North Carolina Paves the Way for Mobile Barbershops

It’s time to retrofit the barber’s pole onto a vehicle because mobile barbershops are going places in North Carolina. The new establishment license was created by the North Carolina Board of Barber and Electrolysis Examiners (Board), which published the new rules (pages 36–46 of linked document) in May. Previously, all barbering services could be performed only at stationary locations, unless permitted by the Board. Under the new rules, the Board allows barbers to operate in a vehicle as a mobile barbershop.

This blog helps you learn how to become a mobile barber—we’re covering mobile permits and inspection fees, acceptable vehicle types, required equipment, appropriate disinfectants, inspections and sanitary ratings, and monthly location reports.

Mobile Barbershop Fees
The Board has established the following fees applicable to mobile barbershop owners and operators:

  • Mobile barbershop permit or renewal: $50
  • Late fee to restore an expired mobile barbershop permit: $45
  • Duplicate copy of a license or permit: $10
  • Inspection of a newly established mobile barbershop: $120

Suitable Vehicles
The following vehicle types are permittable to operate as a mobile barbershop:

  • A motorhome
  • A self-contained, self-supporting, enclosed mobile vehicle that is at least 16 feet in length and is not a towed unit or trailer

Any vehicle used as a mobile barbershop must have sufficient room for the barber to move freely around a barber chair to safely provide barbering services. A vehicle must have proper ventilation and air circulation; an operator may use fans or an HVAC system. Mobile barbershops must display the name of the barbershop and permit number on the outside of the vehicle so that the name and permit number can be seen from 50 yards.

Storage and Equipment
Mobile barbershops must have ample and secure storage, sanitized surfaces, proper waste disposal containers, at least one vinyl or leather chair, and well-maintained equipment. Establishments must:

  • Have at least one cabinet for barbering equipment made of material that can be sanitized
  • Have safety latches for all storage cabinet doors
  • Anchor all equipment not stored in cabinets to the mobile vehicle
  • Have at least one covered container made of noncorrosive metal or plastic wherein hair clippings and other waste materials can be deposited
  • Have smooth-finished walls and floors
  • Have at least one barber chair covered with a smooth, non-porous surface that is easily cleaned, such as vinyl or leather
  • Maintain a sufficient supply of clean towels
  • Have storage space to stock clean towels, separating them from used towels
  • Ensure all barbering equipment and tools are suitable for safe haircutting and are maintained in good operating and sanitary condition

Toilets, Sinks, and Sewage
Mobile barbershops must have sinks, toilets, hot and cold running water, and comply with sewage and wastewater disposal rules. Establishments must:

  • Have clean, running hot and cold water
  • Have hot water tanks with a minimum capacity of 6 gallons
  • Be equipped with at least one functional sink available for use by barbershop personnel and clients
  • Be equipped with at least one self-contained, recirculating, flush chemical toilet with a holding tank available for use by barbershop personnel and clients
  • Provide soap and disposable towels for all sinks
  • Comply with all applicable federal, state, and local commercial, transportation, and environmental statutes and rules related to sewage and wastewater disposal
  • Cease operating when:
    • Wastewater storage capacity has been reached
    • The toilet(s) does/do not function
    • The sink(s) does/do not have clean, running hot and cold water

When considering which disinfectants to use, mobile barbershops must consider the following. Disinfectants must be:

  • Registered with the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Effective against communicable pathogens, including:
    • Human immunodeficiency virus
    • Hepatitis B and C
    • Herpes
    • Influenza
    • Human coronavirus
    • Trichophyton
    • Microsporum
    • Epidermophyton
    • Staphylococcus

Mobile Barbershop Inspections
Board inspectors may enter and inspect a mobile barbershop during regular business hours to ensure proper sanitation and administrative rules are being followed. After an inspection takes place at a mobile barbershop, an inspection report will be prepared and made available free of charge upon request by the owner or any member of the public.

During an inspection, all areas of a mobile barbershop will be evaluated, including the backstand, drawers, cabinets, closets, or other enclosures. Numerical and letter sanitary grades will be assigned to mobile barbershops. If any violations are found during an inspection, they will be communicated to the owner of the shop.

If a mobile barbershop will not be ready for inspection on a scheduled date, the owner must notify the Board. If a mobile barbershop fails to notify the Board of a change of address before an inspection, the shop must pay the inspection fee.

Sanitary Ratings
A mobile barbershop’s sanitary grade is rated in the following manner:

  • Grade A: Mobile barbershops that receive a sanitary rating of at least 90 percent
  • Grade B: Mobile barbershops that receive a sanitary rating of at least 80 percent but less than 90 percent
  • Failing grade: Mobile barbershops that receive a sanitary rating of less than 80 percent

A mobile barbershop is not permitted to operate until it receives at least a B sanitary grade upon its initial inspection. To view a full list of what items are inspected and the number value associated with each respectively, review page 38 of the linked document here.

The sanitary rating of a mobile barbershop must be posted at all times in a place visible within the establishment. The civil penalties for a mobile barbershop that fails to display its sanitary grade are:

  • First offense: $150
  • Second offense: $350
  • Third offense: $400

Monthly Location Reports
Mobile barbershops must submit a report at by the last day of each month showing where they will provide services for the upcoming month. The report must include a list of addresses where the mobile barbershop will operate and the hours when the mobile barbershop will operate at each location.

If a mobile barbershop anticipates operating at a new or different location from what is listed in the report, a revised report must be submitted. The date the report is submitted depends on how far in advance the new appointment(s) is/are scheduled. A mobile barbershop must submit a new report:

  • At least one business day before a location change if the new location is more than 20 miles away from the originally reported location
  • At least one business day in advance for a new location and time that was not on the original report
  • At least four hours before the start time reported if the new location is fewer than 20 miles away from the originally reported location

The civil penalties for mobile barbershops that fail to submit a monthly report are:

  • First offense: $300
  • Second offense: $400
  • Third offense: $500

If a mobile barbershop operates at a location on a particular date that is not included in the report, the civil penalty is $500. For a refresher on all civil penalties, click here (pages 43–46 of linked document).

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