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2024 marks 10 years since the fingerprint requirement for LMTs was implemented and the largest group of LMTs will be required to retain their fingerprint data in Florida’s Care Provider Background Screening Clearinghouse this year. Fingerprint Retention Renewal occurs every 5 years after initial fingerprint data submission and LMTs receiving notification through US mail. The Fingerprint Retention Renewal notification letter provides instruction on the retention process, and most important, the time frame for each individual LMT to renew their fingerprint retention data. This time frame is approximately 60 days and renewal must be completed within the noted window. Those that do not will need to resubmit their fingerprints.


At the April 24, 2024 FL Board of Massage Therapy Meeting, Stephanie Webster, FL BoMT Executive Director, reviewed HB197, which was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on May 6, 2024 and goes into effect July 1, 2024.

Eliana Swanson, Chief of Investigative Services Unit, relayed the specificity of the new law in helping stop activity that is of direct harm to the public. The massage establishment inspection form will be changed to reflect the following:

  1. Massage establishment window covering
  2. Required front window signage
  3. Fully clothed non-opaque material for all licensed massage therapists
  4. Legible English or Spanish records for all employees (see definition of employee in HB197)
  5. Legible English or Spanish records for all treatments provided to all patients and retained for 1 year
  6. Affixing method for required 2”x2” LMT’s picture
  7. Documents required of ALL employees in the establishment and DOH requirement to notify federal immigration office for failure to present required documents

Another massage establishment inspection form change would cover the specifics of language changes to 480.0475. 480.0475 (2) “A person operating a massage establishment may not use or permit the establishment to be used as a principal or temporary domicile for, to shelter or harbor, or as sleeping or napping quarters for any person unless the establishment is zoned for residential use under a local ordinance.” If establishments have furniture for sleeping or napping, that may indicate the subject massage establishment is harboring persons permanently or temporarily. While the new statutes may have a future impact on prosecution services, the specific delineation and expansion of situations eligible for Emergency Suspension Order will immediately address illegal acts. A massage therapy establishment license AND the massage therapist license involved in illicit activity will be suspended for the offenses defined in F.S. 456.074 (4). Prosecuting people illegally harboring persons will be more forthright in contrast to past cases where it was evident persons were living in a massage establishment but were not prosecutable. All these changes are aimed at identifying massage businesses that use the massage therapy practice as a front for human trafficking and other illegal activity.

No Massage Establishment owner/manager want to experience the ramifications of an Emergency Suspension Order because one person on staff chooses to misuse the therapist-patient relationship in sexual misconduct. Licensed massage therapists that know of illegal activity must report it. Those that do not report illegal activity are in violation of 456 or 480 and their license can be disciplined. All discipline is public record. 64B7 30.002 (2) (r) – Section 456.072(1)(i), F.S. Failing to report to the department any person who the licensee knows is in violation of Chapter 456 or 480, F.S. This statute goes on to set disciplinary guidelines for knowing information of a licensed massage therapist’s illegal activity and not reporting it. Discipline can result in a “reprimand and $250 to $1,000 fine and suspension”.

Crystal A. Howard, LMT (MA29672)
FSMTA Executive President

Crystal A. Howard is an Esthetician and Licensed Massage Therapist with a practice in Orlando, Florida. She is NCBTMB Board Certified and holds licenses in Florida and Illinois. Crystal has trained and worked with numerous product lines, developing, demonstrating, and implementing treatment protocols both within her practice and for other companies. Her knowledge and experience in both professions allow for greater understanding and support of the spa industry. She currently serves as Executive President for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association (FSMTA). Crystal also serves as the Regulatory Committee Chair on the Florida Spa & Wellness Association (FSA).