DES MOINES - New tattoo artists practicing in Iowa will be subject to minimum educational requirements next Jan. 1 under licensing rules spelled out by state health officials Wednesday.

Members of the Iowa Board of Public Health put their stamp of approval on new tattoo licensing rules that boost yearly fees for business establishments and artists, set minimum requirements for new artists to have a high-school diploma or general educational development certification and make other regulatory changes.

Carmily Stone, chief of the state Department of Public Health's environmental health services bureau, said the rule modifications were the first Iowa updates in 20 years and came in part at the request of the industry.

All tattoo parlors and artists will be subject to the higher annual fees for licensing and state inspections, but businesses and individuals currently engaged in the tattoo practice in Iowa will be exempt from the new minimum education and zoning changes now scheduled for Jan. 1, 2010, she said. Also, all licensees and inspectors will be required to complete a blood-borne pathogen course beginning next year.

"Right now, as far as tattoo artists go, there's no minimum education requirement," Stone said. "There's not really a class that you can go out and take to be a tattoo artist.

"We thought that establishing a minimum baseline for education - it gives them the basics of math and science, which they need to run a business. They're performing tattoos on people, so we felt that gave them a basis for math and science and it just gave them credibility."

Currently, tattoo establishments must pay a $25 licensing fee and $200 inspection fee each year. Those amounts will increase to $100 and $250, respectively, effective next Jan. 1. The $40 yearly tattoo artist fee will increase from $40 to $75, and temporary fees for out-of-state artists performing tattoo services at such events as the Iowa State Fair will double from $25 to $50 next Jan. 1.

The rules do not apply to body-piercing activities, which are not subject to state regulation. There have been repeated attempts to pass such legislation, but the issue has stalled in the General Assembly and never made it to the governor's desk.

State rules still require tattoo artists and anyone receiving a tattoo to be at least 18 years of age, Stone said. Anyone failing to meet the state licensing requirements or providing a tattoo to a minor could be charged with committing a serious misdemeanor under Iowa law.

The rule changes provide that tattooing shall not be practiced in a residential dwelling, including an attached garage, and that all new tattoo establishments after next Jan. 1 must be housed in a building zoned for commercial use.

However, the rules include waivers for establishments currently being operated in a residential dwelling that was granted a state permit before Jan. 1, 2010. A similar waiver to the minimum educational requirements applies to artists licensed before next Jan. 1.

Stone said her agency received about 615 responses during a public comment period that included a public hearing last February.