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Tattoo/Body Piercing

A tattoo is a permanent marking created by inserting pigment with needles under the skin. A body piercing is the perforation of a body part, for the purpose of inserting jewelry. If performed improperly or in an unsanitary manner, the transmission of diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) can occur.

The Tattoo and Body Piercing Program was developed to control the transmission of disease to practitioners and to those receiving tattoos and piercings. Under County Code 114, the Department of Health inspects tattoo and body piercing establishments to ensure they are being operated in a safe and sanitary manner.

All tattoo and body piercing practitioners must obtain a permit from the Saint Joseph County Department of Health. In addition, the facility where tattoos and body piercings are administered must also be permitted by the Department of Health. Permit renewals are due by the last day of February each year. Practitioners must also receive annual training and certification in blood-borne pathogens and the handling of infectious waste.

For more information on obtaining a practitioner permit or if you have concerns regarding an establishment or practitioner, contact the Department of Health at (574) 235-9722.

  • Forms and Permits
  • What should I look for when selecting a location to get a tattoo or piercing?
    • The tattoo artist, piercer, and establishment should be neat and clean in appearance.
    • Patron (client) rights must be displayed.
    • There should be handwashing facilities with running water available.
    • The staff should be willing and able to answer your questions.
    • Tattoo artists and piercers should not work when sick.
    • Tattoo artists and piercers must wear gloves when tattooing and piercing.
    • All equipment should be single-use. Each needle and tube set should be individually packaged, dated, sealed, sterilized, and opened immediately prior to your tattoo.
    • A new ink supply should be poured into a disposable container.
    • Any razors, needles, ink, plastic trays or containers, gloves, or ointments used in your tattoo application should be discarded after use.
    • Appropriate disinfectants should be used to clean the work area after tattoo application.
  • Indiana Law

    It is a criminal offense for anyone to give a tattoo to a person under 18 years old without the written permission of a parent or guardian.

    *it is critical that anyone receiving a tattoo or piercing ensures that they are receiving the procedure only from a licensed practitioner ar a licensed establishment.

    St. Joseph County Code 114 Tattoos and Body Piercing