What Is Required to Open a Tattoo Shop in California?

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One of the American Dreams is to own and operate your own business. If you are a particularly gifted artist, you may want to open a tattoo shop. If you live in California, you need to comply with very specific laws in order to get your business off the ground and running. You need to obtain a couple of permits, pay some filing fees, and ensure that your shop is sterile. Once you comply with the laws, you will be free to start your dream.

Apply for a Business Permit

  • California requires new businesses to apply for a business permit. To obtain a permit, visit your local Office of the City Clerk or your local business office. Typically, you need a business tax certificate. This certificate registers your shop with the local government and keeps it legitimate in terms of tax and operating information. In addition to the business license, you should check the zoning laws in the place where you plan on opening your tattoo business. Some local ordinances may restrict the zoning in such a way that it is illegal to open a tattoo shop where you want to open one. If this is the case, you will need to visit the local zoning and land planning office and apply for a land use permit. Land use permits allow you to use a piece of land in a way that might violate the zoning laws. These laws will differ according to county and location. Check the local ordinances before investing too much time and money into your location.

Register with the County Health Department

  • California law has strict health and safety laws associated with opening and operating a tattoo parlor. The reason is because you would be using needles and other items to pierce and mark a person's skin. You need to make sure your tools and your facility are clean and sterile to avoid the spread of disease. For this reason, you need to register with the local county health department. When you register, you must acknowledge that you understand all of the safety laws associated with the tattoo shop. This means you must know how to properly dispose of hazardous waste materials (such as old needles and other equipment). You can obtain a copy of all of the standards from the local community health department. In addition, you need to pay a filing fee. As of 2009, this fee cost $25. Finally, you must register to have your facility inspected annually. This registration cost $105 as of 2009.

Comply with the Safety Laws

  • Once you receive your permits and once you are cleared to operate your tattoo shop (under the zoning laws), you can start to run your business. The key is to keep it clean and sterile. Check with the California Conference of Local Health Officers to ensure that you are complying with the most recent laws. Basically, you need to keep your facility clean and sterile. Remember: you will be inspected annually. If you fail to comply with the health and safety laws, your license may be revoked and your business may be shut down.

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