Body art tattooing businesses and tattooists who operate in NSW have to be licensed with NSW Fair Trading.
It is an offence to perform a body art tattooing procedure for a fee or reward or conduct a body art tattooing business without an appropriate licence and heavy penalties apply.
However, transitional arrangements apply for operators and tattooists who lodged their licence applications with NSW Fair Trading prior to 1 October 2013, see below for details.
Individuals and businesses that only perform cosmetic tattooing procedures are exempt from the new licensing requirements.
Anyone who performs body art tattooing procedures for a fee or reward, or who runs a body art tattooing business in NSW will need to be licensed.
A ‘body art tattooing’ procedure is a tattooing procedure performed for decorative purposes.
A ‘body art tattooing business’ is a business, which carries out body art tattooing procedures, whether or not the business also carries out other activities.
If you are a self-employed individual who runs a body art tattooing business and performs tattooing procedures at that premises, you do not need a separate tattooist licence. If you hold an operator licence as the nominated premises manager, then you are not considered to be a self-employed individual and you will be required to hold a tattooist licence to perform tattooing procedures.
If you operate from more than one location, you must have a separate operator licence for each location.
You need a tattooist licence if you work or intend to work as a body art tattooist in NSW. This is an individual who performs body art tattooing procedures for a fee or reward.
You will not need a licence if you only perform cosmetic tattooing procedures, which are procedures performed:
Licences are granted for a period of 3 years and payments can be made by cash, cheque, or credit card. Licence costs are as follows:
If your application is refused, on the ground of an adverse security determination made by the Commissioner of Police, the licence fee will not be refunded. If you withdraw your application, you may apply for a refund of the licence fee less the processing component of the fee.
To apply for either a tattooist or operator licence you must:
Applicants for a tattooist licence must also provide details of their previous, current, existing or upcoming employment as a body art tattooist, including any employment as an apprentice.
Applicants for an operator licence must also comply with the following requirements in addition to those stated above:
If you are applying as an individual nominated by an organisation to be the premise's manager, you must provide details of the entity and individuals involved with a letter nominating you to be the premise's manager.
The licence application forms have more detail about the specific requirements for tattooist and operator licences, which are available from the Forms section of the Fair Trading website.
For existing tattoo parlour operators and tattooists, who do not have a licence:
For new tattoo parlour operators:
A person is considered to be a close associate if they will:
A close associate may be an individual or a corporation or other entity (eg. a partnership or trust). For the full definition please refer to Section 4 of the Tattoo Parlours Act 2012 (the Act).
Under the Act, the Commissioner of Police must make a security determination about the applicant and consider all the people who may affect the business, including all close associates. Their written consent and identification documents are required to ensure that each individual is correctly identified to enable the NSW Police Force to make a security determination.
Secure information obtained about close associates (including the results of the National Police Check) will be treated confidentially and will not be disclosed to third parties, such as the applicant, except where required by the law.
Close associates are required to complete a declaration and provide certified copies of three forms of approved identification so that National Police Checks can be conducted. This information can either be provided to the applicant to submit with their application or the close associate can provide it to Fair Trading directly. The application will not be considered without the declaration and identification documents.
Licence applications can be lodged:
Once you lodge an application with Fair Trading:
Please note it may take some time to process your application. If it is approved, you will receive a letter advising when to collect your licence card from your nominated Roads & Maritime Services (RMS) registry or Service NSW Centre. You must provide identity documents acceptable to RMS when collecting your licence.
If your application is unsuccessful, you will receive a letter advising you of the outcome and if relevant, the reasons for the decision. If you disagree with the decision, you may apply to the NSW Civil and Adminstrative Tribunal (NCAT) for a review. Visit their website for more details http://www.ncat.nsw.gov.au
If you conduct a body art tattooing business, even if it is not at a formal tattoo parlour, you are required to hold an operator’s licence.
Yes, interstate artists working in NSW must apply for a licence in the same way as NSW residents.
The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (MRA) entitles people holding an occupational licence or registration in one state or territory to an equivalent licence in another state or territory provided the work is licensed in both.
Not all states and territories licence tattoo artists. If applying for a tattooist licence in NSW under mutual recognition you must complete both the application for a tattooist licence and the Notice for Registration of Equivalent Occupation. These forms are available from the Forms section of the Fair Trading website.
Individuals or organisations wishing to hold tattoing shows where body art tattooing procedures will be performed, must apply for a permit. A tattooing show permit may be issued for a maximum of 7 days with a maximum of two permits per person per year. To apply for an tattooing show permit you must:
REMEMBER: You are required to provide the Secretary with the personal details of the body art tattooists who will be performing at the show no later than 14 days prior to the date of the show.
The permit holder is required to maintain a written list of the details of the authorised participants at the show at all times the show is open to the public. The written list must be produced to an authorised officer on demand. The permit holder must ensure that no body art tattooing procedures are carried out by persons who are not authorised participants as heavy penalties apply.
Body art tattooists who live in NSW or in another Australian jurisdiction, or normally reside in another country do not need a licence under the Act to be able to carry out body art tattooing at a show, provided these requirements are met.
The body art tattooists who perform at the show are known as “authorised participants”. An individual is an “authorised participant” of the show if:
An individual ceases to be an authorised participant of a show if:
Visiting overseas body art tattooists
If you live outside of Australia and wish to visit NSW to perform body art tattooing procedures for a fee or reward at a show, then you can do so, provided you do it as an authorised participant of a show. As an authorised participant, you can also carry out body art tattooing procedures at the premises of a licensed tattoo parlour operator for a period of up to 31 days a year. However, to do so, a person must ensure that they:
Under the Act, a licence is granted subject to specific conditions. However, Fair Trading may impose additional conditions on a licence. All licensees must not sell, rent out or lend their licence to anyone. Operators must also:
The maximum penalty for not complying with a licence condition is $2,200.
Anyone operating a body art tattooing business or performing body art tattooing procedures without a licence or permit, or not covered by the transitional arrangements that apply will be breaking the law and may be subject to penalties.
Maximum penalties for operators are as follows:
Maximum penalties for tattooists are as follows:
The law also allows the NSW Police Force to enter tattoo parlours or premises suspected of being used to perform body art tattooing procedures with sniffer dogs to check for drugs, firearms and explosives.
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