Tattoos, Permanent Make-Up & Body Piercing

Definition of Terms

  • Tattoos are permanent designs, pictures or other markings made on the skin by pricking the skin and staining it with an indelible ink.
  • Permanent Make-Up is a form of tattooing that is also known as micro pigmentation. It is often used as a replacement for traditional temporary make-up, as a means of simulating natural pigmentation following reconstructive surgery or certain medical conditions, or to enhance thin or missing eyebrows.

Regulation of Tattoo/Permanent Make-Up & Body Piercing Artists/Shops in Erie County

  • The minimum age to obtain a tattoo in Erie County is 18 years of age and the individual must show a valid government issued ID. Minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from receiving a tattoo. It is a misdemeanor under NYS Penal Law Section 260 for anyone to apply a tattoo to a person under the age of 18, with or without parental consent.
  • The minimum age to obtain a body piercing in Erie County is 18 years of age and the individual must show a valid government issued ID. Minors under the age of 18 are allowed to obtain a body piercing if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who provides informed written consent. The written consent must be filed in person at the body piercing shop by the parent or legal guardian and the parent or legal guardian must present valid government issued ID. 

How to Apply to Open a Tattoo Shop in Erie County

Tattoo shops may only operate at fixed locations, and are not allowed in private residences.  No mobile tattoo shops or shops operating at temporary locations are permitted at this time.

  1. Submit the following items to the ECDOH, 503 Kensington Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214 
    • Completed and signed Health Permit Application
    • $100 annual fee 
    • Architectural plans, or plans hand drawn to scale, of the shop showing all facilities, work areas, bathrooms, etc. Include schedules for surface finishes, plumbing, etc. as appropriate. 
    • Proof of NYS Worker’s Compensation/Disability Benefits Insurance Coverage or exemption 
  2. Familiarize yourself with Article XXII of the Erie County Sanitary Code.
  3. Check with your local municipality regarding appropriate zoning laws and other required municipal licenses and permits.

How to Apply to Operate as a Tattoo Artist in Erie County

Tattoo artists may only perform tattooing in a tattoo shop currently under permit with the ECDOH. 

Tattooing in private homes or other locations is prohibited. Artists must hold a separate artist certificate for each shop where they perform tattooing.  Artist certificates are non-transferable between shops. 

  1. Submit the following items to the ECDOH, 503 Kensington Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214 
  2. Familiarize yourself with Article XXII of the Erie County Sanitary Code.
  3. Pass a test, which will be administered by the ECDOH, on code requirements and hygienic practices.
  4. Be aware that most tattoo shop operators will require you to perform an apprenticeship period before they will allow you to conduct tattooing in their shop. This is not required by the ECDOH, but is up to the discretion of the shop operator.

File a Complaint

Resources and Additional Information

Contact 

Division of Environmental Health
ECDOH Building
503 Kensington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214 
Map of Campus
Phone: 716-961-6800 (For Emergencies after regular business hours: 716-961-7898)
Fax: 716-961-6880