The state of Illinois requires all tattoo artists and body piercers to receive a license from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Illinois regulations regarding tattoo shops are contained in Chapter 410, Section 54 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS), entitled the Tattoo and Body Piercing Establishment Registration Act. As of January 1, 2009, tattoo artists do not need to pass any state tests to prove their competency but have to meet state health safety requirements.


The Illinois General Assembly sets regulations on tattoo shops due to the possibility of the spread of Hepatitis or HIV due to the use of non-sterile needles. To receive and maintain a license, a tattoo shop owner must ensure that he provides a clean and sanitary environment during procedures by using new needles or sterilizing needles after each tattoo. He must also provide 40 square feet of space for tattoo workstations and hand washing facilities.


As of April 2011, the state of Illinois requires tattoo artists to demonstrate proficiency in their job but does not set specific guidelines on education. The Illinois Department of Public Health requires all body artists to have knowledge of human anatomy, infectious disease control and skin diseases and disorders. A tattoo artist can meet these requirements by attending an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sponsored bloodborne pathogen training class.


Tattoo shop owners must submit a non-refundable application fee of $500 to the Illinois Department of Public Health with their application as of April 2011. Individual tattoo artists working for an employer do not require licensing. The application must list the applicant’s telephone number, age, name, address, the list of equipment used for tattooing. Applicants can pay a fee of $250 to receive temporary licensing for up to 14 days.


Under the authority of 410 ILCS 54/30, the Illinois Department of Public Health inspects a tattoo artist’s establishment before approving a license. In addition, the department conducts inspections of tattoo parlors on a regular basis to ensure that the shops meets all hygiene and safety standards. A local county or city also may inspect the facility and charge the shop owner a fee for the inspection. For example, Sangamon County, Illinois charges a $100 inspection fee for tattoo parlors as of April 2011.


Illinois tattoo shop owners have to renew their license with the Illinois Department of Health on an annual basis to legally conduct their business. If a tattoo artist provides a tattoo to an individual under the age of 18, the department can revoke her license. The state may also revoke a tattoo shop license if the owner commits a public nuisance or does not maintain a sanitary environment.