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Visiting Tattoo Artist Permits

Tattooing in Hawaii cannot occur outside of a permitted location, but there are some new developments.  Initial Hawaii permit applications must be accompanied by a fee of $125.   Hawaii Tattoo Shop permits still must be renewed annually at the renewal rate of $75, due by December 31st. This fee is still substantially below many other states.  Fees have been increased, and rightfully so, as there had not been an increase in nearly two decades.

Temporary permits will be available for conventions and educational exhibitions/demonstrations. Temporary tattoo permits are for a maximum of 7 consecutive days and fall into one of two categories: educational or commercial. Temporary permit applications must be made in writing to the department at least sixty days prior to the scheduled event and must include specific measures to meet specified health and safety standards, and may be subject to a site inspection. Temporary tattoo permit applicants shall pay a $50 nonrefundable application fee in addition to:
(1) A $500 nonrefundable permit fee for an event featuring not more than forty participating tattoo artists; or
(2) A $50 nonrefundable permit fee for an event featuring less than three participating tattoo artists demonstrating for educational purposes only, without compensation, consideration, or donation by the public

Our reasoning behind these two categories with very different requirements is to allow for, say, a Samoan Tafuga to do a demonstration at one of the museums or perhaps a Japanese tattoo master in conjunction with an exhibition. This is a very different thing than a tattoo convention where the general public is getting work from numerous tattooists. From our previous phone surveys we are fully aware that a number of tattooists in Hawaii feel that conventions can pose a health risk (ourselves included). This is why we have stipulated no more than 40 participating artists and that health standards must be met. If conventions are to occur here (which is bound to happen) we want to insure that it is done in a safe manner with controls in place.

Temporary Hawaii tattoo licenses are available to visiting tattooists for a maximum of 14 days in any given calendar year. Applications must be made in writing to the Department of Health and Sanitation 60 days prior to one’s intended working dates. Similar testing or alternative course requirements apply, provided that the course/test was taken & passed within two years of the date of application. Application fees for temporary licenses are $100.

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