Brown’s Legislation to Require Licensure for PA Tattoo and Body Piercing Businesses Heads to House

HARRISBURG – The House Health Committee on Monday passed legislation authored by state Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) that would establish regulations for tattoo and body piercing businesses in the Commonwealth.

“Many individuals incorrectly assume these establishments are licensed because they use needles,” said Brown. “However, there are currently no licensing requirements for tattoo establishments or body art practitioners in Pennsylvania.”

Brown’s legislation, dubbed “The Body Art Establishment Regulation Act,” would require a $100 licensing fee per establishment.

Under this legislation, the Department of Health would:

  • Conduct an initial inspection, upon receipt of an application.
  • Randomly inspect establishments annually.
  • Set health and safety standards to ensure body art procedures are performed in sterile environments by qualified professionals.

According to a recent Harris poll, 21 percent of U.S. adults have at least one tattoo. Reflecting the national popularity, as of 2012, Pennsylvania has upward of 750 tattoo parlors or artists.

The estimated 750 businesses in Pennsylvania is based on known advertising and does not include those operating out of homes, mobile units or other non-sterile environments. These underground operators may employ dangerous practices such as reusing ink or using contaminated needles.

The only regulation now on the books in Pennsylvania makes it unlawful to tattoo a person under the age of 18 without parental consent. In 2009, the General Assembly considered regulating the tattooing industry, but legislation was not enacted.

“There is a real concern that tattoos and body piercings may be occurring in less than sterile environments,” said Brown. “Because of the health and safety issues surrounding the use of tattoo needles and the various safety risks associated with contaminated bodily fluids, it is necessary for minimum standards to be established in order to safeguard consumers’ health and safety during these invasive procedures.”

This legislation has garnered the support of the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology.

“As medically trained skin experts, dermatologists see the adverse effects that can occur when tattooing, body piercing and corrective cosmetics are performed in an unregulated environment,” said Maurice A. Thew, M.D, president of Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology. “Risks include localized bacterial infections and blood-borne infectious disease. There have been reports that non-sterile tattooing practices have led to the transmission of syphilis, hepatitis B and C, and other infectious organisms.”

This legislation now heads to the full House for consideration. For more legislative information, visit Brown’s website at or follow her legislative Facebook page at

Representative Rosemary M. Brown
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Lauren Whetzel
Share |