Tattoo License VA Requirements

What Requirements Does the Virginia Health Regulatory Board Have for Tattoo Artists?

Virginia body art by tattoo artist

You must hold a Tattooer License to perform tattoos in the state of Virginia. The current cost of getting a license is $95. Starting September 1, 2022, the fee will increase to $105.

Tattooer licenses expire two years from the last day of the month in which they were issued. 

(For example, if you receive your license on August 3, 2021, it will expire on August 31, 2023.) The current cost of renewing a license is $95. Starting September 1, 2022, the fee will increase to $105.

Virginia Tattoo License Requirements

There are essentially two types of licenses for tattoo art in the state of Virginia. There are licenses for the tattoo artist (the person performing the actual tattoo art or body piercing) and also licenses for tattoo establishments (the tattoo parlor).

Training and Skill Requirements to Work in a Tattoo Parlor

Your first step in getting a tattoo license is to contact the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology.

You will usually need to complete an approved tattoo training program in a Virginia-licensed school of tattooing or an approved apprenticeship.

Tattoo School

Approved tattoo schools courses will cover all aspects of doing business as a tattoo artist, such as:

  • Disease control and proper sterilization to prevent bloodborne pathogens (like hepatitis A and hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency viruses, among other infections)
  • Preventing and addressing allergic reactions
  • Antiseptic procedures
  • Best permanent coloration and body piercers practices and techniques
  • First aid and emergency management

Apprenticeship for Tattoo Artists in VA

Apprenticeship requirements may be found here.

  • 350 hours should be spent covering microbiology, immunization, safety, bloodborne pathogen standards, professional standards, anatomy, and Virginia tattooing laws and regulations.
  • 150 hours should be spent covering sanitation and disinfection.
  • 1000 hours should be spent doing practical applications of all curriculum topics above and a total of 100 tattooing performances.

Complete this form when your apprenticeship is finished.

Exam for Tattoo License Virginia

After you’ve gone through your tattoo course or apprenticeship, you must take and pass the VA Tattooer Theory Examination through Professional Credential Services

Apply for an exam and pay the $86 test fee. You will need to upload a 2” x 2” passport photo with your application. You can get a passport photo at CVS and apply online.

Within 5 calendar days of submitting your application form, you will be notified via email if you are eligible to take the exam. If you are, then they will allow you to sign up for a test time and location.

Exams for body piercing and tattooing may be taken an unlimited amount of times in a 1 year period.

Receiving Your Tattoo License in VA and Working as a Tattoo Artist

Once you have passed this exam, you will be granted your tattooer license.

If you are working as a tattoo artist in Virginia, you must follow the Center for Disease Control's Universal Blood and Body Precautions. You need to provide all customers with disclaimers about the risk of infection, allergies, and the use of appropriate anesthesia during tattooing. You must also provide information about blood borne pathogens and applicable body fluid precautions.

Because tattoos are works of art, they are subject to copyright laws in Virginia. If you are unsure whether you are another artist have violated copyright laws, you should contact an attorney.

Additional Tattoo License Virginia Information

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

Transferring a Tattoo License from Another State

If you hold a license in a state other than Virginia, contact the Board at (804) 367-8509.

Tattoo Parlors and Tattoo Business Requirements

Tattoo shops must also be licensed.

If you operate a tattoo parlor or any similar establishment in the permanent makeup or tattoo industry, it is important that you have a license. If you are the owner but do not perform any body piercing or permanent make up procedures, you do not also need to have a license as long as the tattoo parlor is licensed.

Licenses for tattooing and body piercing do not automatically transfer between states. Therefore, it is important that you research the general requirements for tattooing if you plan on moving.

You can find the rules and regulations about your license transfer on the website for the Board of Barbers and Cosmetology.

If you tattoo without a license, you could be found guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Things You Should Know:

Parental Consent Form for minors must be completed to tattoo anyone under 18. The tattoo age for a person in Virginia is 18. Virginia laws state that if you are a minor, you may get a tattoo if you have a parent or guardian sign a written consent form first. This parent or legal guardian must also be present while the actual tattooing is occurring.

If you do not have that following disclosure completed, you could be found guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor, unless you are a medical doctor or registered nurse completing the tattoo as part of a medical procedure.

If you're interested in getting a tattoo license in Virginia, it's important that you familiarize yourself with the state's requirements. In order to obtain a tattoo license in VA, you must be at least 18 years old and have completed an approved training program.

Once you have your license, make sure to follow all of the health and safety guidelines to keep both you and your clients safe. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that everyone has a positive experience when getting tattoos in Virginia.

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
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
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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