How to Get a Tattoo License – Illinois

If you're thinking of becoming a tattoo artist in Illinois, you'll need to know how to get a tattoo license.

In this article, we'll outline the steps you need to take to get licensed and start your career as a tattoo artist in Illinois. Keep reading for more information!

How to Become a Tattoo Artist in Illinois

You do not have to have a license to be a tattoo artist in Illinois. However, it is unlawful to tattoo outside of a registered shop, as designated by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Shops must have a current Certificate of Registration.

Tattoo and Body Piercing Establishment Registration Act

The Tattoo and Body Piercing Establishment Registration Act is relatively new, adopted by the Illinois General Assembly only in 2007 for aspiring artists and shop owners in the permanent makeup industry.

A shop must be licensed before practitioners can complete tattoo and body art procedures in Illinois, including body piercing. This is regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health under the Illinois Department of Public Health Body Art Code (which became active in 2008).

Any tattoo shop that performs body art services, including tattooing, branding, body piercing, or scarification must be registered with the department. An inspection is required, with renewal inspections also conducted on a regular basis by the public health department.

Let's take a closer look at what is required of tattoo shops and tattoo artists, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

What is Required to Perform Body Art Services in Illinois?

Below, we'll take a look at what you need to do to start providing tattooing, piercing, and other body art services in Illinois. So whether you're an experienced artist looking to relocate, or you're just starting out and wondering what's required, keep reading!

Tattoo Shops Register Their Tattoo Artists

Illinois is unique in that the tattoo artist does not hold the permit with the department of health, but the location instead holds the individual license.

Each tattoo artist must provide proof of education along with a bloodborne pathogen training course. Illinois does not require licensing of individual tattoo artists.

The shop owners are responsible for ensuring that each tattoo artist meets the regulations and requirements as detailed by the Illinois Compiled Statutes, but there is no individual artist license required.

How to Register Artists in a Shop

It is up to the tattoo shop operator to apply for a body art permit for each of its practitioners.

The application timeline is roughly four to six weeks. Check local business and zoning requirements and rules before you apply - this may void your state registration if you don't comply with local requirements.

You can complete your registration online with the department of health and human services or you can print off a copy and mail it in instead.

Fees are set at a base rate of $500 per application (a flat $250 for a temporary tattooing facility).

You will need to provide information such as your address (both your physical and mailing address), a list of procedures to be carried out at your facility, the age of your facility, and a list of any equipment used for tattooing and body piercing (such as sterilizers, needles, etc).

You will also need to provide a list of operational procedures, aftercare instructions, an establishment floor plan, and a parental consent form.

Temporary Business Application

If you are interested in a temporary license, such as for a mobile unit or for a temporary event, you can apply online by paying a fee of $500 for a mobile unit and $250 for a temporary permit. A temporary permit is valid only for 14 consecutive days.

Bloodborne Pathogen Courses

As a tattoo artist, it is important to maintain a clean and sanitary environment for both you and your clients. OSHA approved bloodborne pathogens courses can teach you how to properly clean and disinfect your equipment, as well as how to handle and dispose of used needles.

In addition, these courses can also provide valuable information on how to protect yourself from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. By taking an OSHA approved bloodborne pathogens course, tattoo artists can ensure that they are taking all the necessary precautions according to federal and state regulations to prevent the spread of disease.

According to the Piercing Establishment Registration Act, Illinois requires tattoo artists working in tattoo shops to complete an OSHA-approved Blood-borne pathogens course. You can find approved training courses here, here, and here

Additional County Regulations for Tattoo Artists

If your county health department has additional regulations (Sangamon County is an example), you can find them here.

As of 2019, all tattoo shops must post a Notice regarding the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act. All shop owners should note that the Illinois Health Department is also required to monitor this during visits to the establishments.

Also, Illinois requires each tattoo shop to have at least two sinks for every business. Illinois tattoo rules do not apply to physicians' offices if they are exempt. The department of health is liable to conduct regular inspections. If you fail to renew your permit and pay the fee each time it is due for registration, you could have your license revoked.

Only a tattoo shop operator can register for a certified copy of a tattoo artist (body art) registration license.

Where to Find More Information About Body Art Procedures and Services

You can get more information about fees, the law, and the application process (including where to find required forms and how to renew a license) by visiting the department of health website. You can also email

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?

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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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