How to Get a Tattoo License – Delaware

You do not need an individual tattoo license in Delaware. You will be registered with the individual shop where you work. The shop will be held to certain health standards (which means you will be too.) 

In this article, we’ll break down:

  • What documents you’ll need to provide to your tattoo shop
  • Which tattoo education courses you’ll be expected to complete
  • Where to learn more about your county regulations
Delaware body art by tattoo artist

Tattoo Artist Expectations

To legally work in a tattoo shop, you will need to meet the following requirements:


Age Requirements

You must be 18 years old.


Photo Identification

You will need to provide an ID photo to your body art establishment (tattoo shop).


Hepatitis B Vaccination

You must have a Hepatitis B vaccination series or sign a declination form.


Education for Tattooing or Body Piercing

You don't necessarily have to complete a certain set of prescribed coursework. However, it is generally expected that you will complete a set of coursework to teach you the craft of tattoo work and body art as well as how to do so in a safe and sanitary manner.

You will usually take courses in tattooing or complete an apprenticeship. 

You can take these classes in schools of cosmetology as a specialized course of study. It will usually take around a few weeks to months to do this.

In your courses, you'll learn everything you need to know to work in the tattoo community, such as the anatomy and physiology of skin, how to use specialized needles for tattooing or piercing, and various safety procedures (such as how to meet regulations for the disposal of needles and chemicals).

Tattoo artists are at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens. To help protect themselves and their clients, tattoo artists must receive training in Universal Precautions. Universal Precautions is a set of guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency and other health and safety and environmental organizations that helps reduce the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

The training covers a variety of topics, including how to properly disinfect equipment, how to handle sharps, and how to identify and report potential exposure. By receiving this training, tattoo artists can help ensure their own safety as well as the safety of their clients.

Note: The term “Universal Precautions” means behaving as if all human blood and body fluids contain bloodborne pathogens, and taking the precautions necessary to prevent the spread of disease. To do this, we highly recommend getting a Blood-borne Pathogen Training Certificate. (Your individual tattoo shop may require you to have this before being hired.)


Other Requirements As Needed

For a full list of what information your tattoo shop will need from you, as well as what health regulations the shop (and you) will have to comply with, see “5.0 Operational Requirements.” 

If your county has additional regulations, you can find them here.

Tattoo and Body Art Establishments in Delaware

You do not need an individual tattoo license in Delaware. You will be registered with the individual shop where you work. The shop will be held to certain health standards (which means you will be too.) 

You will need to complete a training program at a permanent makeup program or work with an experienced permanent makeup artist. You must only perform these procedures in licensed tattoo shops that have a valid permit issued by the department of public health specifically for tattoo or body piercing work.

There are various sanitation and health requirements you must meet, too. For example, the shop must have both hot and cold running water, a method of sanitizing tattoo equipment and other instruments, and require all tattoo artists to wear disposable gloves while performing any procedure.

Things You Should Know:

It is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 without prior written consent from an adult parent or legal guardian. Any person receiving tattoos on the skin or any piercing service that is under the age of 18 needs to have written evidence of parental consent prior to being tattooed.

It is illegal to tattoo another person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

How to Operate a Tattoo Shop in Delaware

Delaware does not regulate each individual tattoo artist but instead regulates each body piercing establishment.

To apply for a tattoo or body piercing license with the health department, you will need to complete an Application For Permit to Operate a Body Art Establishment. (If you need to renew your license, you will indicate that on this form.)

In this form, you will provide contact information for the shop. You can apply for a fixed location or a mobile unit, the latter of which will make you eligible for a temporary permit of a period of 14 days.

Exemption for Persons in Medicine

If you are a licensed healthcare practitioner with a license to practice medicine, you may not have to meet the same requirements since you are doing so in connection with patient treatment. 

You may be exempt from many of the regulations Delaware has set forth for tattoo work and conduct, but you will need to apply for a variance.

Health Department Requirements

There are some requirements you must meet to satisfy the health department. An inspection will be performed when you apply for your permit to operate as well as on a regular (usually annual) basis.

For example, your tattoo establishment must have:

  • Walls, floors, and procedure surfaces that are smooth and washable
  • Body art establishments that are separated by solid partitions so clients are separated from where body art is being performed
  • At least 45 square feet of procedure area floor space for each person who is doing piercing or tattoos
  • A hand sink with hot and cold running water

The permit holder (you) of the body art establishment needs to be able to demonstrate knowledge of:

  • Skin diseases, disorders, and conditions
  • Universal precautions (revisit the section above if you're unclear on what is covered in the nature of this training)
  • Infectious disease control, such as equipment operation, sterilization of instruments and needles, blood borne pathogens training for employees, waste disposal, hand washing techniques, disinfection, etc)
  • Facility safety and sanitation

As the facility owner and permit holder, you are only permitted to knowingly hire a person with the proper training to work as a tattoo artist in your establishment. This training includes best practices in safe and sanitary procedures, waste disposal, blood borne pathogens, and correct tattoo shop operation.

Each customer must be provided with a clear list of aftercare instructions as well.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

examples of students own tattoo

Learning the steps you need to take to get licensed is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
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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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