Frequently asked questions: Tattoos, body piercing, and body art

Why are body piercing, tattooing, and body art being regulated?

The legislature found these practices involve invasive procedures that use needles, sharps, instruments, and jewelry which may be dangerous when improperly sterilized. Improper sterilization presents a risk of infecting clients with blood-borne pathogens (HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, etc.). The legislature determined it was in the best interest of the public health, safety, and welfare to establish requirements for the commercial practice of these activities, and passed RCW 18.300: Body art, body piercing, and tattooing.

What practices need to be licensed?

Tattoo artists, body art artists, body piercers, and permanent cosmetics artist must have a license. Plus, any location where these services are provided must have a shop, mobile unit, or event license.

Will the Department of Licensing inspect all shops?

The law requires all shops to have an inspection. We’ll inspect all shops on a 2-year rotation. In addition, we’ll respond to all written complaints with an investigation or more frequent inspections.

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