Almost 30 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, and getting inked is unlikely to go out of style any time soon. If you have an artistic flair, an appreciation of body art and a steady hand, tattooing could be your perfect job. A tattoo artist doesn’t need a large amount of equipment, so you may be tempted to work from home instead of renting separate business premises. Before you do, make sure you’re in compliance with state law.
Tattoo Licensing and Regulation
While there is no federal law in the United States regulating the practice of tattooing, nearly every state has its own statutory tattooing laws or regulations. However, these vary widely. Some states require individual tattoo artists to obtain a permit from their department of public health. In others, such as Maryland, a license is not required, but tattoo artists must comply with all relevant health code regulations.
In some states, local health boards may establish their own licensing and regulatory schemes in lieu of the state department’s. For example, Nevada state law does not regulate tattoos, but regional health districts may govern the practice. In many states, tattooists have to satisfy certain training requirements and be registered. In a few states, such as Arizona, there are no health regulations at all for tattoo shops.
Many states (including Florida and Louisiana) prohibit minors from getting tattoos and require parental consent or parents to be present during the procedure. When it comes to laws that regulate tattooing from home, the picture is less clear.
Tattooing From Home Laws
While in-home tattoo artists probably exist all over the country, that doesn't necessarily mean they are legal. Although many of the regulations may not directly address in-home tattoo artists, it's probably unlikely that your home environment would pass health and safety tests. Tattooing involves dealing with blood and bodily fluids and breaking the skin, and the risk of spreading blood-borne illnesses such as hepatitis, MRSA and HIV are higher if the environment is not sterile.
To accurately answer the question, "Do you need a license to tattoo from home?" you need to contact your state's department of public health. It will be able to direct you to relevant tattooing laws. Again, some states are stricter than others. In Connecticut, for example, you cannot legally work as a tattooist unless you have completed 2,000 hours of practical training and experience under the personal supervision and instruction of a tattoo technician.
Failure to Comply
If you fail to comply with the laws for tattooists in your state, you may face criminal and civil fines. In some states, violations of tattoo laws are a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or prison sentence. In others, tattoo law violations are a felony, in most cases punishable by substantial fines and prison sentences in excess of one year. Failure to comply with your state's licensing and safety regulations may lead to a revocation of your license.
Remember, state laws can change frequently, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the laws regarding working as a tattoo artist, wherever you live.
Each state, and even individual public health departments, maintain their own requirements for tattoo artists. While working from home may not be explicitly prohibited by law, doing so is unlikely to meet health and safety standards.
- Texas Health and Safety Code: Chapter 146 Tattoo and Certain Body Piercing Studios
- The Harris Poll: The Tattoo Takeover: Three in Ten Americans Have Tattoos, and Most Don’t Stop at Just One
- Southern Nevada Health District: Body Art
- Maryland Department of Public Health: Tattooing and Body Piercing
- Connecticut State Department of Public Health: Tattoo Licensing
- Arizona State Legislature: 13-3721: Tattoos
- Online Sunshine: The 2017 Florida Statutes: 381.00787
- JUSTIA: Louisiana RS 14:93.2
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.