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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.

I lost my license/I forgot my license number. How do I get that information?

You can find your license and license number online using the License Lookup tool.

How can I update my insurance online?

See step-by-step instructions of how to update your insurance online.

How do I get or renew my license?

What forms of payment do you accept?

  • Online: We accept online payments using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express debit or credit card.
  • By mailed: Mailed payments must be made with a check or money order, payable to the Department of Licensing.
  • By phone: We can't accept payments over the phone.

How do I get an additional copy of my license?


By mail

  • To get a printed license when applying by mail, you must send the license print fee with your application.
  • To request a printed copy of your license, send us the following information:
    • Name
    • Mailing address
    • Email address
    • Phone number
    • License type
    • License number
    • Check or money order for the license print fee, payable to Department of Licensing
    • Mail to:

      Tattoo, Body Art, Body Piercing Program
      Department of Licensing
      PO Box 35001
      Seattle, WA 98124-3401

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