To operate a tattoo business in Pennsylvania, you need to get a license after an approval from the Board of Health. A health officer from the board must certify that your establishment meets all the requirements such as health standards. Once you have met all the requirements, you pay an application fee to the board before it issues you a license. Failure to comply with the requirements can also lead to your license being taken away.

Tattoo Shop Requirements

Tattoo shops must have all the required facilities, such as adequate ventilation and lighting, hand-washing facilities, and urinals and toilets adequate in number for both artists and customers. Other requirements include cabinets for storage of tattooing instruments; smooth, impervious and washable floors; and ceiling and walls painted with light colors. You must have hand brushes, fingernail files and enough tables to work with. The tables should be constructed of metal or any material that is smooth, light-colored, nonabsorbent and noncorrosive. The tables should also be 10 feet away from waiting customers or be separated by a barrier or panel constructed of glass or solid plastic and should be 6 feet high. The establishment or shop should be more than 100 square feet.

Health and Sanitary Requirements

Minimum health standards for tattooing shops prevent tattoo supplies, equipment and work surfaces from being contaminated by pathogenic organisms. The health department must therefore ensure that your tattoo shop is clean and well-maintained before giving you a license. Personnel will inspect your shop monthly to determine whether you are maintaining the sanitation, sterilization and safety standards. You are also supposed to be examined by a physician and get a statement confirming that you don’t have any infectious or contagious disease like Hepatitis B.


You are required to have training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and blood borne pathogens. Some Pennsylvania cities such as Philadelphia also require you to have experience by being an apprentice under a professional for a specified period. This is to help you run your shop better by learning the important procedures, such as running the sterilizer, maintaining equipment and understanding what to do during emergencies.

Tattooing Minors

Pennsylvania laws prohibit providing tattooing services to those under 18 years old unless they have permission from their parents or guardian. If you are guilty of breaking this law, you will either be jailed for a maximum of three months, pay a maximum fine of $100 or both.