Frequently Asked Questions from Licensees - Tattoo and Body Piercing Studios

Please pay careful attention to the rules as they are outlined in the minimum standards for licensure of tattoo and certain body piercing studios (tattoo/body piercing rules). You are required to abide by these rules. If they are violated you may face administrative, civil or criminal penalties. Criminal penalty violations are Class A Misdemeanors.

Texas Department of Health State Services (DSHS) Investigators perform inspections of tattoo and body piercing studios on a regular basis by means of routine and compliance inspections and by complaint investigations. Below is a listing of some frequently asked questions (FAQs) investigators encounter during inspections of tattoo and body piercing studios.

Do tattoo and body piercing studios need to have a license?

Yes. A tattoo or body piercing studio must have a current license issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to operate the studio. Licenses must be displayed in a prominent place in the studio and are site-specific. All tattoo and body piercing studio licenses issued by DSHS contain the name and physical location of the studio and the expiration date of the license.

I moved my studio across the street. Is my license still good?

No. In the event a tattoo/body piercing studio changes name or ownership or moves to another location (even if it is next door), a new Tattoo Studio License Application and/or Body Piercing Studio License Application must be submitted along with the appropriate fee.

I want to use a mobile studio to take to different events. What do I need to do?

Tattoo and body piercing studio licenses are address specific, so a license is required at each location or event where you are going to operate a studio. Mobile studios, such as trailers, are allowed to be used at events as long as they are to be used specifically for tattooing and body piercing, they do not contain living quarters, and they comply with all other aspects of the Tattoo and Body Piercing Rules.

Why do I need to maintain owner’s manuals for my sterilizer and ultrasonic cleaner here at my studio?

Instructions on how to operate the device and provide appropriate maintenance are included in the owner’s manuals. Investigators review these manuals during inspections to see if you are using the devices to specifications and providing the recommended maintenance.

What do the rules mean by “unobstructed access” to hand-washing facilities and why?

We consider “unobstructed access” to be a situation where the artist can wash his/her hands and return to the tattoo or body piercing area without having to handle an item, such as a door knob. The idea behind this rule is to prevent artists from contaminating their clean hands.

What do you mean by germicidal soap?

A germicidal soap is a product designed for use on the skin that kills disease-causing microorganisms. This includes products that contain povidone-iodine, chloroxylenol, triclosan and chlorhexidine gluconate (not to be considered all-inclusive).

I use only pre-sterilized instruments; do I still need a sterilizer and a sterilization log?

No. Studios that use instruments sterilized by a third party (such as a manufacturer) do not need to re-sterilize the items. Instead, studios must have documentation from the third party telling how the items were sterilized, how to store them to keep them sterile, and how long the items should be considered sterile. Remember that even if most of your instruments are pre-sterilized, jewelry and other reusable instruments may need to be sterilized before they can be used.

Do I need a notarized consent by a minor’s parent/guardian before I can give a minor a body piercing?

Body piercing clients must be 18 years old unless they have consent from the minor’s parent, guardian or managing conservator (the term “parent” is used in the FAQs). Studios have two options in obtaining consent for a body piercing:

  • Studios can accept a notarized consent from the parent that contains the name, address and phone number of the minor and the parent; the location on the body to be pierced; and the signatures of the parent and minor.
  • The parent can sign a consent form at the studio stating they will remain at the studio during the piercing; they have the authority to consent to the piercing; they presented identification for the minor; and they presented evidence they are the parent. Studios are responsible for demonstrating a clear relationship between the adult and the minor (for example, same last names and addresses on identification).

In both cases, studios are still required to complete a client record for the minor and retain the consent form. This includes recording the minor’s identification, the parent’s identification (when the parent is present), and other materials provided demonstrating a parental relationship.

Is a library card or student ID adequate identification for customers to provide when receiving a tattoo or body piercing?

Not for people 18 and older. Library cards and student ID cards are not considered acceptable forms of identification for adults because there is no uniformity between libraries or schools to allow your studio to determine if the ID is valid. The rules state clients must present a valid, government-issued, positive identification card, which includes a photograph and the date of birth. Several types of identification commonly seen include a driver’s license, passport, military identification and Department of Public Safety-issued ID cards.

What is the procedure if a client gets injured or an infection from tattoo/body piercing services?

Studios are required to report any infection/allergic reaction from a tattoo or body piercing (whether from your studio or someone else’s) in writing to the Texas Department of State Health Services within five working days of learning about the infection/allergic reaction.

Are there any sample records and client care sheets available to me?

Yes. We have sample forms for client records, care sheets, a sterilization log, a report of infection/allergic reaction, and affidavits for minors (parental consent forms) available on the Guidance Documents page or by mail. To have samples sent, call 512-834- 6711. These forms are not to be considered official or mandatory, but are provided as examples containing all required information.

Areservice animals allowed in tattoo and body piercing studios?  

Yes. The tattoo andbody piercing rules require facilities to comply with the Americans WithDisabilities Act.  The Americans With Disabilities Act requires serviceanimals to be allowed in the facility.  See the following guidance postedonline by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, furtherexplaining the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act related toservice animals here.

For licensing questions, browse the DSHS website or call 512-834-6600 Ext. 2174 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.