What Age Do You Have To Be To Get A Tattoo? (Rules & Laws)

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 17, 2019
    Last Updated: October 27, 2021

Don’t scupper your dreams of getting a tattoo by breaking the law. We’ve seen many kids get tattoos too young, only to regret it in later years. Deciding to get a tattoo isn’t something you should rush out to do at too much of a young age, since for many, a tattoo is for life.

The legal age for getting a tattoo in the United States is:

  • 18 years old
  • In some circumstances, 16 years old with the consent of a parent or guardian

The legal age for getting a tattoo in the United Kingdom is:

  • 18 years old

The legal age for getting a tattoo in Canada is:

  • 18 years old

The legal age for getting a tattoo in Australia is:

  • 18 years old

The rest of this article will focus on the laws surrounding getting a tattoo in the United States.

The Role of the Government

With the prevalence of social media, tattoos are becoming increasingly popular. Whether it’s for a bit of fun or to make a statement, more and more people are considering getting artwork on their bodies.

Even so, it’s a permanent decision that carries potential health risks. This means it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure anyone who gets a tattoo understands the consequences.

The Law

No federal law exists in the United States regarding the age someone can get a tattoo. There are, however, statutory laws that regulate who can get a tattoo. A person is required to be at least 18 years old before they can get a tattoo. 

If you’re under 18 years old and want a tattoo, don’t despair. Most states will allow you to get a tattoo if you have the consent of a parent or guardian. Sometimes this can just be written consent. In other cases, a parent or guardian must be present when the procedure takes place.

Keep in mind that some states have a minimum age requirement, even with parental consent. You’ll usually have to be at least 16 years old, but this can vary. Others prohibit anyone under the age of 18 getting a tattoo, regardless of parental consent.

What Happens If Someone Under 18 Gets a Tattoo?

If a person misrepresents their age to get a tattoo, they face being prosecuted by the state. This can range anywhere from fines to community service. 

In many cases, if a tattoo artist is found to have tattooed a minor, they’ll also face a penalty. Depending on the state, this can be a fine of up to $5,000. It can also mean a prison sentence of up to a year.

Why Is There an Age Requirement?

The age requirement on tattoos is based upon the fact that a person isn’t legally classed as an adult until the age of 18. The decision to get a tattoo isn’t something to take lightly. You have to be fully prepared and aware of your choice as there are future considerations to take into account.

The Decision

Getting a tattoo is an involved process. This means it’s not as simple as just turning up to an appointment. You have to know what you want and research accordingly to show the artist. Larger tattoos will mean more than one visit to the tattoo parlor. Did you know some tattoos can take years to complete?


Properly caring for a tattoo takes time, and no small amount of patience. There’ll be strict instructions to follow, which should be incorporated into your daily routine. Proper aftercare is crucial to avoid complications in the future. 


It’s important to be aware that there’s going to be things you can’t do for a while after getting a tattoo. For example, it’s best to wait for approximately a month before going swimming. This means you have to plan carefully when to get a tattoo. It’s not a good idea to get a tattoo done days before jetting off on a summer vacation. 


Were you ever crazy about a celebrity when you were younger, and now you can hardly even remember what they look like? It’s natural for our interests and likes to change as we mature and become adults. This means that waiting until you’re the right age hopefully means you’ll get something you’ll be happy with for a long time. 


Some people think that it’s okay to get a tattoo because it’s easy to get it removed if they change their mind. Unfortunately, it’s not really that simple. Tattoo removal is a difficult procedure. It also comes with a hefty price tag. 

Job Prospects

Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s a fact that some employers have strict regulations when it comes to tattoos. They’ll usually not allow tattoos to be visible on certain parts of your body. Some of these jobs are: 

  • Police officer
  • Teacher
  • Healthcare professional
  • Military personnel
  • Airline pilot

Getting a tattoo before you’ve fully figured out what career you want could affect your future job prospects. 


Tattoos aren’t cheap. Depending on the size and intricacy of the design, you could be looking at a price tag of up to a few thousand dollars. How is a minor going to pay for that? Even if a 15-year-old does have the funds, we’re sure the parents would prefer the money was invested for the future if their child asks for a tattoo.

The Long Arm of the Law

There are strict age requirements when it comes to getting a tattoo. You’re usually required to be 18 or over; otherwise, you’ll need the consent of a parent or guardian. Failure to abide by these laws can result in penalties for yourself and even for the artist who did your tattoo. Not to mention, your parents will also likely be very upset!

Waiting can be frustrating, but try and see it as an opportunity to think about what you want. A tattoo is a big decision. These laws are there to protect you from doing something you might regret.

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​

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