Denver Begins Accepting Applications for Massage Business License

Published on May 23, 2022

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses has launched the online application for massage business licensing. This license will be required in the City and County of Denver starting July 1 for most massage businesses. The newly required license was signed into law by Mayor Michael B. Hancock in July 2021 to give the Denver Police Department an additional tool to root out human trafficking at illicit massage businesses. Massage businesses can get more information and apply for the license on this website. The license must be renewed yearly, and new license applications require an inspection by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, Community Planning and Development, and Denver Fire Department. Denver Police might also conduct compliance inspections if human trafficking complaints are received.

"In our effort to be a business-friendly community, licensing is required in Denver only for businesses that have a potential impact on community health, safety, and welfare," said Molly Duplechian, Executive Director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. "Unfortunately, with human trafficking found by law enforcement in Denver and neighboring communities, action was needed to hold businesses accountable that are involved in illegal activities. This new license provides the needed support for law enforcement working to end human trafficking in Denver."

Since 2019, the Denver Police Department has encountered approximately 25 potential victims of sex trafficking linked to illicit massage businesses. In that same time, 12 individuals have been charged in Denver with felonies related to human trafficking violations.

"The new massage business license gives us a much-needed tool in our efforts to combat illicit massage businesses and prevent crimes of human trafficking from occurring to persons in Denver," said Sgt. Aaron Kafer with the Denver Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit. "A key attribute of this effort is to prevent illicit businesses from opening. We recognize many of the individuals presently working at illicit massage businesses may be experiencing exploitation rising to the level of human trafficking. This new approach strives to be victim-centered by focusing enforcement actions on the persons profiting from illicit massage schemes."

There is an initial application fee of $500 and a yearly licensing fee of $250 to cover city compliance inspections and license administration. A massage business is any place of business where any massage is practiced or administered in exchange for remuneration. There are some exemptions to the licensing requirement, including licensed massage therapists practicing as a solo practitioner, public and private massage schools, training rooms of a professional or amateur sports organization and dance troupes, facilities where licensed health care professionals provide massage services, and state-licensed cosmetology businesses that provide massage services. The list of requirements and exemptions can be found on Denver's massage business licensing website.

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies requires individual licensing for massage therapists, but there is no state licensing requirement for businesses where massage therapy is practiced.