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The Proclamation of Disaster Emergency signed by Governor Reynolds on 4/30/2021 has extended the reopening of all tattoo establishments until 11:59 pm on May 30, 2021.


On March 22, 2020 Governor Reynolds issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency (Proclamation) in response to COVID-19.  Parts of the Proclamation provided relief to various professions that require a license, certification or permit.  The tattoo program falls under one of those professions listed in the proclamation.   Since last March, the Governor has extended the provisions in the Proclamation.  However, it is unknown how long the Proclamation will ultimately remain in place.

Tattoo artists and establishments that have a permit that expired or will expire during the time period covered by the Proclamation can continue to work for as long as the Proclamation provisions are in place.  However, tattoo artists and establishment owners are highly encouraged to renew their permit on time, or as close to on time as possible.  Both the first aid certification and blood borne pathogen certifications required to renew can be completed remotely.  

Tattoo artists and establishments that expire during the time period covered by the Proclamation will not be issued any new permit documents that reflect the permit is still valid.  Tattoo artists and establishments that expire during the Proclamation can use this guidance of proof of permit if needed.  When tattoo artist and establishments do renew their permits they will receive updated permits that will be issued for the normal 2021 permit year. 

What does the Tattoo Program do?

  • Issues and manages artist permits
  • Issues and manages all establishment permits including:
    • Permanent establishments
    • Mobile establishments
      Effective 9/7/2016 no new mobile tattoo units will be permitted
    • Temporary establishments
  • Ensures that all tattooing performed in the State of Iowa is in accordance with Iowa Code section 135.37 and 641 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 22

For a current list of licensed artists and establishments, see the Resources page.

Tattoo applications and renewals are now online

To apply for or renew a permit go to:

Frequently Asked Questions

I would like to practice tattooing, cosmetic tattooing or microblading, what do I need to do?

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must have a high school diploma or G.E.D. (On-line high school diplomas are not acceptable)
  • Must complete Bloodborne Pathogen and Standard First Aid Training
  • Must complete Tattoo Artist Application
  • Must submit fee of $75.00 along with application

What is required to open a permanent tattoo establishment?

  • Must complete Permanent Establishment Application
  • Must submit $100.00 fee along with the application and floor plan
  • Must be located in a commercially-zoned building
  • Must pass inspection conducted by the Designated Inspection Agency
  • Must meet all requirements outlined in 641 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 22 (Refer to the Iowa Code link at the top of this page)

I would like to host a tattoo convention or temporary event, what do I need to do?

  • Must complete a Temporary Establishment Application
  • Submit fee based on the number of participating artists
  • Submit a copy of the floor plan
  • Refer to the Guidelines for Tattoo Establishments

Is body piercing regulated by state law?

  • No. Body piercing is not regulated by state law. However, some county or city health departments may have body piercing regulations. Be sure to check with your county or city health department.

Can a minor get a tattoo if they have parental consent?

  • No.  Individuals under the age of 18 are prohibited from getting a tattoo, regardless of parental consent.

How do I file a complaint?

  • The department does not accept anonymous complaints. To file a formal complaint, click here .

How long will it take for my application to be processed? 

  • The department processes applications in the order they are received
  • Typical processing time for new artist permits are 1-2 weeks
  • Typical processing time for establishment permits are 3-4 weeks
  • We will not process incomplete applications 
  • Applications submitted during the renewal cycle (October-December) may be delayed 

For more information about the Tattoo Program, contact: Chelsea Stevens at (515) 281-5894
Tattoo Program | Iowa Department of Public Health | 321 E. 12th Street | Des Moines, Iowa 50319