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Written by Kieran Proctor

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Tattoo?

Tattoo

Updated

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Tattoo?

In recent years, the popularity of tattoos has skyrocketed, becoming a common form of self-expression for many. This surge in popularity has raised several questions, especially concerning the legal age to get a tattoo. If you’ve been contemplating the idea of getting a tattoo, it’s essential to understand the age requirements.

This comprehensive guide will help you understand the legal age requirements for getting a tattoo in the different states of the USA. While also taking a look at the role of parental consent and the importance of choosing a legal and reliable tattoo artist.

The legal age for getting a tattoo greatly depends on the law of the specific state or country. Generally, in most locations, you must meet a minimum age requirement to legally get a tattoo.

In the United States, the law considers you an adult at 18 years old. At this age, you can legally get a tattoo without the need for anyone’s consent. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some states allow individuals under the age of 18 to get a tattoo under certain conditions.

Some states, including Alaska, Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Maine, Mississippi, New York, Rhode Island, North Carolina and South Carolina, prohibit tattooing minors under any circumstances. However, most other states permit minors to get tattoos if they obtain parental consent. In some cases, the law may mandate the parent or guardian’s presence during the tattooing process.

The consent process has safety measures in place to deter forgery. A parent or guardian must provide detailed written consent, specifying the tattoo design and its location on the body. Upon completion, the consent document must be notarized to confirm its validity.

However, it’s worth noting that some tattoo artists may refuse to tattoo minors under the age of 15, even with legal consent. The reasons for this refusal may include the permanency of tattoos, the tedious post-tattooing process and the possibility of the tattoo stretching or deforming as the minor grows.

Age Requirements For Tattooing In Different States

Here is a breakdown of the age requirements for getting a tattoo in different states in the United States. Please note that states do periodically update their legislation and you should double check your particular states requirements before approaching your tattooist.

I would even suggest printing a copy of your states legal requirements if you’re a minor seeking to be tattooed with the consent of a parent or guardian. As most reputable tattooists will likely turn you down if you can’t prove you’ve done your homework. Or if it they don’t believe you’re making an informed choice.

StateLaw
AlabamaParent or guardian consent for minors
Alaska18
ArizonaParent or guardian presence for minors
Arkansas18
California18
ColoradoParent or guardian consent for minors
ConnecticutParent or guardian consent for minors
District of Columbia18
DelawareParent or guardian consent for minors
Florida16 – Parent or guardian consent or presence until 18 years old
Georgia18
HawaiiParent or guardian consent for minors
Idaho14 – Parent or guardian consent for minors until 18 years old
Illinois18
IndianaParent or guardian consent and presence for minors
Iowa18
KansasParent or guardian presence for minors
Kentucky16 – Parent or guardian consent for minors until 18 years old
LouisianaParent or guardian consent for minors
Maine18
Maryland18
Massachusetts18
MichiganParent or guardian consent for minors
Minnesota18
Mississippi18
MissouriParent or guardian consent for minors
MontanaParent or guardian in-person consent for minors
NebraskaParent or guardian consent for minors
Nevada14 – Parent or guardian consent and presence for minors
New Hampshire18
New JerseyParent or guardian consent for minors
New MexicoParent or guardian consent for minors
New York18
North Carolina18
North DakotaParent or guardian presence for minors
OhioParent or guardian consent for minors
OklahomaParent or guardian presence for minors
OregonParent or guardian consent for minors
PennsylvaniaParent or guardian consent for minors
Rhode Island18
South Carolina18
South DakotaParent or guardian consent for minors
TennesseeParent or guardian consent for minors
TexasParent or guardian consent for minors
UtahParent or guardian consent for minors
VermontParent or guardian consent for minors
VirginiaParent or guardian presence for minors
Washington18
West Virginia16 – Parent or guardian consent and presence for minors
Wisconsin18
WyomingParent or guardian presence for minors

Global Perspective: Age Requirements For Tattooing Around The World

The age requirements for tattooing vary greatly around the world. And tattoos can affect your future travel opportunities. Here are some interesting facts:

  • In Austria, Scotland, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, you’re considered an adult at 16.
  • In North Korea, you need approval from the Communist Party to get a tattoo.
  • In Cuba or China, you can’t get a religious or right-wing tattoo.
  • Tattoos featuring Nazi and fascist-related symbols are illegal in France and Germany.
  • In Japan, tattoos are often associated with the Yakuza, leading to the misconception that you’re part of the mafia.
  • Tattoos are considered illegal in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and are they are discouraged in Iran. In Pakistan and Malaysia, tattoos of Prophet Muhammad and Allah are illegal.
  • In most parts of Latin America like Argentina, Colombia, Cuba or Peru, the legal age to get a tattoo is 18 years old. Just like the USA.

If you’re underage and not legally allowed to get a tattoo, it’s advisable not to resort to an artist willing to break the law. The laws currently in place are there for good reasons, primarily for safety considerations.

Working with a ‘scratcher’ (unregulated tattoo artist) carries a high risk of infections and other health issues due to the use of unsanitary equipment. It also carries a high likelihood that you’ll regret the tattoo that you get. Because untrained and unregulated artists most often produce poor quality tattoos.

When you decide to get a tattoo, ensure you choose a reliable and legal tattoo artist. Do your research, check their websites, social media profiles and confirm that they use clean equipment. This includes disposable needles, clean surfaces and regulated inks that meet safety guidelines.

The Regret Factor
Unregulated and untrained artists produce works that you will regret. Just see this Reddit thread.

What You Should Know Before Getting A Tattoo

Before deciding to get a tattoo, there are several crucial factors to consider:

  1. Each U.S. state has regulating laws: There’s no federal law in the United States that sets a minimum age for getting a tattoo. Each state has its own rules.
  2. Consider your future profession: Some professions may not allow visible tattoos. These include teachers, airline pilots, police officers, military personnel, healthcare professionals, lawyers, receptionists and bank workers.
  3. Tattoos can be expensive: The cost of a tattoo includes not just the artist’s fee but also the artist’s tip and the aftercare products you will need to purchase after your tattoo.
  4. Think twice about getting a tattoo in honor of a first love: While it may seem romantic at the time, understand that relationships can change. Tattoo removal technologies exist, but they’re expensive and don’t guarantee a 100% result. And cheap tattoo removal creams are dangerous and don’t work at all.

Understanding The Need For Age Requirements In Tattooing

Age requirements for tattoos are established for several reasons:

  • Physical growth: If you get a tattoo at a young age, it could stretch and distort as you grow.
  • Preventing Impulsive Decisions: Tattoos are a lifelong commitment. Therefore, it’s crucial to take time to think about the design, it’s placement on your body and the implications of having a tattoo.
  • Ensuring Aftercare Compliance: Proper aftercare is essential to prevent complications such as infections, allergic reactions or blood poisoning.
  • Mental Preparedness: You need to be mentally prepared to live with a tattoo for the rest of your life.

Risks Of Getting A Tattoo At An Early Age

Getting a tattoo at an early age carries certain risks. Statistics show that about 46% of adults regret the tattoos they got when they were under 20 years old (I do too). This regret often stems from the impulsive nature of their decision. And it’s one of the main reasons why 78% of parents won’t consider letting their children get tattoos.

Misrepresenting your age to get a tattoo not only puts you at risk, but also the tattoo artist. Penalties can include fines or community service for you. And for the artist, they can face fines of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to one year.

Additionally, the desire for a tattoo may lead you to unlicensed artists offering cheaper services. This increases the risk of infections and diseases like hepatitis B and C, or HIV due to unsanitary equipment. Therefore, it’s always better to save more money and pay for a reliable and professional tattoo artist working in a reputable studio.

Key Takeaway

The legal age for getting a tattoo varies from state to state and country to country. In some places, minors can get a tattoo with the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

However, it’s important to consider the implications and potential risks of getting a tattoo at a young age. Always ensure you’re dealing with a legal and reliable tattoo artist to ensure your safety and the quality of the tattoo.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I get a tattoo at 16? In some states, like Florida or Kentucky, you can get a tattoo at 16. But you will need the physical presence or notarized written consent of a parent or legal guardian.
  2. How old do you have to be to get a tattoo in Alabama? In Alabama, the minimum age for a tattoo is not specified, but the informed consent of a parent or legal guardian is required.
  3. Is it bad to get a tattoo at 14? If you go to a licensed master who uses properly sanitized equipment, getting a tattoo at 14 is not necessarily bad. However, you’ll need parental consent if you’re under 18.
  4. Can I get a tattoo with a fake ID? Misrepresenting your age to get a tattoo is punishable by law. If caught, you could face a fine or community service. The tattoo artist could also face a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to one year.
  5. How can I get a tattoo without parental consent? To get a tattoo without parental consent, you need to be at least 18 years old. If you’re under 18, parental consent is required.
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Article Sources – Recommended Further Reading

Vagabond takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Tensions over teen tattoos
  2. Most parents are against teen tattoos
  3. Most Parents Say Tsk, Tsk to Tattoos for Their Teens
  4. Alabama Public Health Rules for tattoo and piercing facilities
  5. Florida Statutes
  6. Tattoo and Body Art (Kentucky)
  7. Tattoo Laws By State
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