Indiana state law defines a tattoo as an indelible mark made with needles of other instruments, or a mark made by scarring, on or under the skin. Indiana’s state laws do not require certification, registration or licensing of tattoo artists; however, the laws provide prohibitions and requirements for operating a tattooing business, criminal penalties for violations of the law, investigation of complaints and rules for health and safety.

Senate Bill 13

Indiana passed Senate Bill 13 in 1997 to regulate tattooing businesses. The legislation prohibits tattoo artists from providing tattoos to people under 18 years of age without the presence and written consent of a parent or legal guardian. The bill requires the Indiana State Department of Health, or ISDH, to implement rules for the sanitary operation of tattoo parlors and provides procedures for receiving and investigating complaints and violations that could affect the health of patrons. Violations result in the issuance of a compliance order to the offending business or person.

Sanitary Operations Rules

The ISDH sanitary operation rules, which were implemented in 1998, do not require tattoo artists to register with the state health department and do not require the state health department to inspect tattooing facilities. ISDH recommends that tattoo artists and businesses contact local health departments for information about local requirements concerning registration and inspection.

Display of Patron Rights

The ISDH sanitary operation rule requires tattoo parlor operations to display patron rights and universal precaution information provided by ISDH. The patron rights document provided by ISDH includes required practices, such as washing hands and tools, use of health department-approved cleaning agents after tattooing work and prohibitions against tattooing in living areas. The patron rights document also includes prohibitions against animals in the tattooing area and against eating, drinking and the application of make-up in the work area.

OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, requires businesses with employees who are at risk of contact with blood or other infectious materials to abide by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. Indiana’s health department rules require that tattoo parlors with employees follow the OSHA standard and recommends that individuals who are not employees become familiar with the standard. The standard requires a written control plan for exposure, hepatitis B vaccine, medical evaluation after exposure, annual training and recordkeeping of OSHA standard-related events.

Tips and Warnings

The ISDH website provides a page with links to the county health departments. State and local health departments provide the patron rights information upon request. A copy of the patron rights display document is available on the ISDH website. Indiana law requires that complaints regarding underage tattooing be made to local law enforcement agencies. Other complaints must be made to the local health department or to the ISDH Tattoo Coordinator.