West Virginia Increases Educational Hours and Announces Establishment Licensure Rules

Update: August 2, 2023

On July 28, the West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensing Board (Board) adopted the proposed rules below without amendment. ABMP urges all establishment owners to be in compliance with the new rules and apply for a Board-issued massage establishment license before October 1, 2023. Sole practitioners are not required to obtain an establishment license .

The West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensing Board (Board) proposed new licensing requirements that would increase minimum training hours to 625 from 500 hours, which is required due to the passage of Senate Bill 665 (SB 665) in March 2023. The proposed rules were drafted to match the hour requirements in SB 665. Elevate your voice by emailing Iinda_lyter@frontier.com before July 27, 2023, to show your support of, or opposition to, the proposed rule. This may be an opportunity to offer your opinion on how to incorporate the extra 125 hours into recommended massage curriculum.

In addition, the Board recently adopted new massage establishment licensure rules and fees, also due to SB 665. All massage establishments must be licensed by October 1, 2023. As always, ABMP has your back. In this web post, we summarize the new establishment licensure rules, alerting those who need a license and those who don’t.

Establishment Licensure
Let’s Define It
The new rules add to the definition of massage establishment to include mobile businesses and create a new definition for sole practitioner and license or establishment license.

Massage establishment—a place of business where massage therapy is practiced at a physical site or premise, including mobile businesses, where licensed massage therapists are employees or contractors practicing massage therapy on clients.

Sole practitioner—a licensed massage therapist, who is not an employee or contractor of the sole practitioner or establishment, who provides massage therapy to clients at a specific location, such as a rental space, home office, or off-site or on-site space.

License or establishment license—a license issued by the West Virginia Massage Therapy Licensure Board to a business that offers massage therapy services for hire.

Let’s Follow the Rules
On or before October 1, 2023, all massage establishments must apply for a Board-issued massage establishment license. After October 1, 2023, it will be against the law to operate a massage business without an establishment license, unless exempt from this rule. A place of business is not required to have an establishment license if:

  1. The business is owned by the federal government, state, or a political subdivision of the state
  2. At their place of business, a licensed massage therapist practices as a sole practitioner
    • In this situation, if the sole practitioner uses a business name or an assumed name, the practitioner must also include their full legal name or license number in each advertisement and each time the business name or assumed name appears in writing

The new rules list guidelines a massage establishment is required to follow. A massage business must:

  • Post the Board-issued establishment license in a place visible to the public, the license of every massage therapist employed by the business, and any other license(s) required by any state, municipality, or local governmental entity
  • Maintain and secure initial consultation documents, session notes, written consent documents, and related billing records for each client
  • Maintain a current list of all business employees and/or contractors at the location; the list must include the full name of each employee or contractor and their respective license number and expiration date

Beginning July 2025, all establishment license holders who are not licensed massage therapists must complete two hours of continuing education on West Virginia massage therapy laws and rules every two years. Proof of continuing education certificates must be submitted to the Board by October 1, 2025, and be submitted with renewal applicants every two years thereafter.

Let’s Absolutely Avoid This
A massage establishment cannot:

  • Employ or enter a contract with an individual to perform massage services who is not a West Virginia-licensed massage therapist and who is not a US citizen or a legal resident with a valid work permit
  • Allow a nude, or partially nude, employee to provide massage therapy or other massage services to a client
  • Allow any individual, including a client, license holder, contractor, or employee, to engage in sexual contact in the massage establishment
  • Allow any individual, including a license holder, employee, or contract employee, to practice massage therapy in the nude, or in clothing designed to arouse or gratify the sexual desire, of any individual
  • Allow any individual, including a license holder, employee, or contract employee to live on the premises of the massage establishment

A licensee of a massage establishment may be disciplined, such as license suspension or revocation, for violating any of these rules or applicable state laws, rules, or policies.

The new rules state that all fees, or any money to be paid to the Board, must be in the form of a personal check, certified check, or money order. The Board will not accept cash payments. The new rules also assign initial and renewal fees to massage establishments:

  • Initial establishment application fee: $100*
  • Renewal establishment license fee: $100

*Initial establishment fees must be paid by October 1, 2023, and then renewed every two years along with a Board-issued renewal form.