Frequently asked questions: Tattoos, body piercing, body art, and permanent cosmetics

Get answers to frequently asked questions about tattoo, body piercing, and body art licenses.

Why are body piercing, tattooing, and body art regulated?

These practices involve invasive procedures that use needles, sharps, instruments, and jewelry which may be dangerous when improperly sterilized. Improper sterilization presents a risk of infecting clients with blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis. In the interest of public health, safety, and welfare, the legislature passed body art, body piercing, and tattooing laws (RCW 18.300) to set requirements for the commercial practice of these activities.

What practices need to be licensed?

Tattoo artists, body art artists, body piercers, and permanent cosmetics artists must have a license. Any location where these services are provided must have a shop, mobile unit, or event license.

Will the Department of Licensing inspect all shops?

The law requires all shops to have an inspection. We inspect all shops on a 2-year rotation. In addition, we respond to all written complaints with an investigation or more frequent inspections.

I lost my license/I forgot my license number. How can I find that information?

You can find your license and license number online using the License Lookup tool.

How can I update my insurance online?

See step-by-step instructions on how to update your insurance online.

How can I get or renew my license?

See step-by-step instructions on how to renew your license online.

What forms of payment do you accept?

  • Online: We accept online payments using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express debit or credit card.
  • By mail: Mailed payments must be made with a check or money order, payable to the Department of Licensing.
  • By phone: We can't accept payments over the phone.

How can I get an additional copy of my license?


By mail

To get a printed license when applying by mail, you must send the license print fee with your application.

To request a printed copy of your license, send us the following information:

  • Name
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • License type
  • License number
  • Check or money order for the license print fee, payable to the Department of Licensing

Mail to:

Tattoo, Body Art, Body Piercing Program
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3856
Seattle, WA 98124-3856

Need additional help? Here's how to contact us:

call Phone: 360-664-6660
(TTY: Call 711)
mail Email:
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