HOW OLD DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO GET A TATTOO?

Tattooing minors: List of States and Regulations

Are you excited about getting your first tattoo, but not sure what age you can get one? A tattoo is for life, so it isn’t something you should rush into or get done illegally, especially as a minor.

We get this question A LOT.

We’ll go over all the rules and legislation set in place that regulate the minimum age requirement of getting tattooed. 

So, how old do you have to be to get a tattoo? For all states in the U.S. the minimum age is 18. The legal age in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are all 18 years old as well. In some cases, you might be able to get one younger than 18 with parental consent, but it depends on the state. 

If you want to know the legislation about legal age for getting tattooed in your state, follow this guide: 

What is the Youngest Age You Can Get a Tattoo?

Legally, the youngest you can get a tattoo in the U.S. is 18. At this age you will not have to get your parent’s permission, sign additional consent forms, get your age verified, or worry about breaking any state laws.

Every state has their own laws restricting body art and body modification on minors, and many times there are additional local laws. 

Technically speaking, there is no limit on how young a person can be to get a tattoo.

Thirty-eight states have laws that allow tattooing on minors with informed parental consent, or for the parent to be present. This does not mean a baby can just crawl in and get a tattoo, however.

Most tattoo artists will not tattoo anyone under the age of 15 or 16 for safety and liability purposes.  

So why does the government care what age a person gets tattooed at?

Reasons Behind Tattoo Age Restrictions

Age restrictions and tattoo regulations are set in place for two main reasons:

– OLD SCHOOL MENTALITY

Legislators are usually from older generations and more conservative, and often look down on tattoos. As a result, they use their political influence to make tattoos difficult to get, or illegal altogether, and make it harder for shops to operate in compliance.

Oklahoma didn’t legalize tattooing until 2006, and was the last state to do so.

– TATTOOING IS A MEDICAL PROCEDURE

 

The second reason for age restrictions is that tattooing is a medical procedure, therefore minimum standards must be met.

There are certain risks associated with tattooing, especially on minors.

Viruses, infections, and bacteria can be easily spread if a shop’s equipment is not properly sterilized and does not meet minimum standards. 

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List of States and their Regulations of Tattooing Minors

Nationally, the minimum age requirement in the United States is 18.

That means anyone who is 18 or older can be tattooed without parental consent. 

Getting tattooed as a minor, however, depends on the state you’re in. Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor.

Before you start planning your tattoo, familiarize yourself with the regulations of the state you plan on getting tattooed in.

Alabama  Minors need parental consent for a tattoo 
Alaska  Tattoos are prohibited on minors 
Arizona  Parent must be present for tattooing minors 
Arkansas  A parent’s signature is required for tattooing minors 
California  Tattoos are prohibited on minors; tattooing minors is a misdemeanor 
Colorado  Minors need parental consent for a tattoo 
Connecticut  Minors need parental consent AND a physician or RN must be present during tattooing 
D.C.  Tattoos are prohibited on minors 
Delaware  Minors need parental consent for a tattoo 
Florida  Minors need parental consent for a tattoo 
Georgia  Minors can only be tattooed by a licensed physician or under their supervision 
Hawaii  Minors need parental consent; consent forms are kept for two years confidentially. 
Idaho  Minors 14-18 can be tattooed, but it requires consent in the presence of the tattoo artist 
Illinois  Minors need parental consent; minors can only be tattooed by a physician 
Indiana  Minors need guardian present and written consent to be tattooed 
Iowa  Minors are prohibited from being tattooed unless they are married 
Kansas  Minors need written parental consent 
Kentucky  Minors need parental consent 
Louisiana  Minors need parental consent 
Maine  Tattooing a minor is illegal 
Maryland  Limited laws 
Massachusetts  Minors can only be tattooed by a licensed physician 
Michigan  Minors need parental consent 
Minnesota  Minors need parental consent 
Mississippi  Tattoos are prohibited on minors 
Missouri  Minors need parental consent, and parents must be present 
Montana  Minors need parental consent 
Nebraska  Minors need written parental consent 
Nevada  Tattooing isn’t regulated by the state except in Clark County (Las Vegas) 
New Hampshire  Minors need a parent present and written consent  
New Jersey  Minors need parental consent 
New Mexico  Licensing requirements must be met 
New York  Tattooing minors is prohibited, punishable with a class B misdemeanor 
North Carolina  Tattooing minors is prohibited 
North Dakota  Parental consent and presence required to tattoo a minor 
Ohio  Parental consent and presence required to tattoo a minor 
Oklahoma  Licensure is required by the State Department of Public Health for tattoo artists 
Oregon  Licensing is required 
Pennsylvania  Parental consent and presence required to tattoo a minor 
Rhode Island  Sterilization and sanitation requirements must be met 
South Carolina  Tattoos are prohibited for those under 21. Parental consent required if over 18. 
South Dakota  Signed parental consent to tattoo a minor 
Tennessee  Minors 16 and up can be tattooed with written parental consent 
Texas  Tattooing minors is prohibited UNLESS to cover an existing obscene or offensive tattoo. Parental consent is required 
Utah  Tattoos on minors require written parental consent 
Vermont  Parental consent required to tattoo a minor 
Virginia  Tattooing a minor requires consent unless done by a physician 
Washington  Tattooing a minor is illegal and prohibited 
West Virginia  Minors require written consent 
Wisconsin  Only physicians can tattoo minors 
Wyoming  Minors need parental consent and to be present at the time of tattooing. Age must be verified with ID. 

If you are unsure about tattoo laws in California, let us know and we will help you solve all the questions you might have.

Can a 13 Year Old Get a Tattoo?

Getting a tattoo at 13 years old is not common, nor is it easy.

Many states require that a minor be tattooed by a licensed physician, or at least in the presence of one.

A 13 year old can get a tattoo legally in 22 states (listed above) with written parental consent. In addition to signing a consent form, their parent or guardian must also be present while they are being tattooed.

This is for the safety of the minor and the tattoo artist. 

However, just because a state law permits it, doesn’t mean a tattoo artist will agree to tattooing a 13 year old.

Most tattoo artists will turn away anyone under the age of 15, regardless of consent.

In many states it is a crime to tattoo a minor, even with parental consent.

Tattooing is permanent, and many believe minors are not old enough to make properly informed decisions.

 

Tattooing Laws in Canada, Australia, United Kingdom

Canada

As a country, Canada does not have a nation-wide minimum age for getting tattooed. Instead, they left that decision up to the individual provinces.

These are some of the tattooing laws in Canada’s largest provinces: 

– Ontario:

Under 18 requires written parental consent.

– Quebec:

No province-wide minimum, however, most shops have a minimum of 17-18 years of age.

– Nova Scotia:

While there are strict safety and sanitation standards for tattooing, Nova Scotia does not have a minimum age. Instead, the tattoo shops set the minimum.

– Alberta:

There is a guideline recommending a minimum age of 18, but no law.

– British Columbia:

Ministry of Health recommends tattoo shops obtain parental consent for those under the age of 19, but this is not a law.

– Saskatchewan:

No age minimum, but it is recommended shops not tattoo anyone under 18. 

Keep in mind shops can enforce an age minimum of their own, even if there is not an official law for it.

There may also be city ordinances set in place that require an age minimum, in addition to the province.  

Australia

In most of Australia and Tasmania, you must be 18 or older to get a tattoo.

Many times shops will ask for an ID and verify your age if you look younger than 18. It is illegal to tattoo a minor, even if they have parental consent. However, in Western Australia, it is legal to get a tattoo if you are 16 or older with written parental consent.

Nowhere in Australia can a minor under the age of 16 be tattooed, even with a guardian’s consent. 

United Kingdom

 

The UK prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to be tattooed, or to have a tattoo.

Anyone who tattoos a minor can be prosecuted and fined. As a result, many tattoo shops require age verification for anyone who looks younger than 18. This also means tattooing a minor at home is legally punishable. 

The UK is one of the only E.U. countries that prohibit anyone under 18 to get tattooed, regardless of parental consent.

Other Countries

  • Austria, Germany, and Denmark also have an age minimum of 18, but with some exceptions.
  • Countries like Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Hungary have no age restrictions
  • Spain allows minors as young as 14 to be tattooed with parent consent.
  • France has an age minimum of 16.

What States Can You Get a Tattoo at 14?

Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor, and tattooing minors is strictly regulated.

There are at least 24 states that allow a 14 year old to be tattooed legally.

In all cases it requires parental consent, the parent or guardian to be present during the tattooing, and in some cases a physician to either do the tattoo or be present. 

One exception is if a 14 year old is married in the state of Iowa, they are legally allowed to get a tattoo without parental consent.

This, of course, means they must have consent to get married in the first place.  

Getting a tattoo as a minor is not advised, since this can lead to medical complications and regret.

In most states if a tattoo is found on a minor as young as 14, authorities will investigate and could prosecute whoever did the tattoo.

Are Hand and Neck Tattoos Illegal on Minors?

There aren’t many laws that explicitly restrict where a minor can get tattooed, however individual tattoo shops do limit where they will tattoo on minors.

Most shops will not tattoo on a minor’s hands, fingers, or neck.

These restrictions are designed to protect the minor, their parents, and the tattoo artist and shop from any legal or medical repercussions. 

Tattoo neck and face 

In some states it is not allowed for anyone to get a tattoo on the face.

For example, in Georgia it is illegal to get a tattoo within one inch of your eyes. You also cannot get offensive or hateful images tattooed, and most artists will refuse to do those kinds of designs.

Tattooing on minors in Texas is prohibited except to cover existing obscene or hateful images.

Summary

Trying to keep up with all the state and local regulations of tattooing on minors can be tricky.

The safest bet is to wait until you’re 18 to start getting inked, but if you just can’t wait, there are many ways to still get one with parental consent.

Regulations are for your safety and well-being, as well as that of the tattoo artist and the shop.  

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