How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Tattoo by State?

Most states have minimum age requirements that state you must be at least 18 years old to get a tattoo. Minors can get piercings with if they bring a parent or legal guardian to the appointment with them to sign consent form. Some tattoo shops may limit the type of piercings offered to minors. Shops will be fine doing basic work such as an ear piercing and nose piercing. However, other body modification requests such as tongue rings and navel piercings may get denied even with consent of a parent.

Each state differs in what they require of minors to get tattoos or piercings, and even if minors with tattoos or piercings are socially accepted, you should educate yourself on all the legal, health, and social factors before getting them.

Thought it may seem unfair at the time, these laws have been put into place for good reasons. Typically, it is not a good idea to get your first tattoo as a minor. Most people who get a tattoo at a very young age regret it as they get older. If you are dead set on getting a tattoo as a minor, I highly suggest getting small tattoos rather than something that is very large.

Can Parents Sign Consent For Minors To Get A Tattoo?

Yes, as a minor there are some states you can get tattoos or piercings if you can get a parent’s consent to authorize it.

Each state has developed its own laws and regulations over the years (See below for a list of laws by state), and there are some states where a minor can go to get a tattoo or piercing legally if their parent or guardian signs a written document giving a minor their consent to do so.

States like Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia will allow you to get a tattoo as a minor if you have written parent or guardian consent.

Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New York, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont will also accept written consent by a parent or guardian for a minor wanting a piercing.

There are a few states, however, that as a minor require you to explicitly have notarized written consent from your parent or guardian to get tattoos or piercings, meaning your parent or guardian has to be with you at the time they sign a form giving their written consent.

In Florida and Kentucky, if you’re a minor you have to have notarized written consent from your guardian to get tattoos, but in Florida, Kentucky, and Georgia you’ll have to get notarized consent to get piercings as a minor.

While there are some states that require written consent, others require a little more than a signed document from a parent or guardian to legally authorize their minor wanting to get a tattoo or piercing.

A few states, such as Arizona, Louisiana, Virginia, and Wyoming, require you to have a parent or guardian present the whole process if you’re a minor and wanted to get a tattoo.

To get piercings as a minor in Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wyoming, you’ll also need to have a parent or guardian be present the entire time with you.

Even if you are able to get consent from a parent, I recommend taking your birth certificate and any other valid ID with you to the tattoo parlor so you can prove your age. It’s better to be over prepared rather than getting to the shop and getting turned away.

Can Babies Get Tattoos or Piercings By Their Parents?

Yes, parents can give their baby tattoos or piercings if they have a medical or dental reason.

For certain medical reasons, such as radiation therapy or being able to tell which twin needs their medicine, babies can get tattoos by their parents.

When parents tattoo their babies because they have a medical reason to do so, they are usually required to have the procedure done by a professional, such as an osteopath or physician that’s licensed to perform tattoos.

Outside of this, most people in society usually feel uneasy about tattooing a baby. This kind of reaction isn’t as likely to happen when concerning piercing a baby’s ears, however.

Most people view piercings as potentially less harmful or to possibly leave less permanent damage in comparison to tattoos, so a baby having pierced ears is more socially acceptable. This view is reflected in many state laws that have fewer legal regulations on minors getting piercings when compared to the laws that regulate tattoos for minors.

Because of this social norm, many parents who want to pierce their baby’s ears don’t feel they need a medical reason to do so. Having pierced ears is so socially common that most people wouldn’t consider anything wrong with a baby having their ears pierced.

But though piercing a baby’s ears may be more socially accepted than tattoos, there aren’t many reasons medically to pierce a baby’s ears.

In fact, parents are advised by medical professionals to learn of the potential harm that can be done to their baby if they want to pierce their baby’s ears.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a baby be at least 2 months old to pierce their ears so their body can better react to infection. At this age, babies also have a hard time localizing pain, which can make the piercing somewhat easier on them if piercing their ears is something you really want to do.

Once a baby is around 5 or 6 months though, they’ll be able to localize pain and can make the process of piercing their ears more difficult.

Although the AAP also recommends parents allow their children to make their own decisions about their body, they also explain that kids older than 6 months might fear the pain of having their ears pierced, which should be something parents consider when they decide what age they want to pierce their baby’s ears.

Aside from factors like infection, the needles or equipment you use to pierce your baby’s ears should also be taken into account. To prevent possible issues that come with unsterilized needles, make sure you have your baby’s ears pierced by someone you trust.

What Could Happen If You Misrepresent Your Age To Get A Tattoo?

Besides authorities possibly taking legal action against your family, a parlor or person can be criminally charged, fined, and/or spend time in jail if you lie or misrepresent your age to get a tattoo.

Sometimes if authorities find out that you lied about your age to get a tattoo, they’ll take legal action against the parlor or person that you got your tattoo from. In some states, this could mean getting charged with a misdemeanor, getting fined hundreds of dollars, and/or even spending time in jail for each offense.

Authorities can also revoke the license of the person or parlor who tattoos minors without legal authorization, which negatively affects their business.

Aside from the person or parlor facing legal issues if they perform a tattoo on a misrepresented minor, authorities can also take pervasive action against your family if you misrepresent your age or don’t go through the proper legal channels to get a tattoo.

In Florida, a grandfather lost custody of his 10-year-old grandson because they had a family tradition of getting their initials tattooed on their right leg at a young age.

Even if authorities don’t take action against you for misrepresenting your age to get a tattoo, you could still potentially face backlash from society.

As many cultures around the world view people who have tattoos before a certain age as inappropriate, social norms have driven most people to naturally not want a tattoo before a certain stage in their life.

If you’re at a young age and get a tattoo, this could drive people in society to view you as someone who doesn’t follow along socially and shame you as an outsider of the group.

Most of the reasons why people in society view young people with tattoos as socially unacceptable are because they don’t feel minors before a certain age are mentally ready to have a tattoo. Society’s reaction to you being a minor with a tattoo could differ however if people view you as someone who is at an appropriate mental age is to have a tattoo.

If you’ve carefully considered all the things you should before you get a tattoo as a minor, your actions may not be viewed as completely unacceptable. Actions like lying or misrepresenting your age to get a tattoo though may be viewed with an opposite reaction, especially legally.

As a parent or guardian who’s considering a tattoo or piercing for their baby or minor, be sure to educate yourself on the health, legal, and social factors involved before you make decisions.

The laws of legally acquiring a tattoo or piercing differ in each state, so if you’re unsure about the regulations or laws that a licensed person or parlor may have in your state, contact them and ask so you’ll know what may be legally required of you beforehand.

Laws by each state in the United States

  • Alabama
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Alaska
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Arizona
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Arkansas
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • California
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Colorado
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Connecticut
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Delaware
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Florida
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Georgia
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Hawaii
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Varies based on location of piercing.
  • Idaho
    • Tattoos – Prohibited for anyone under the age of 14. Parental consent can be given for anyone 14-18 years old.
    • Body Piercings – Prohibited under the age of 14. Consent needed for ages 14-18 years of age.
  • Illinois
    • Tattoos – Prohibited for all minors unless the work is completed by a physician.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Indiana
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Iowa
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – No laws are in existence.
  • Kansas
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Kentucky
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Louisiana
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Maine
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Maryland
    • Tattoos – No laws appear to be in existence.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Massachusetts
    • Tattoos – No laws are in existence.
    • Body Piercings – No laws are in existence.
  • Michigan
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Minnesota
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Mississippi
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Prohibited for all minors.
  • Missouri
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Montana
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Nebraska
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Nevada
    • Tattoos – No laws exist at the state level. Some locals may have municipal laws in existence.
    • Body Piercings – No laws in existence.
  • New Hampshire
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • New Jersey
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • New Mexico
    • Tattoos – No laws are known to exist.
    • Body Piercings – No state laws, but local laws could require parents consent.
  • New York
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • North Carolina
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • North Dakota
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Ohio
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Oklahoma
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Oregon
    • Tattoos – No laws are known to exist.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Pennsylvania
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Rhode Island
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • South Carolina
    • Tattoos – Prohibited for anyone under 18. Parental consent required for anyone 18-21 years old.
    • Body Piercings – Prohibited for all minors.
  • South Dakota
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – No laws in existence.
  • Tennessee
    • Tattoos – Prohibited for anyone under 16. Parental consent required for anyone 16-18 years old.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Texas
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Utah
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Vermont
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – No laws are in existence.
  • Virginia
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
  • Washington
    • Tattoos – Prohibited even with parental consent for under-aged individuals.
    • Body Piercings – No laws in existence.
  • West Virginia
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – No laws in existence.
  • Wisconsin
    • Tattoos – Prohibited unless the work is done by a physician.
    • Body Piercings – Not allowed under the age of 16. Must have consent and parent present for ages of 16-17.
  • Wyoming
    • Tattoos – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.
    • Body Piercings – Parental consent is required for anyone under 18 years of age. Parent must be present.

Age Limit Laws in Other Countries

  • Canada
    • Tattoos – Must have parents consent if under the age of 16. No parental consent needed if over the age of 16.
    • Body Piercings – Must have parents consent if under the age of 16. No parental consent needed if over the age of 16.
  • England
    • Tattoos – Prohibited for anyone under the age of 18.
    • Body Piercings – No laws exist.
  • Australia
    • Tattoos – Prohibited under the age of 16. Parental consent is required for anyone between 16 & 18 years of age.
    • Body Piercings – Minimum age varies between 16 and 18 years of age depending on the area of the country.
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