Tattoo Stencil

Tattoo establishments are inspected once a year or more often if there are complaints. ​Ensuring proper sanitation and bloodborne precaution practices at tattoo establishments is important for public health.

Online health inspections are available soon after the inspection is completed. Check out the current sanitation of your tattoo artist before you get a tattoo!

Tattoo Rules and Regulations

Buying, Building, Remodeling a Tattoo Establishment?

Tattoo permits are issued to each artist at a particular establishment. If a tattoo artist moves to a different location, a new permit is needed for that location prior to tattooing. Contact zoning to ensure that the business address is zoned for commercial use. Contact municipal building inspections for electrical/plumbing permits. Tattoo establishments are not permitted in residences. 

Apply for a Tattoo Permit

Review the Process for Submitting a Tattoo Application. Complete and submit the Tattoo Application. The application can be emailed to or faxed to 919-743-4772. 

Tattoo Permit Fees

There is an Annual Permit Fee of $300 for both new tattoo permits and annual permit renewals.

A Temporary Permit Fee, valid for 1–14 consecutive days, is $150. Temporary tattoo permits may be issued for: 

  • Visiting artists

  • Instructional classes

  • Tattoo conventions

Payments can be made online through Permit Portal after reviewing the how-to guide, by mailing a check, or in person at the Wake County Office Building, Suite 101, 336 Fayetteville St., Raleigh. 

Safety Risks in Tattooing

Tattoos are safe as long as you go to a reputable artist who is following all recommended safety precautions; however, it is important to remember that tattoos are not risk-free. The health risks associated with tattooing are small if appropriate disinfection and sterilization techniques are used. Some risks include: 

Infection – Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit bloodborne illnesses such as Hepatitis B and C, tetanus, TB and HIV. It is extremely important to make sure that all tattooing equipment is clean and sterilized before use. In addition, the person who receives a tattoo must be sure to care for the tattooed area properly during the first week or so after pigments are injected. 

Tattoo removal problems – Despite advances in laser technology, removing a tattoo is a painstaking process, usually involving several treatments and considerable expense. Complete removal without scarring may be impossible. 

Allergic reactions – Although allergic reactions are rare, when they do happen they may be particularly troublesome because the pigments can be hard to remove. Occasionally, people may develop an allergic reaction to tattoos they have had for years. 

Keloid Formation – If you are prone to developing keloids – scars that grow beyond normal boundaries – you are at risk of keloid formation from a tattoo. 

MRI complications – There are reports of people with tattoos or permanent makeup who experienced swelling or burning in the affected areas when they underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This seems to appear only rarely and apparently without lasting effects. Individuals with tattoos or permanent makeup should inform the radiologist or technician of this fact in order to take appropriate precautions, avoid complications and ensure the best results. 


If you have a concern about something you see, speak to the owner or artist directly. This is the best way to deal with a problem. If you still have concerns, you may also call us at 919-856-7400 or click the link below to register a complaint.