Body Art - Tattooing and Body Piercing

Statewide health regulations for tattooing and body piercing are currently being developed by the New York State Department of Health under the statutory authority of Public Health Law Article 4A. The law authorizes the Commissioner of Health to develop regulations establishing operating standards, fees, fines and penalties for failure to abide by the regulations. The law requires tattoo and body piercing operators to obtain a permit in order to operate a tattoo or body piercing studio and for all tattoo and piercing artists to obtain an individual permit.

Until the new regulations are in place, local regulations, if any, apply. For more information on regulations in your area, contact your county or city health department.

Risks associated with tattooing and body piercing

Tattooing and body piercing carry risks of infection and bloodborne disease transmission as well as allergic reactions, prolonged bleeding, swelling, scarring and general discomfort. Existing medical conditions such as allergies, heart disease, diabetes, skin disorders or conditions that affect the immune system may increase the risk of complications from tattooing and body piercing. You may wish to speak with a physician regarding potential health risks before getting a tattoo or body piercing. For more information, go to:

Risks to Consumers

Risks to Tattooists and Piercers

Tattooing of minors is against the law

It is violation of Section 260.21 of New York State Penal Law to tattoo minors under the age of 18, regardless of parental consent. Contact local law enforcement for more information.

If you get a tattoo, make sure that the tattooist

  • Washes their hands before tattooing and uses single-use gloves
  • Cleans the skin to be tattooed
  • Uses a single-use, disposable razor to shave the skin to be tattooed, if needed
  • Uses single-use sterile needles and tubes and single-use inks
  • Covers the tattooed skin with a bandage and provides aftercare information

Body piercing of minors without written consent of a parent or legal guardian is against the law

Effective October 28, 2012, New York State Public Health Law Article 4A. prohibits body piercing on a person under eighteen (18) years of age unless the person provides the body piercing establishment with written consent from a parent or legal guardian. The parent or legal guardian must sign a New York State Department of Health consent form (DOH 5072) in the presence of the owner of the body art establishment or in the presence of the body artist. Written parental consent is not required for piercing of the ear.

If you get a body piercing, make sure that the piercer

  • Washes their hands before piercing and uses single-use gloves
  • Cleans the area to be pierced
  • Uses a single-use, disposable razor to shave the skin to be pierced, if needed
  • Uses sterile needles, clamps, receiving tubes and body jewelry
  • Provides aftercare information

Related Links

Contact Information / Questions or Comments

Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Community Environmental Health & Food Protection
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1395
Albany, New York 12237
(518) 402-7600 or (800) 458-1158