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How to Get a Tattoo License

Learn how to get a tattoo license from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.


Getting a tattoo license as a tattooer you have to go and check out the local board of health, and check with your local commerce, and find out if you are able to get a permit in that area. A lot of the sanctioning bodies are usually county to county and/or state. South Carolina just became legal. And I was here in New York City when it first became legal here. So you have to check with all the governing bodies and find out exactly what you have to do. You have to design your shop around the laws that they've instituted.

With building a shop you have to make sure, you know, they have ordinances where you have to have a special floor in the tattooing area, you have to have sectioned rooms, maybe a separate room for your autoclave and cleaning supplies, so you basically have to build your shop accordingly with the local laws. Like I said, they're all different throughout the whole United States, and some states don't allow tattooing.

Make sure that you're in the right zone. Zoning is a big issue. I've known people to build a whole shop and to no avail. Basically the city came in and said, "We can't issue you a permit or a tattoo license because you're in the wrong zone. "

Most health departments do suggest, even at conventions I do, you have to be up to date with your bloodborne pathogens certificate and also CPR, first aid. So we have to go through pretty much everything that governmental employees do. We have to jump through the hoops just like everybody else. Actually, we're scrutinized more than most businesses. A dentist that does open mouth surgeries is less scrutinized than we are. We get hit just because they don't want us there.

So, make sure you do your homework. Investigate what all the laws are and try to abide by them so you can make yourself a successful shop.

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