Iowa Tattoo Laws in 2023 (Age, Fines & More)

Both for residents of the US and tourists, the state of Iowa has a strong pull for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, the landscape of Iowa is incredibly diverse for a state in the Midwest region of the US. The western part of Iowa is made up of rolling hills, while the central and eastern parts are mostly flat prairies. This variety makes Iowa a great place to live or visit if you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or fishing.

In addition, Iowa is home to a number of historical landmarks and museums. For example, the Amana Colonies in eastern Iowa are a National Historic Landmark District that consists of seven German-American villages that were founded in the mid-19th century.

Finally, Iowa is known to be jam-packed with incredibly talented tattoo artists and affordable parlors. It’s no wonder, then, that the state has been dubbed the “Tattoo Capital of the Midwest.”

So, if you’re looking for a place to get inked up, Iowa is definitely worth a visit. With that said, Iowa is no different from other regions of the US in the sense that it has its own specific tattoo laws. They’re one of the strictest around, too.

Stick with us for a couple of minutes to learn more about the latest tattoo laws in Iowa.

Iowa Tattoo Laws & Regulations

Whether you’re a person looking to get tattooed in Iowa or a tattoo artist operating in the state, there are a few things you need to know about the state’s policy on tattoos.

Tattoo Laws for Customers

As in other states, the most important rule for clients is that relating to the minimum age. The tattoo laws for minors in Iowa are pretty strict – meaning you’re illegible for the ink work if you’re under the age of 18.

While other states allow for the procedure on minors to be carried out with parental consent (eg. Idaho allows folks as young as 14 to get inked), this is not the case in Iowa. For anyone under 18 years of age, tattooing is strictly prohibited by state law.

The only exception to this rule is if the tattoo is performed for medical purposes by a licensed physician or surgeon.

A minor getting inked in Iowa is an offense but the only side facing criminal charges will be the tattoo artist.

Tattoo Laws for Artists

Continuing from the point above, it’s important to note that the artist will be the one held accountable if they tattoo a minor in Iowa – not the minor or their parents. In case the law is broken in this aspect, the tattoo artist faces a fine, suspension of his license or, in extreme cases, a prison sentence.

Furthermore, the artist must also adhere to a few other regulations in order to operate legally in Iowa.

First and foremost, all tattoo artists in Iowa must have a valid license from the state in order to operate.

In addition to this, all parlors must be registered with the state and must follow specific guidelines in regard to sanitation and safety. That means:

  • The shop must be clean and free of any debris
  • All needles must be sterile and disposable
  • Ink caps and other materials must also be disposable
  • The shop must have the right equipment to sterilize needles, tubes, and other tools

Needless to say, tattooing from home or any other unlicensed and unregistered location is strictly prohibited.

It’s not like the artists have only rules to adhere to – he also has some laws. He’s permitted to decline to tattoo anyone for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • The artist feels the customer is too drunk or intoxicated
  • The customer refuses to provide proper identification
  • The tattoo design requested is racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive
  • The artist simply doesn’t like the design the customer has chosen
  • The artist is uncomfortable with tattooing certain body parts


All the above information on the Iowa tattoo laws is based on official sources: