How To Get A Tattoo License

How To Get A Tattoo License: In-Depth Guide Through Your Tattoo Artist Journey

So, your dream and goal for a career are to become a tattoo artist? Let’s just start by saying that you’re at the right place! Becoming a tattoo artist is a notoriously hard thing for any talented artist and tattoo enthusiast. But, it’s doable, of course. You just need the right guidance, a little bit of persistence, and you’ll get there.

Now, considering that different states have different requirements, we’ll try to tackle the most common requirements for a tattoo license and point out states in which you may encounter a different license procedure. Either way, let’s get you through this journey so you are ready for what the journey awaits.

How To Get A Tattoo License (Florida, Texas, California, And Many Other Cities)

get a tattoo licence
Credit: @ashatanktattoo

Why Do I Even Need a License?

To become a professional tattoo artist, you are required to get a tattoo license working in every state, or even outside the country. The tattoo license is designed to ensure the highest quality of tattoo services as well as to control and prevent the spread of infectious diseases, which can easily happen if the tattoo artist is untrained or unfamiliar with the transmission of diseases and their prevention.

The tattoo license is required by law for every business that operates as a tattooing, piercing, or body art business. Without a valid license, the tattoo artist cannot operate and will be forbidden to operate if an enforcement officer doesn’t get a valid copy of the tattoo license on display during the annual inspection.

What Makes Me Eligible For a Tattoo License?

Every state has a set of requirements, or eligibility criteria, created and supported by law which clearly defines what is it that you need to do in order to get a tattoo license. For example;

  • If you’re self-employed, or you operate individually or as a part of a business, a tattoo license will be required. Otherwise, you will be heavily fined.
  • If you want to provide services and treatments like skin tattooing, you must carry out your work in a safe and hygienic environment. This is one of the main ways you can prevent the spread of infection among customers or employers.
  • And finally. According to state law, you are required to operate in a safe and hygienic environment and facility, carry out the procedures safely and operate using proper, safe, clean equipment.

These are just some of the criteria required by law. The requirements created for you to be eligible for a job in the tattoo industry vary from one state to the other. But, the general criteria boil down to the aforementioned three things; proper working conditions, safe and hygienic environment, and safe and clean tools.

It is also important to the notion that in some cases, once you’ve received your license, you cannot use the same license in another state. If you want to practice tattooing in another state, you need to get an additional license, which you’ll achieve by contacting the local council/authorities and aks for further information.

So, How Do I Get a Tattoo License?

Okay, so here’s the main part of our topic; getting a tattoo license.

For this part, we will take New York City as an example of the licensing procedure. But, if you want to know the tattoo licensing laws for your own state, make sure to check out the detailed, state law requirements.

The first thing you need to do is submit an application for the Tattoo Artist License, as well as register for the Infection Control Course. You will have to pay the license fees as well; for example, in New York City, you will pay $100 for a two-year tattoo license, and half of the amount if you’re applying for a temporary tattoo license (for a seven consecutive day period in which the license is applied for). The Infection Control Course training fee is $26 (with an additional 2.49% fee for all online payments).

You can submit both applications in person or online. For a detailed application, procedure, make sure to visit, where you will find a detailed guide for online application as well as all the documents required for the license as well as for payment.

For an in-person application, you will also need to gather all the application forms by downloading them from the aforementioned page. You will gather all the documents, including the application form, the supplemental forms, and other required supporting documents (all explained on the page), alongside payment and submit them to the NYC Licensing Center.

The required documentation for tattoo permits includes Permit application, Permit fee, proof of home address, photo ID, proof of Sales Tax Collecting Authority, proof of Incorporation, payment of outstanding fines for DOHMH violations, etc.

But, what about other states?

To get a tattoo license in, let’s say, Oklahoma, you will pay significantly more for the tattoo license fees. You will pay a $250 license fee (for each type of license pursuing). Once you get a license, you will have to wait for two years to get the Test letter, which means you’ll have to take the Tattoo/Body Piercing Competency Examination (upon your own scheduling, and your own choice of one of the approved testing locations).

The testing fee will be $200.00, paid directly to Career Tech. In order to successfully pass the test, you’ll have to get a minimum score of 70%.

When it comes to Florida, for example, the procedure is pretty similar, but the cost of the fees differs significantly. Here, you’ll have to pay a $60 fee for the completed Application for Tattoo Artist License.

If you want to renew your tattoo artist license, you will also have to pay $60, taking into consideration the $25 reactivation fee, which amounts to a total of $85. The license and all the accompanying documents are issued by the local county (where the tattoo artist lives). If you’re a Florida guest, you will have to get a Guest Tattoo registration, which is $35. The Guest registration is valid for up to 14 consecutive days in Florida.

In Texas, you will have to get a separate license for tattooing and body piercing, for example. To get your texas tattoo license, visit the State Health Services website for a detailed explanation. We can inform you that the license application is standard, but you will have to send out two separate application forms for tattooing and body piercing, and unfortunately pay a second fee.

The license(s) is good for two years, after which you’ll be required to send out a License Renewal application. The application fee in Texas is around $900, and the renewal fee is the same as the initial payment. If you’re applying for a special event license, you will have to pay around $450 (and the license is good for 7 consecutive days).

The tattoo license procedure for California requires a lot of different licenses and permits. For example, you need to complete the Blood-Borne Pathogen Training Course, as well as submit an application to Environmental Health. But, prior to all this, you need to contact your local city for zoning requirements and obtain a business license, any fictitious business license, seller’s permits, insurance, etc.

Then, prior to opening your own tattoo studio, you’ll need to submit a completed Health Permit Application. Now, the license application fee varies among counties; for example, the fee for Los Angeles county is around $47, while the same fee in Santa Clara County is $175.

Common Tattoo License Questions

How Long Does It Take To Get a Tattoo License?

Generally speaking, the time in which you can get a tattoo license varies. But, overall, you must have at least one to five years of apprenticeship. Upon the completion of an apprenticeship, you can apply for a tattoo license. The apprenticeship isn’t typically paid, but it provides the necessary practice and insight into the world of tattooing. During the apprenticeship period, you will learn about tattooing, the equipment, techniques, hygiene and sanitation practices, prevention of infection and diseases, and so much more.

How Much Does It Cost To Get a Tattoo License?

Now, the overall costs of getting a tattoo license also vary from one state to the other. There is also the notion of having to pay for your own apprenticeship program, which can go anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for an approximate two-year apprenticeship. During the apprenticeship, you work for free, as we mentioned, and you also need to buy your own tools.

Now, when it comes to the license fee cost, you can expect to pay anywhere between $25 (in Alabama), and $420 (in Minnesota), according to the official fee cost released by the states’ official websites. Rumor has it that you will have to pay around $900 for the license fee in Texas, which is the most expensive tattoo license fee estimation in the country.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a Tattoo License?

Generally speaking, the universal age at which you can start your tattoo apprenticeship and submit a tattoo license is the age of 18. Teenagers younger than the age of 18 are not legally allowed to practice tattooing or piercing, individually or as a part of a business. However, some laws may have changed, so we do urge you to check the age requirements for your own state, local city, or county.

Final Thoughts

Getting a tattoo license is a tedious process. It can take a lot of time, and cost even more money. But, if being a tattoo artist is your dream career, then surely go for it. Consider your tattoo apprenticeship as a form of college education, and then your tattoo license as a formal degree. With these two, you will be unstoppable and you’ll be truly able to enjoy creating your art and making people happy. But, until then, do your research, make the most from your apprenticeship, and save up, because you’ll definitely need an extra buck during the process.

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