How To Get a Tattoo License

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Do I Need a Tattoo License?  

Once you have finished you tattoo apprenticeship, the next step in your career will be to obtain a tattoo license…

In the United States of America, there is no federal law regulating this art we all love called tattooing. Instead, the requirement to obtain a tattoo license will vary from state to state, even from county to county. So it’s important you research the specific state you are going to be working in.

To make sure you are 100% legal, you should reach out to your local health boards and talk to them about the local rules and regulations concerning tattooing. They will be more than happy to give you all of the information you need to keep their citizens safe.

Basic Laws


To be blunt, the basic laws concerning a tattoo license are all over the map.

You have states like Maryland where there is no requirement to get a tattoo certification, only that the tattooist comply with all relevant health codes.

And then there are states like Texas and New Mexico that require you to either register with the state or get a license through their board of health.

States like Virginia specifically leave it to the civil and local governments, while many other states simply have no laws or regulations on the books at all.


All tattooist are, however, under the jurisdiction of OSHAand as such they must receive initial and annual training on the hazards and the protective measures to be taken to minimize the risk of occupational exposure to blood borne pathogens.

Certain Requirements

In the states and counties where you are required by law to obtain, and maintain a tattoo license, the requirements to obtain your license are something you need to be fully aware of.

Some states just require you to be blood borne pathogen certified (which you should be anyways to be in compliance with OSHA) and 18 years or older, while other states, will require a certain amount of apprentice hours, also, you could be required to take a written exam. Some states just want you to pay a small fee and call it a day.

How Much Does a Tattoo License Costs?

So how much a tattoo license is going to cost you? Well, you guessed it. The costs of a license are going to depend on what your local government charges. I’m sure you're starting to see a trend with this information.

As for the cost, though, depending on where you are, the license can run you between anywhere from $25 all the way to $250, and some last for three years while other expire yearly.

Always Double Check!

If you have any question at all regarding your local government's policies, be sure to reach out to their local board of health. Also, your mentor that you apprenticed under should be able to point you in the right direction or fully go over the local laws with you. Be sure that any time you move locations you reach out to the proper authorities to make sure you are in compliance.

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