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Iowa Tattoo Program Proclamation of Disaster Emergency Update

The most recent Proclamation of Disaster Emergency that Governor Reynolds issued on June 25, 2021 did not include Chapter 135 in the section pertaining to license renewals and expiration dates.  This means that there is now an official end date for the 2020 renewal period.  Tattoo establishments and artist permits with a 2020 expiration date can renew without late fee penalty until June 30, 2021.  On July 1, 2021 all permits with a December 31, 2020 expiration date will officially expire and late fees will begin to accumulate for each month the permit holder is operating without a current permit.  Tattoo establishments or artists with permits that expired in 2020 will no longer be able to work until they have renewed for the 2021 permit year.

What does the Tattoo Program do?

  • Issues and manages artist permits
  • Issues and manages all establishment permits including:
    • Permanent establishments
    • Mobile establishments
      Effective 9/7/2016 no new mobile tattoo units will be permitted
    • Temporary establishments
  • Ensures that all tattooing performed in the State of Iowa is in accordance with Iowa Code section 135.37 and 641 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 22

For a current list of licensed artists and establishments, see the Resources page.

Tattoo applications and renewals are now online

To apply for or renew a permit go to:

Frequently Asked Questions

I would like to practice tattooing, cosmetic tattooing or microblading, what do I need to do?

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must have a high school diploma or G.E.D. (On-line high school diplomas are not acceptable)
  • Must complete Bloodborne Pathogen and Standard First Aid Training
  • Must complete Tattoo Artist Application
  • Must submit fee of $75.00 along with application

What is required to open a permanent tattoo establishment?

  • Must complete Permanent Establishment Application
  • Must submit $100.00 fee along with the application and floor plan
  • Must be located in a commercially-zoned building
  • Must pass inspection conducted by the Designated Inspection Agency
  • Must meet all requirements outlined in 641 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 22 (Refer to the Iowa Code link at the top of this page)

I would like to host a tattoo convention or temporary event, what do I need to do?

  • Must complete a Temporary Establishment Application
  • Submit fee based on the number of participating artists
  • Submit a copy of the floor plan
  • Refer to the Guidelines for Tattoo Establishments

Is body piercing regulated by state law?

  • No. Body piercing is not regulated by state law. However, some county or city health departments may have body piercing regulations. Be sure to check with your county or city health department.

Can a minor get a tattoo if they have parental consent?

  • No.  Individuals under the age of 18 are prohibited from getting a tattoo, regardless of parental consent.

How do I file a complaint?

  • The department does not accept anonymous complaints. To file a formal complaint, click here .

How long will it take for my application to be processed? 

  • The department processes applications in the order they are received
  • Typical processing time for new artist permits are 1-2 weeks
  • Typical processing time for establishment permits are 3-4 weeks
  • We will not process incomplete applications 
  • Applications submitted during the renewal cycle (October-December) may be delayed 

For more information about the Tattoo Program, contact: Chelsea Stevens at (515) 724-3017
Tattoo Program | Iowa Department of Public Health | 321 E. 12th Street | Des Moines, Iowa 50319