Body Art

Body art is the making of art on the human body. Tattoos, piercings, branding, and other specific body modifications can be unique and personal ways to express individuality. When done in a licensed body art shop under proper conditions, body art can be something a person can enjoy for many years.

Within Michigan, facilities that conduct body art procedures must be licensed by the state, and then are inspected by health departments. Tattooing, piercing, branding or other specific body art procedures done outside of a licensed shop is illegal. This webpage contains information to assist body art shop owners, artists, and their potential clients. Complaints can also be filed against a licensed shop or individuals conducting body art practices outside of a licensed shop.

Be well informed before having body art done. Improper procedures or having body art done outside of a licensed shop puts you at risk of receiving any number of illnesses and/or infections. This can jeopardize your health and be costly to remedy.

How do I know if the body art facility I’m visiting is licensed?

Licensed body art facilities are required to display their state issued license in their customer area. Michigan also maintains a list of all of the licensed body art facilities.

More Frequently Asked Questions (MDHHS) »

Body Art Shop Owner and Artist Information

  • Laws and Regulations

    Body art shops are required to obtain a license from Michigan Department of Human Health and Services (MDHHS) and must receive at least one annual inspection by the local health department. Body art shops are regulated by Michigan Public Act. 375 and Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) “Requirements for Body Art Facilities”. These documents continue to be updated, so be sure you are familiar with the most recent editions. Michigan Public Act. 375 (Body Art Law) gives local health departments the authority to enforce “Requirements for Body Art Facilities”. Health departments use a standardized inspection form created by MDHHS when conducting an inspection. The items listed on the form in red are critical items and will require a follow up visit. The items in black are non-critical and would need to be corrected by the next regular inspection. Below are links for the law, requirements, and inspection form.

  • Client Records and Forms

    Body art facilities are required to provide clients with specific forms prior to and after a procedure. Before a body art procedure, clients must be given a copy of the disclosure statement and asked about certain medical conditions. After a procedure, clients must receive verbal AND written aftercare instructions. The links below are for the minimum requirements for these documents.

  • Employee Records

    There are three forms required to be filled out by each body art facility employee. These forms are to be kept for a minimum of three years after the end of employment.

    Each employee in the facility (not just artists) are required to have a current bloodborne pathogen certification. The bloodborne pathogen training must done in person. Online training is not acceptable. The Kent County Health Department is currently developing an in-person bloodborne pathogen training course to help artists fulfill this requirement. Once completed, registration and course dates will be posted on Kent County Health Department Body Art webpage.

  • Required Documents

    Each facility is required to have specific documents on site. A current MIOSHA Bloodborne Infectious Disease Exposure Control Plan is one of them. This must be site specific and will fulfill certain requirements under MIOSHA. Facilities are also required to obtain a three year “Certificate of Registration as a Medical Waste Producing Facility”.

  • Plan Review: New and Existing Facilities

    When a new facility is being constructed, remodeled, or changing ownership, they must go through a process called plan review. Plan review is a combination of document review and an on-site inspection of the body art shop. A plan review checklist is used to evaluate the facility to make sure it meets the requirements of the law. Newly constructed or remodeled facilities must first receive an on-site inspection approving them to operate.

    New facilities have an additional step. They have 30 days after being approved to operate to apply for an inspection. This inspection will count as the annual inspection required by law.


Licensed Body Art Shop Complaints

All licensed body art facilities are required to post the “Notice for Filing Complaints” sign (link below) within the customer area of their shop. To file a complaint with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for a licensed body art shop, please click the below online complaint form.

Unlicensed Body Art Shop Complaint

If you want to report a complaint about someone conducting body art procedures outside of a licensed body art shop you can call our office at 616-632-6900 to file a complaint or you can print and complete the Unlicensed Body Art Complaint Form and send to:

Kent County Health Department
ATTN: Environmental Health
700 Fuller Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

This completed form can also be sent to: or faxed to: 616-632-6892.