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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is tattooing?
NC General Statute 130A-283 defines tattooing as "the inserting of permanent markings or coloration, or the producing of scars, upon or under human skin through puncturing by use of a needle or any other method."

Q. Is a permit required to practice tattooing in NC?

Q. Does a tattoo permit signify a skill level?
No, the permit means that the studio & the artist have met minimum state sanitation standards; there is no testing of artistic ability.

Q. Does the artist have to have a physical exam or provide proof of any inoculations?

Q. What kind of Grade should I look for in a tattoo shop?
Artists are not graded on an A-B-C scale.  In order to operate the artist must comply with all health requirements including proper instrument sterilization, proper sanitary technique, general building construction, cleanliness of equipment, approved water supply and wastewater disposal.

Q. Can I get HIV from a tattoo?
This is highly unlikely. HIV is a very fragile virus that dies quickly at room temperature & is destroyed by general cleaning & sanitizing practices. However, in any setting where blood contact occurs there is the possibility of blood-borne pathogens being transmitted, so proper precautions must be taken.

Q. What can be transmitted during the tattooing process?
The main concerns are hepatitis & localized bacterial infections. Generally, experienced & permitted artists are familiar with proper sanitary methods, which minimize chances of disease transmission.

Q. What is body piercing, & is it regulated in Mecklenburg County?
Body piercing means puncturing or penetration of the skin of a person with pre-sterilized single-use needles and the insertion of pre-sterilized jewelry or other adornment thereto in the opening (piercing the earlobe is generally excluded from the definition of body piercing), unlike tattooing in which only pigment is inserted & does not totally penetrate the skin. Body piercing is not regulated in Mecklenburg County, or in N.C. at this time.

Q. What should I do if I know of someone who is tattooing without a permit?
Contact the Mecklenburg County Health Dept. at 704-336-5101. They will investigate to verify that the allegations are true, & if so take appropriate legal actions.

Q. If I want to learn the art of tattooing can I work under an established artist's permit?
No. Tattoo permits in N.C. are issued to the individual artist. You can observe an established artist, but to tattoo anyone yourself you must obtain your own permit.

Q. If I want to obtain a permit, what should I do?
Contact the Mecklenburg County Health Dept. at 704-336-5101. An Environmental Health Specialist will contact you to discuss the requirements.

Q. Does a tattoo permit mean the permitted artist can practice tattooing anywhere in N.C.?
No. The permit is specific to both the artist & the studio. If you look at an artist's permit you will see his name, & the address of the studio. If either doesn't match, the permit is likely not valid & you should contact the Mecklenburg County Health Dept.

Q. How long is the permit valid?
Permits are renewed annually & are good for one year.


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