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General Information

State of Rhode Island
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Rhode Island Body Art Sterilization Guidelines

SECTION 28. Section 23-1-39 of the General Laws in Chapter 23-1 entitled "Department of Health" is hereby amended to read as follows:

23-1-39. Tattooing and/or body piercing. - (a) The director shall promulgate rules and regulations which provide minimum requirements to be met by any person performing tattooing and/or body piercing upon any individual and for any establishment where tattooing and/or body piercing is performed. These requirements shall include, but not be limited to, general sanitation of premises wherein tattooing and/or body piercing is to be performed and sterilization of instruments. These rules and regulations shall place emphasis on the prevention of disease, specifically including, but not limited to, transmission of hepatitis B and/or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

(b) In addition, these rules and regulations shall establish procedures for registration with the department of health of all persons performing tattooing and/or body piercing, for registration of any establishment where tattooing and/or body piercing is performed, for regular inspections of premises wherein tattooing and/or body piercing is performed, and for revocation of the registration of any person or establishment deemed in violation of the rules and regulations promulgated under this section. An annual registration fee in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) fifty-eight dollars ($58.00) shall be paid by any person or establishment registered to perform tattooing or body piercing under this section. All fees shall be deposited by the department as general revenues.

(c) Body piercing of a minor is prohibited; provided, however, that body piercing will be allowed if the minor is accompanied by his or her parent or guardian, and the parent or guardian gives consent to the body piercing.

Rhode Island statutes authorize the director of the state Department of Health (DOH) to regulate tattooing and they also create two criminal penalties for tattooing offenses. Tattooing anyone under age 18 is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year or a fine of up to $300 (R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-9-15). The statute contains wording to the effect that its provisions should not be construed as prohibiting the removal of tattoo markings from the body of anyone regardless of his age. Students in any public, private, parochial, or military school, college, or other educational institution are prohibited from tattooing or knowingly permanently marking the body of any fellow student by the use of nitrate of silver (R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-21-3). Violation is punishable by imprisonment for between one and 10 years.


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