What License Is Needed as a Tattoo Artist in Texas?
Texas tattoo laws require studio owners to take out a state license. If you're an individual tattoo artist employed by a studio, you don't need to be licensed, but you do have to register with the state. The laws are detailed in Chapter 146 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
To open a tattoo studio, you have to apply to the state for a tattoo license specific to that location. If you offer body piercing as well, you need a second, separate application. To work in someone else's studio, you have to register as a tattoo artist with the state after taking training in infection control and aseptic tattoo procedures.
Texas tattoo laws require any business that produces "an indelible mark or figure on the human body by scarring or inserting pigments under the skin using needles, scalpels or other related equipment" to get a state license. This includes traditional tattoo studios and those that use scarification or permanent cosmetics to get the same result.
If your studio offers body piercing as well, you'll need a separate license for that. Ear piercing, being so common, is exempted from body-piercing regulations.
The state Drug and Medical Devices Group will inspect your studio to make sure it meets state standards. It must be well-maintained and clean, along with your other obligations:
- You and your employees take precautions against infection including washing hands with a germicidal soap, using single-use gloves, disposing of waste and either using disposable instruments or sterilizing your equipment.
- You have records showing routine sterilization practices.
- You don't tattoo or pierce minors without parental consent or work on anyone who's drunk or high.
- You keep records for each person receiving tattoos or piercings.
- You report infections or adverse reactions to State Health Services.
Tattoo licenses in Texas are location specific. If you move your studio into the offices next door, or across the street, you'll have to reapply. If you use a mobile studio to visit events, you'll need a temporary event license at each new location.
You can find your Texas tattoo license application on the State Health Services website. The application fee at the time of writing is $927 or $464 for a special event. An event license is good for a maximum of seven days.
Most of the license application is standard: your name or that of your company, address, hours of operation and website address. You must also submit a written document from your local government that confirms the zoning code allows a studio at your location. If you offer body piercing as well as tattooing, you have to submit a separate application and pay a second fee.
Your license is good for two years and is renewable. The renewal fee is the same as the initial payment.
Under Texas tattoo laws, the state can reject your tattoo license application on several grounds:
- Sometime in the two years before you filed the application, you were convicted of violating the Texas tattoo laws.
- You were convicted and sentenced for actions relative to tattooing or body piercing and the sentence ended less than three years ago.
- You lied or incorrectly answered a question on your application.
- You haven't paid your state fees or penalties.
- You're a legal minor.
- The state doesn't consider your building adequate.
- You, your staff or your patrons were involved in a shooting or other violent incident or a drug offense taking place at your studio. This can delay the approval of your application for up to a year.
All tattoo artists or body piercers have to register with the state. Along with the registration application, they have to submit proof of a state-approved training course that includes at least six hours related to bloodborne pathogens, infection control and aseptic tattoo and piercing techniques.