Landscape of legislation and safety efforts in the European Union

Current legal state of tattooing in Europe


In 2003, the European Union released the first resolution on tattoo and permanent inks which was revised in 2008 (ResAP(2008)1). A resolution is not legally binding but the resolution suggests that member states implement national legislations regarding tattoo and permanent make up inks. On EU level, there is no common legislation. However, tattoos and similar procedures fall under Directive 2001/95/EC on General Product Safety (GPSD) which is requiring that only safe products are placed on the market. Some member states transferred the ResAP(2008)1 into national law. Additionally, 3 EFTA (European Free Trade Association) countries implemented legislations on tattoo inks.

Since 2015, the European Union started a restriction process of tattoo inks under REACH. Stake holders including the ESTP oppose the proposal and submitted comments during two public hearings. The final proposal may be accepted by all member states end of 2019. If implemented, the new laws will need to be followed from 2021.

In any case, preservatives used in tattoo inks fall under the Biocide Directive

into product type 6 (in-can products). Thus, biocides normally used for applications such as wall paints are allowed for tattooing (if these are not restricted by other laws, e.g. REACH tattoo restriction). Therefore, most common preservatives in tattoo inks known from cosmetics are not approved anymore.

Tattoo Parlor

Hygiene or required training needed to open a tattoo studio are not legally regulated on EU level. In each member state - sometimes even federal states within a country - other laws may apply. To our knowledge, no regulation on training needed to be a professional tattoo artist exists in any country.

In 2019, a CEN standard (DIN EN 17169) will be published on hygiene with tattooing. This standard is non-binding but can be made legally binding by national laws.

Some countries have laws on the age and how to give consent for getting a tattoo.


Until now, everybody can conduct laser removal if trained for laser safety. Starting from 2020, laser fall under the medicinal product regulation and may therefore only be allowed to be used for tattoo removal by trained physicians. However, this is still facing strong backlashes from opposed stake holders.

Other methods for removal with sometimes drastically side effects may still be applied by tattoo parlors or other persons – again without any regulation on training for these procedures.

Current legal state of tattooing in the USA

Laws that apply in the United States of America can be found here: