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Women giving tattoo

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. (online high school diplomas are not acceptable)
  • Must complete Bloodborne Pathogen and Standard First Aid Training (CPR/AED is not acceptable)
  • Must complete Tattoo Artist Application
  • Must submit fee of $75 along with application
*You must also practice in a facility that has a tattoo establisment permit or have your own tattoo establishment permit.

Microneedling:  Unless ink is being injected into the skin, microneedling does not fall under the Tattoo Program.  Please contact Professional Licensure, Board of Cosmetology at (515) 281-0254 or plpublic@idph.iowa.gov.

What is required to open a permanent tattoo establishment?

  • Must complete Permanent Establishment Application
  • Must submit $100 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