

The Kentucky Board of Licensure for Massage Therapy (Board) has proposed new and amended rules that primarily affect the following areas: fees, exams, applications, license reinstatement, complaint processes, ethics, and continuing education. The rules were drafted based on Senate Bill 79 that passed the Kentucky legislature this session. ABMP has summarized the rules for you below.

You can submit commentary to the Department of Professional Licensing showing your support or opposition to the proposed rules. ABMP has a sample advocacy letter you may use to help write your statement. Written comments will be accepted through November 30, 2021, and should be sent to Leah Cooper Boggs at

A public hearing on these rules will be held at 8:00 a.m. EST November 29, 2021. Members of the public can use this link to attend the meeting by video conference with the password 270127. You can also call toll-free 888-822-7517 to attend and use the conference code 511232.

201 KAR 42:020. Fees (page 1)
The proposed rules increase the fees for multiple license categories and implement a tiered license reinstatement policy:

  • Initial massage therapist license fee: $200 (currently $125)
  • Biennial massage therapy renewal fee: $200 (currently $100)
  • Late renewal up to 60 days after the license expiration fee: $225 (currently $150)
  • Issuance of an inactive license fee: $50 (new)
  • Annual inactive renewal fee: $50 (currently $35)
  • Late inactive renewal up to 60 days after the license expiration fee: $70 (currently $52.50)
  • Late inactive renewal 61–90 days after the license expiration fee: $85 (currently $70)
  • Initial Certificate of Good Standing for a massage therapy program fee: $125 (new)
  • Annual renewal of a Certificate of Good Standing for a massage therapy program fee: $75 (new)
  • One-time Certificate of Good Standing fee: $50 (new)*

* This is only applicable to out-of-state schools who have a graduate applying to the Board for licensure as a massage therapist and complete the Certificate of Good Standing application for the period of time the graduate was in attendance.

If a license has been expired for 90 days or more, a licensee must apply for license reinstatement by paying the late renewal fee of $250 along with one of the following reinstatement fees:

  1. $100 for applications for reinstatement submitted after 90 days but before one year after the license expired
  2. $150 for applications for reinstatement submitted after one year but before two years after the license expired
  3. $200 for applications for reinstatement submitted after two years but before three years after the license expired
  4. $250 for applications for reinstatement submitted after three years but before four years after the license expired
  5. $300 for applications for reinstatement submitted after four years but before five years after the license expired

The proposed rules will not reinstate a license if more than five years have passed since the license expired. However, a person may reapply for a new license if they meet the current requirements for licensure.

It is our understanding that the fees are being increased to cover board expenses and that fees had not been increased for an extended period. The state summarizes this need as such:

"The necessity of this administrative regulation: This administrative regulation is necessary to update the fee structure for massage therapy. The fee structure was originally set in 2003. The current revenues of the Board of Licensure for Massage Therapy do not cover their expenditures and they have several significant unpaid bills. In the last legislative session, the legislature recognized this problem and removed the fee cap."

201 KAR 42:035. Application process, exam, and curriculum requirements (page 7)
In addition to the MBLEx, the proposed rules will approve an exam administered by:

  • The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)
  • A certifying agency approved by National Commission on Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

The proposed rules will require those applying for licensure to submit fingerprint-supported background checks performed by the Kentucky State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The background check language in the 2021 bill was not correct regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation so the bill is returning to the legislature to have that language corrected.

201 KAR 42:040. Renewal and reinstatement (page 13)
The proposed rules amend the section regarding license reinstatement for expired licenses. An expired license can be renewed within 90 days of expiration if the applicant submits 12 hours of continuing education—a decrease from the currently required 24 hours—and completes all other renewal requirements.

If a license has been expired 91 days or more, but less than five years, a licensee can file an Application for Reinstatement form. To do so, a licensee must complete one hour of continuing education for every six months the license has been in an inactive state and pay the applicable fee. If a licensee has been convicted of a crime since the license expired, they must submit a fingerprint-supported background check. A revoked license will not be reinstated.

Similarly, if a licensee obtained inactive status within 90 days of a biennial renewal date, the licensee must provide proof of 12 continuing education hours for renewal and pay the renewal fee.

201 KAR 42:050. Complaint procedure and disciplinary action (page 22)
Complaints must be made in writing, identify the accuser, include names and contact information, and have specific details regarding the complaint. Complaints without all required information will not be processed.

The proposed rules eliminate the language about redacting names and personal information from complaints once they are received.

201 KAR 42:060. Code of ethics and standards of practice for massage therapists (page 29)
The proposed rules elaborate on proper draping technique for massage therapists. Before beginning a massage, the therapist must explain to clients the draping techniques that will be used. Clients must be given a clean drape large enough to cover the buttocks, genitalia, and chest—these body parts must remain covered during the session, unless the purpose of the session is therapeutic treatment of these specific areas, except for the genitalia, which must always remain covered.

Moreover, a massage therapist must not provide treatment to the anus or anal canal, including, but not limited to, colonic irrigations and enemas. Massage therapists cannot provide treatment to the genitals, including, but not limited to, erectile dysfunction or pelvic floor issues.

201 KAR 42:110. Continuing education requirements (page 37)
The proposed rules decrease the number of required continuing education hours from 24 to 12.

Presenters of relevant massage therapy programs or academic courses may earn six CEs per renewal cycle, a decrease from 12.

A maximum of six CE hours may be carried over into the next renewal period, a decrease from 12.

Massage therapists who use pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy or microcurrent devices must prove their training to use the device. Training must provide clear guidelines for proper application, indications, and contraindications. Manufacturer training will not be considered CE unless approved by the Board.