How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Tattoo? List of States & Regulations

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Are you eager to get your first tattoo, but unsure about the minimum age requirement? Remember, getting a tattoo is a permanent decision, so it’s important to take your time and make the right choice.

It’s essential to ensure that you get it done legally, particularly if you’re under 18 years old.

This is a commonly asked question, so don’t worry – you’re not alone!

Curious about how old do you have to be to get a tattoo? In the United States, the minimum age across all states is 18. In the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, the legal age is also 18. However, in some states, you may be able to get a tattoo under the age of 18 with your parent’s permission – this varies from state to state.

To find out the legal age requirement for getting a tattoo in your state, refer to this guide:

small tattoos on chest

What is the Youngest Age You Can Get a Tattoo?

In the United States, the legal age for getting a tattoo is 18 years old. At this age, you won’t need your parents’ permission, additional consent forms, or have to worry about breaking any state laws.

However, each state has its own laws regarding body art and modifications for minors, and there may be additional local laws to consider.

While there is no official age limit for getting a tattoo, 38 states do allow minors to get tattooed with informed parental consent or with the parent being present.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that a baby can get a tattoo – there are still age and safety restrictions in place.

For safety and legal reasons, many tattoo artists won’t work on anyone under the age of 15 or 16.

What is the reason behind the government’s concern regarding the age at which a person gets a tattoo?

tattoo artist working on leg

Reasons Behind Tattoo Age Restrictions

There are three main reasons for the age restrictions and regulations on tattoos:

  1. Tattooing is a medical procedure. The first reason for age restrictions is that tattooing is a medical procedure, and as such, it must meet minimum safety standards. Getting a tattoo comes with certain risks, especially for minors. If a shop’s equipment is not properly sterilized and up to standards, viruses, infections, and bacteria can easily spread.
  2. Permanent Decision. Getting a tattoo is a permanent decision that can have lifelong consequences. The government wants to make sure that minors don’t make hasty or uninformed decisions that they may later regret.
  3. Old-fashioned mentality. Many legislators are from older, more conservative generations and view tattoos unfavorably. Consequently, they use their political power to make it harder for tattoo shops to operate.

Oklahoma only legalized tattooing in 2006, making it the last state to do so.

tattoo on thigh

List of States and their Regulations of Tattooing Minors

In the United States, the minimum age requirement for getting a tattoo is 18. If you’re 18 or older, you don’t need your parents’ consent to get a tattoo.

However, if you’re under 18, you’re considered a minor, and getting a tattoo depends on the regulations of the state you’re in. So, before you start planning your tattoo, make sure to check the regulations of the state where you plan on getting tattooed:

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. 

Laws regarding tattooing in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

– Canada

In Canada, the minimum age requirement for getting a tattoo is not set nationally, but is instead determined by individual provinces. Here are some of the tattooing laws in Canada’s largest provinces:

  • Ontario: Minors under 18 need written consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Quebec: While there is no province-wide minimum age, most shops set a minimum of 17-18 years old.
  • Nova Scotia: Although there are strict safety and sanitation standards for tattooing, there is no minimum age requirement set by the province. Instead, individual shops set their own minimum age requirements.
  • Alberta: While there is a guideline recommending a minimum age of 18, there is no law in place.
  • British Columbia: The Ministry of Health recommends that tattoo shops obtain parental consent for those under 19 years old, but it is not a law.
  • Saskatchewan: Although there is no official minimum age requirement, it is recommended that shops do not tattoo anyone under 18 years old.

It’s worth noting that even if there is no official law for it, shops can still enforce their own age minimum. Additionally, some cities may have their own age requirements in addition to the province.

– Australia

In Australia and Tasmania, you need to be at least 18 years old to get a tattoo. Most tattoo shops will ask for identification to verify your age, especially if you look younger than 18. Generally, it is against the law to tattoo a minor, even with parental consent.

In Western Australia, it is legal to get a tattoo at 16 years old or older with written parental consent.

Regardless of consent, no one under 16 years old can get a tattoo anywhere in Australia.

– United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18, and anyone caught tattooing a minor can be prosecuted and fined. As a result, many tattoo shops require age verification for anyone who appears to be under 18 years old. It is also illegal to tattoo a minor at home.

The UK is one of the few european countries that prohibits tattooing minors, even with parental consent.

– Other European Countries

Other countries have different age requirements for tattooing.

  • Austria, Germany, and Denmark also have a minimum age of 18, but with some exceptions.
  • Countries like Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Hungary have no age restrictions at all.
  • Spain allows minors as young as 14 to be tattooed with parental consent.
  • France has a minimum age requirement of 16.
stencil transfer tattoo artist

Can a 13 Year Old Get a Tattoo?

It’s not common for a 13 year old to get a tattoo, and it’s not easy either.

In many states, getting a tattoo as a minor requires a licensed physician to be present or at least available during the procedure.

In 22 states, a 13 year old can legally get a tattoo with written parental consent.

This consent form must be signed by the parent or guardian and they must be present during the tattooing process. This is to ensure the safety of the minor and the tattoo artist.

But just because it’s legal in some states doesn’t mean a tattoo artist will agree to it. Most tattoo artists will refuse to tattoo anyone under the age of 15, even with parental consent.

In fact, in some states, tattooing a minor is a crime, even with parental consent. Many people believe that minors are not old enough to make informed decisions about something as permanent as a tattoo.

tattoo artist tattooing

What States Can You Get a Tattoo at 14?

Tattooing minors is highly regulated, and anyone under 18 is considered a minor.

However, in at least 24 states, a 14 year old can legally get a tattoo with parental consent. The parent or guardian must also be present during the tattooing process, and in some cases, a physician must perform or oversee the procedure.

There is one exception in the state of Iowa, where a 14 year old can get a tattoo without parental consent if they are legally married. But of course, they must have consent to get married first.

While it is legal in some states, getting a tattoo as a minor is not recommended, as it can lead to medical complications and regret. In fact, in most states, anyone who tattoos a minor as young as 14 can be investigated and prosecuted by authorities.

Are Hand and Neck Tattoos Illegal on Minors?

While there are not many laws that explicitly limit where a minor can get a tattoo, most tattoo shops have their own restrictions in place.

Typically, tattoo shops will not tattoo a minor’s hands, fingers, or neck, as these areas are more sensitive and require more care during the healing process. These restrictions are in place to protect the minor, their parents, and the tattoo artist and shop from any legal or medical issues that could arise.
For more details on “job stoppers”, see our article on hand and finger tattoos.

how old do you have to be to get a tattoo on neck

Moreover, in certain states, facial tattoos are not allowed. For example, in Georgia, it is illegal to get a tattoo within one inch of your eyes.

Offensive or hateful images are prohibited, and most tattoo artists will not do those kinds of designs.

In Texas, tattooing minors is generally prohibited, except to cover up existing obscene or hateful images.

Bottom Line

Navigating the state and local regulations of tattooing minors can be challenging, but it’s essential to ensure your safety and well-being.

While it’s best to wait until you’re 18 to get a tattoo, there are ways to get one with parental consent if you just can’t wait.

These regulations are in place to protect not only you but also the tattoo artist and the shop. So it’s important to follow them and ensure that you’re getting inked in a safe and regulated environment.


Can you get a tattoo at 16?

As of 2021, at least 35 states allow minors to get tattoos with parental consent. However, it’s important to note that each state has its own specific regulations and restrictions regarding tattoos, so it’s always a good idea to check your local laws and regulations before getting a tattoo.

Can a 14 year old get a tattoo with parental consent?

In the United States, at least 24 states allow 14-year-olds to get tattoos legally with parental consent. However, the parent or legal guardian must be present during the tattooing process, and in some cases, a physician must either perform the tattoo or be present.

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