On this page:
Massage therapy means the manipulation of soft tissue by hand or through a mechanical or electrical apparatus for the purpose of body massage. The term includes effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussion), compression, vibration, friction, nerve strokes, and Swedish gymnastics. Massage therapy may include the use of oil, lubricant, salt glows, heat lamps, hot and cold packs, or tub, shower, jacuzzi, sauna, steam or cabinet baths. Massage therapy is a health care service when the massage is for therapeutic purposes, and a licensed massage therapist may receive referrals from a physician to administer massage therapy.
Sign Up for Email Updates
Sign up to receive important notices about changes to rules, statutes, fees, examination requirements, upcoming meetings and more. Email updates are the best way for you to stay informed.
News and Updates
Notice to Educational Providers
March 31, 2020
RE: Provisions to allow Massage Therapy schools to offer practical instructions remotely.
The health and safety of all our licensees is of the utmost importance. To proactively address the concerns regarding COVID-19, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) will allow Massage Therapy schools to use technologies such as videos of hands on work, electronic learning, virtual learning, and other practices that would effectively deliver the practical portion of the school’s curriculum to ensure that a student develops the job skills and knowledge to obtain a license in Texas.
Schools must ensure that all hours are properly accounted for each student engaged in remote practical applications, in accordance with Chapter 117 and Section 117.64, including a record of attendance and time clock record. Additionally, schools must ensure the identity of the distance learning student, the student/instructor ratio limitation, and the student’s ability to be equipped with the proper tools to effectively demonstrate the practical applications.
Remote practical instruction does not include internship or apprenticeship instructional hours. TDLR’s goal is to enable schools to continue to teach their students despite the current circumstances related to COVID-19.
Licensed Schools that may be impacted by COVID-19 can notify TDLR by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of the email as “COVID-19 remote practical instruction” and provide the following information:
- School name and license number;
- Type of delivery method, including the platform, technology, or program being used for distance education;
- Verification that the school will maintain photo or video evidence to confirm the practical work attendance; and
- Type of method which will be used for tracking student attendance, including hours completed.
These provisions will remain in place until further notice.
COVID-19: Continuing Education Waived
March 24, 2020
TDLR continuing education requirements are waived for all individual licenses expiring in March, April, and May 2020. Licensees still need to submit their renewal applications, pay the required fees, and TDLR will check their criminal histories, but they will not need to complete any TDLR-required continuing education this licensing cycle. (§51.405, Occupations Code)
Note: TDLR is not authorized to waive continuing education requirements imposed by a certifying or credentialing entity other than TDLR. If a certifying entity requires continuing education to maintain certification, and certification is required for Texas licensure, then that continuing education must be completed. If the certifying entity waives continuing education or allows it to be completed on a delayed basis due to COVID-19, then you may follow the certifying entity’s policy.
Please check the TDLR COVID-19 webpage for the most up-to-date information.
Texas Massage Establishments Closed From March 20 to April 3
March 20, 2020
As of midnight on March 20, all Texas massage establishments are closed until April 3 by executive order of Gov. Greg Abbott. The closure is intended to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Important Notice Regarding MBLEX
March 19, 2020
Effective immediately, Pearson VUE, the provider of the MBLEx for the massage therapy program has closed testing centers in the United States and Canada. To learn more, view the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards Statement or visit the Person Vue webpage.
Provisions for Temporary Emergency Distance Education at Barber, Cosmetology, Driver Education and Massage Schools
March 12, 2020
The health and safety of all our licensees is of the utmost importance. To proactively address the concerns regarding COVID-19, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has enacted temporary emergency distance education provisions to allow current licensed schools to offer distance education limited to the theory hours of instruction to not exceed more than 50 percent of the course. TDLR’s temporary emergency provision is in line with the Department of Education to provide flexibilities for schools to help students complete their course work.
Courses taught by distance education will not satisfy requirements of practical (hands-on) portions of course curriculum. The goal of the department is to enable schools to continue to teach their students despite the current outbreak of COVID-19.
Licensed Schools that may be impacted by COVID-19 can notify the department by email TDLR at email@example.com with the subject line of the email as “COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Distance Education Request” and provide the following information:
- School name and license number
- Type of delivery method, including the technology or program being used for distance education
- Type of method which will be used for tracking student attendance, including hours completed
- Timed outline indicating the portion of the course or curriculum which will be completed by distance education
Temporary emergency distance education accommodations will remain in place until further notice.
Education and Examination Director
TDLR Adopts Amendments, New Rules, and Repeals to Administrative Rules
January 29, 2019
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) adopted amendments to existing rules at 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 117, Subchapter A, §117.2; Subchapter C, §§117.20, 117.21, and 117.23; Subchapter D, §117.31; Subchapter E, §117.40; Subchapter F, §§117.50 - 117.55, 117.57 - 117.59, 117.61, 117.62, 117.64, and 117.65 - 117.68; Subchapter G, §§117.80, 117.82, and 117.83; Subchapter H, §§117.90, 117.91, and 117.93; Subchapter I, §117.100; new rule Subchapter C, §117.25; and the repeal of Subchapter F, §117.56 and §117.60, regarding the Massage Therapy Program. The adopted amendments implement House Bill (HB) 1865, 86th Legislature, Regular Session (2019), HB 2747, include recommendations from the Massage Therapy Advisory Board Standard of Care workgroup, and recommendations from the Advisory Board's Education and Examination workgroup.
The adoption justification was published in the January 24, 2020 issue of the Texas Register (45 TexReg 543). The updated rule chapter will be made available upon its effective date of February 1, 2020.
TDLR Health Monitor - January 2020 Edition
January 9, 2020
Articles in this January 2020 edition of The Health Monitor include updates on:
- Update from the Executive Director on the Sunset Process
- TDLR Guidance on Senate Bill 1264
- Final Report on Senate Bill 202 Implementation
- Changes in Proctor Requirements for Hearing Instrument Fitters & Dispensers
- New Rules to Assist Licensing for Military Spouses
- TDLR to Host Midwives Educational Summit in January 2020
- Fingerprinting Requirements for Massage Therapists
- Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology Presentation for Graduating Students
- Recent Personnel Changes
The TDLR Health Monitor is a quarterly newsletter that provides news and information about TDLR’s medical and health-related programs. Archives of past editions of the TDLR Health Monitor can be viewed here.
Guidance Statement on TDI Rules Related to Senate Bill 1264
December 18, 2019
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has adopted emergency rules interpreting Senate Bill (SB) 1264’s prohibitions related to “surprise billing” (or “balance billing”). This Guidance Statement is intended to provide clear information concerning SB 1264 to Texas patients, clients, and health care providers under the regulatory authority of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).
SB 1264 prohibits surprise billing, with certain exceptions. Health care providers under TDLR’s regulatory authority who seek to exercise the exceptions to SB 1264’s prohibitions against balance billing must comply with all provisions of SB 1264, including as interpreted by TDI rules. See the TDI SB 1264 webpage for additional information. SB 1264 applies to a health care or medical service or supply provided on or after January 1, 2020.
TDLR will be responsible for investigating complaints and taking disciplinary action against TDLR licensees for violations of SB 1264, including as interpreted by TDI rules. Any person who believes that a TDLR-licensed health care provider has committed a balance billing-related violation may file a complaint online with TDLR. Additionally, TDLR and TDI will work together to ensure that any complaints filed with TDI regarding TDLR licensees will be referred to TDLR and investigated.
TDLR will be working on the development of enforcement rules consistent with SB 1264 and TDI’s rules interpreting the statute. As rulemaking moves ahead, we look forward to a transparent process and engaging the public and stakeholders on this important issue.
Online Renewal for Massage Therapists and Instructors
September 9, 2019
Starting September 9, 2019, TDLR massage therapist or massage therapy instructors can sign up for a Texas.gov account for license renewal. Once linked to an account, the new Texbadge service is a fast, easy, and fully mobile-optimized way to renew.
New Fingerprint Requirements
September 4, 2019
As of September 1, 2019, people who are applying for an initial massage therapist, massage instructor or massage establishment license or who are renewing their massage therapist, massage instructor or massage establishment license must submit fingerprints that will be used to obtain the applicant’s criminal conviction history. Under House Bill 1865 (86th Texas Legislature), all licensees must comply with the fingerprint requirement no later than September 1, 2021.
TDLR Adopts Revised Enforcement Plan
August 13, 2019
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) provides this public notice that at their regularly scheduled meeting held July 15, 2019, the Commission adopted the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation’s (Department) revised enforcement plan which was established in compliance with Texas Occupations Code, §51.302(c).
The enforcement plan gives all license holders notice of the specific ranges of penalties and license sanctions that apply to specific alleged violations of the statutes and rules enforced by the Department. The enforcement plan also presents the criteria that are considered by the Department’s Enforcement staff in determining the amount of a proposed administrative penalty or the magnitude of a proposed sanction. The enforcement plan is revised to include the penalty matrix for the Massage Therapy program.
The Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 202 (S.B. 202), 84th Legislature, Regular Session (2015), which transferred regulatory authority of 13 programs, to include Massage Therapy from the Texas Department of State Health Services to the Commission and Department. The Massage Therapy penalty matrix provides for a single range of penalties for each class to eliminate confusion and allow the industry to fully understand the penalties assessed. The penalty matrix describes the specific ranges of penalties and license sanctions that apply to specific violations of the statutes and rules enforced by the Department. This penalty matrix may differ slightly from others as the agency focuses on aligning strategic plan goals with agency resources.
The Massage Therapy Advisory Board recommended approval of the penalty matrix at their meeting held June 11, 2019. The penalty matrix was presented to the Commission on July 15, 2019 and was adopted as recommended.
Conviction Guidelines for Massage Therapy Program
October 31, 2018
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) adopted changes to TDLR’s Conviction Guidelines (guidelines) to include the Massage Therapy program.
The guidelines describe how TDLR determines whether a criminal conviction makes an applicant unsuitable for a license, or whether a conviction warrants revocation or suspension of a license previously granted. The guidelines present the general factors that are considered in all cases and the reasons why particular crimes are considered to relate to each type of license issued by TDLR.
TDLR presented the applicable guidelines to the Massage Therapy Advisory Board at its meeting on July 17, 2018 and received the Board’s recommendation of approval. The Commission adopted the amendments to the guidelines at its meeting on September 25, 2018, pursuant to Texas Occupations Code §53.025(a).
Adoption of Repeal of Duplicate Administrative Rules
April 20, 2018
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the repeal of inactive rules regarding the Massage Therapists program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 147, §§147.1 - 147.55).
The adoption justification may be viewed on TDLR’s web site.
Adopted Administrative Rules
April 20, 2018
The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted amendments to existing rules regarding the Massage Therapy program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 117, Subchapter A, §117.2; Subchapter C, §117.20; Subchapter E, §117.40; Subchapter F, §§117.50, 117.60, and 117.62; Subchapter G, §117.80 and §117.82; Subchapter J, §117.111; and new rules Subchapter B §§117.10 - 117.14).
The adoption justification may be viewed on TDLR’s web site and the adopted rule chapter will be made available upon its effective date of May 1, 2018.
MBLEx Exam Changes Effective July 1, 2018
April 11, 2018
The content of the massage therapist licensing exam is changing. The primary change, effective July 1, 2018, is that applicants will no longer be tested on the history and culture of the profession. A full list of all upcoming changes to the exam content is available on the FSMTB Exam Content page. There are no changes to the testing process.
Proposed Repeal of Duplicate Massage Therapy Administrative Rules
February 2, 2018
The Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 202 (S.B. 202), 84th Legislature, Regular Session (2015), which transferred regulation of the Massage Therapy program from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). To complete the implementation of S.B. 202, TDLR transferred the previous Massage Therapy program rules from Title 25, Chapter 140, Subchapter H to Title 16, Chapter 147. TDLR is now proposing the repeal of the transferred rules located at Chapter 147, §§147.1 - 147.55. The rules proposed for repeal are obsolete.
On August 18, 2017, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) adopted its own set of rules for the Massage Therapy program located at 16 TAC, Chapter 117. The Commission’s rules were effective November 1, 2017, (42 TexReg 4991).
This proposed repeal does NOT affect the current Massage Therapy program rules which were adopted by the Commission on August 18, 2017, located at Title 16, Chapter 117.
TDLR will accept comments on the proposal until March 5, 2018. Comments may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notice for All Schools and Educational Programs Licensed by TDLR
September 1, 2017
As of September 1, 2017, House Bill 1508 requires that all entities providing educational or instructional programs that prepare a student for an occupation or vocation requiring a TDLR license to:
- Inform the student or program participant that eligibility for a TDLR license could be affected by the person’s criminal history;
- Notify students and participants that TDLR is responsible for having in place guidelines regarding a license applicant's criminal history, and to include information on an applicant's ability to be licensed under those guidelines;
- Provide students with information on other state or local restrictions that would affect the student’s eligibility for an occupational license issued by TDLR;
- Inform students of the student's right to request a criminal history evaluation letter from TDLR;
- Provide all persons who enroll in their program with notice of the requirements as described above, regardless of whether or not the person has been convicted of a criminal offense.
An educational entity or training program operator who fails to provide this information to a person who is enrolled in their course may be liable for tuition or application fees paid by any student who is denied a TDLR license due to the existence of a criminal conviction.
Advisory Board Meetings
CANCELED - Next Meeting - April 20, 2020
The Massage Therapy Advisory Board meeting scheduled for Monday, April 20, 2020 is canceled. When the meeting is rescheduled, the date will be posted online.
November 19, 2019 Meeting
Transition from DSHS to TDLR
1. When did the transfer happen?
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) assumed all activities relating to the Massage Therapy program including licenses and renewals, customer service and enforcement on November 1, 2017.
2. Now that the transfer is complete, will I need to get a new license issued by TDLR?
No. The license you have now, issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), remains valid until its expiration date. When you renew, you will receive a TDLR license.
3. Have the rules changed?
Yes, TDLR adopted rules for all of the transferred programs. Most of the newly adopted rules are very similar, but some changes have been made. The TDLR health profession rules became effective on November 1, 2017.
4. What is going to happen with open complaints and cases?
If you filed a complaint with DSHS or had a complaint filed against your license and it was not resolved by the transfer date, TDLR assumed responsibility for the case. You should have already received notification by mail that your complaint was transferred to TDLR.
5. How do I stay informed about changes impacting me?
You have several options to stay connected:
- Email updates - Sign up for email updates to receive notices about rules, the law, fees, examination requirements, meetings and more. Email updates are the best way for you to stay informed.
- Meetings - TDLR’s advisory board and Commission meetings are available to watch online live or later at your convenience.
- Facebook and Twitter - TDLR has a Facebook page and Twitter account dedicated to TDLR Health Professions.
6. Why was my license expiration date extended? Will I have the same expiration date in the future?
To ease the transition, DSHS extended the expiration date by two months for licenses previously set to expire in September, and October, and November 2017. For example, if your original expiration date was September 30, your new expiration date is November 30. If your license was extended, you will continue to renew your license in the new expiration month in the future. Licenses in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey were also extended by DSHS.
7. Will I have to renew on a different schedule?
You will renew on the same schedule unless your license expired in August, September or October 2016. Licenses expiring in those months were extended for two months to ease the transition from DSHS to TDLR. In addition, licenses in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey were also extended by DSHS. If your license was extended, you will now renew in your new expiration month for future renewals. Your license expiration date will not return to your original expiration month.
8. Why were licensing programs transferred from DSHS to TDLR?
The transfer is the result of a change to Texas law. In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 202, which authorized the transfer of thirteen licensing programs from the DSHS to TDLR.