How to Get a Tattoo License – Alabama

There are a few things to consider before getting a tattoo license in Alabama. In this guide, we will outline the steps you need to take to get your license.

Body Art Operator Permit Alabama

To be a tattoo artist in Alabama, individuals must have a “Body Art Operator Permit” issued by the state of Alabama. Body Art Operator Permits cost $50.00 in most counties.

You must renew your permit every two years. Renewal costs $25.00 in most counties that issue licenses. Body art facility licenses are renewed annually.

In order to work as a tattoo artist, you must do so in facilities (tattoo studios) that are licensed to practice permanent makeup/body art/body piercing in the state of Alabama, according to the Department of Public Health.

You can work at a "temporary body art facility," but this can be for no more than 14 days consecutively coinciding with a single celebration or event.

The Body Art Procedures Application

To apply for a Body Art Operator Permit, you must do the following:

1

Complete a Body Art Procedure Application

Print and fill out a permit application.

You will need confirmation from a licensed body art facility (licensed tattoo shop) that you work in their space. (You will need to list the shop name where it says “Primary Facility Name” on the application.)

2

Complete a Bloodborne Pathogen Course Approved by the Department of Public Health

Provide proof of attendance in a bloodborne pathogen course. Attach a copy of your certificate to your application. 

You must have taken the course within the last 36 months.

The course has to be approved by the Health Department. 

You can find a list of Health Department-approved BBP courses on the Alabama Department of Public Health website.

3

Get Vaccinated

Provide one of these three and attach a copy to your application.

Option 1 | A copy of your Hepatitis B vaccination record

You can get a Hepatitis A and B Combination or Hepatitis B vaccine for $150 at Walgreens, CVS, or your preferred healthcare provider. The cost of vaccination may be covered by your health insurance. 

Option 2 | Your declination form

This declination form is a paper providing legal proof explaining that you have refused to get the vaccine). A declination form is essentially a waiver in place of the vaccination in Alabama.

Option 3 | Proof of immunity

You can provide written consent to the health department that shows you have already had hepatitis, too, in lieu of this requirement.

Provide a Copy of a Photo ID

Have a photo ID (driver’s license or passport). Attach a copy to your application.

You will need to be prepared to pay the $50.00 fee when you turn in your application.

Turn in Your Application

Take your completed application to your county’s local department of health office. They will review your application right then. If approved, your license will be printed immediately and given to you that day at the department of health.

Additional Alabama Department of Health Regulations

Cosmetic tattooing

If you are hoping to become a tattoo artist and obtain your body art license in Alabama, there are a few other standards you will need to meet:

County Tattoo License Requirements

Some Alabama counties have additional requirements for body art and body piercing.

If your county has additional regulations, you can find them on the public health department website.

Sanitation Requirements for Public Health

Alabama, like many other states, has various sanitation requirements that are necessary to practice tattooing. For example, each tattoo artist must wear clean, intact, single-use gloves when performing any body art procedures. A single use pair of gloves cannot be used more than once and they must be changed if they become contaminated.

All body art practitioners must maintain "a degree of personal cleanliness" and may not eat, drink, or use tobacco in the work area while body art or body piercing is taking place. Handwashing is also required.

Documentation by Tattoo Artists

All tattoo parlors must keep various forms of documentation on file.

For example, the information of each tattoo artist, including their full name, exact duties, date of birth, gender, social security number, home address, and photo ID must be kept on file.

Each tattoo parlor must also keep a list of all body art procedures that every tattoo artist can carry out, along with a full inventory of all materials used for piercing and tattooing.

There needs to be a biohazard waste and sharps disposal area in accordance with all applicable state, local, and federal laws.

Any person, including all tattoo artists and technicians, should have either completed or formally declined a hepatitis B vaccination. Tattoo facilities should provide proof of this hepatitis B vaccination record for every tattoo artist or body piercer.

How to Open a Body Art Facility in Alabama

Tattoo shops MUST have this health disclosure document displayed. However, as an individual artist, it is always good to have a copy to show to clients:

Things You Should Know:

You CAN tattoo minors, as long as you have their guardian’s written parental consent. The guardian must consent in person at the time of the tattoo and sign the written consent agreement. You will also need a copy of their photo ID. Keep those two documents (their written consent and their ID copy) together in your permanent records.

You CANNOT tattoo anyone who is intoxicated/impaired in the state of Alabama.

You can only tattoo in a licensed facility. While there are a few exceptions for temporary setups (see pages 20-21 here), all tattoos have to be done in a body art facility (tattoo shop) with a current, valid tattoo license from the department of health.

Written Notice of Regulations and Procedure

If you own a tattoo parlor license in Alabama, you need to post the following list of regulations at the door in order to remain permitted. In addition, you are subject to an inspection from the health department at any time.

The Disclosure Statement shall include, at a minimum, the following wording in bold type:

"There may be risks associated with the procedures of commercial body art which includes permanent tattoos, body piercing and permanent cosmetic application, that may adversely affect the healing process, or may be a concern due to potential disease transmission, if you have, or have had, any of the following conditions:

  • History of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C;
  • HIV/AIDS;
  • Diabetes;
  • History of hemophilia or any other blood disorder/disease;
  • History of skin diseases or skin lesions;
  • History of sensitivities to soaps, disinfectants, etc.;
  • History of allergies or adverse reactions to pigments, dyes, latex, etc.;
  • Tuberculosis;
  • Immune disorders;
  • History of epilepsy, seizures, fainting, or narcolepsy;
  • Scarring (keloids);
  • History of heart murmur or any heart disease/condition;
  • History of taking medications such as anticoagulants that thin the blood and/or interferes with blood clotting;
  • Pregnancy or breast feeding/nursing.”
  • In the event a body piercing procedure is to be performed which involves the oral area (“oral piercing”), the client should be given oral piercing information such as
    shown in Appendix C."

List of Site Care Information

Every person who receives a tattoo at your facility must also receive a written information sheet from the tattoo artist detailing instructions for general site care.

Learning More About Tattoo Artist License

If you would like to learn more about the tattoo licensing process in Alabama, please visit the Alabama Department of Public Health website. There, you can find an application, as well as additional information on health and safety requirements.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

examples of students own tattoo

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AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain. When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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