Delaware County, Indiana

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Tattoo and Body Piercing Permitting and Inspecting Program


Tattoo is any indelible design, letter, scroll, figure, symbol, or other mark placed with the aid of needles or other instruments upon the skin; or any design, letter, scroll, figure, or symbol done by scarring upon the skin; any piercing of the mucous membranes or the skin through which needles or other items are inserted. 

Body piercing is the perforation of any human body part other than the earlobe for the purpose of inserting jewelry or other decoration or for some other nonmedical purpose. Performed properly, tattooing and body piercing are safe forms of personal expression. Performed improperly or in an unsanitary manner, they can cause a number of serious or fatal illnesses including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

It is critical that anyone obtaining a tattoo or a body piercing ensure that they obtain the procedure only from a licensed practitioner at a licensed facility. It is a criminal offense for anyone to give a tattoo to a person under eighteen years old without the written permission of a parent or guardian in Indiana.

If you have information indicating that this has occurred, please contact the Health Department.
The training of tattoo and body piercing practitioners and the safe operation of establishments are governed by the requirements of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (29 CFR 1910.1030), the Indiana Department of Health (410 IAC 1-5) and the Delaware County Health Department (Ordinance 98-007 A).

The Delaware County Tattoo and Body Piercing Ordinance (Ordinance 98-007 A) was developed to control the transmission of diseases to persons both providing and receiving tattoos and body piercings. The program involves reviewing and approving applications to obtain a practitioner or establishment license and inspecting practitioners and establishments to ensure the facilities and all activities performed are safe and sanitary and in compliance with State and County laws.

All tattoo and body piercing practitioners must receive yearly training and certification in blood-borne pathogens and the handling of infectious waste in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (as found in 29 CFR 1910.1030) and the Indiana Department of Health (as found in 410 IAC 1-5). They must conduct their activities in a safe and sanitary manner, keep necessary records, and have written operating procedures in addition to many other requirements. Penalties up to $2,500 per day per violation may be imposed for violations of County ordinance 98-007 A.. The Health Department does not address complaints concerning the aesthetic quality of the tattoo or piercing.

What Should I Look for When Getting a Tattoo or Body Piercing?

  • Always ask to see a current license for the establishment and the practitioner. Never get a procedure if they cannot be provided.
  • Absolutely always make sure that every needle or other device that will penetrate the skin is taken out of a sterile, individually-wrapped package. 
  • Absolutely always make sure the dyes or pigments are taken out of unused single-use containers.  
  • Make sure the practitioner always uses gloves. If a glove tears it must be replaced.
  • The general cleanliness of the establishment is always a good indication of how much importance the practitioner places on disease protection.
  • If the practitioner is an apprentice, they must be under the direct supervision of a practitioner.
  • If the practitioner is ill do not get the procedure.
  • It is NEVER legal to tattoo or piece out of a home.

The links below provide important information for anyone who is considering getting a tattoo or body piercing: