Can My Teen Get a Body Piercing or Tattoo Without Me?

State Laws Vary and Most Protect Teens from Making Bad Decisions

A sign advertising piercing and tattoo services.
A sign advertising piercing and tattoo services.. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Parents of teens who want piercings want to know: What are the legal age limits to be able to get a tattoo or body piercing?

It is a fair question because your teen wants a tattoo or piercing and you may not be comfortable with it. The good news is that in most states, minors need to get your permission to get body art though this is not always the case.

Tattoo and Body Piercing Laws

The age limits for piercings and tattoos are made by state laws.

Tattoos are regulated more than body piercing and many states ban tattoos completely on minors because they are permanent and teenagers do not yet have the best judgment.

In many states, it is illegal for a body art, piercing, or tattoo artist to perform their work on a minor child (under 18) without the approval of their parents. Quite often, there is a formal document that needs to be signed. In some states, the guardian must also be present.

It should be noted that body art laws are updated regularly and may have changed since this list was last updated. Tattoo artists and body piercers are required to carry a license with the state they practice in and are regulated by the health department agency.

If tattooists or body piercers break the law, they face a fine and could potentially lose their license. They are professionals and the vast majority take the regulations very seriously.

For the latest regulations, check with your state's health department.

The National Conference of State Legislatures website also has a list of body art laws that is updated regularly.

Alabama

  • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

Alaska

  • Minors may not receive tattoos.
  • Written parental permission is required for body piercing.

    Arizona

    • A minor needs the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Arkansas

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    California

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.
    • The presence or notarized consent of a parent or legal guardian is required to receive a piercing other than an ear piercing.

    Colorado

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Connecticut

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a tattoo.

    Delaware

    • Minors need the written consent from a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Florida

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Georgia

    • Tattooing of a minor must be done by a licensed osteopath or technician acting under the direct supervision of a licensed physician or osteopath.
    • Piercing needs the written informed consent from a parent or legal guardian.

    Hawaii

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a tattoo.
    • No current age limits on piercings.

    Idaho

    • No tattooing, branding or body piercing of minors under the age of 14.
    • Minors aged 14-18 need the written consent and the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Illinois

    • Minors may not be at a tattoo shop without a parent or legal guardian. Only medically licensed professionals may tattoo a minor.
    • Minors need the written informed consent from a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing.

    Indiana

    • Minors need the written consent and the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Iowa

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.
    • No laws on body piercing.

    Kansas

    • Minors need the written consent and presence of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Kentucky

    • Minors need the written notarized consent from parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Louisiana

    • Minors need the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Maine

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.
    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing.

    Maryland

    • No laws currently on age limits for tattoos or body piercing.
    • Tattooing is prohibited in salons.

    Massachusetts

    • No laws currently on age limits for tattoos or body piercing.
    • Tattooing must be performed by a physician.

    Michigan

    • Minors need the written informed consent from parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing.
    • Consent must be given in person.

    Minnesota

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.
    • A minor needs witnessed written consent from parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing.

    Mississippi

    • It is illegal to tattoo or body pierce a minor.
    • Does not include ear lobes.

    Missouri

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.
    • The consent must be given in person.

    Montana

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.
    • The consent must be given in person.

    Nebraska

    • A minor needs written consent and the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Nevada

    • No laws currently on age limits for tattoos or body piercing.
    • The state does not regulate tattoo or piercing shops.

    New Hampshire

    • Minors need the written consent and presence of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing.

    New Jersey

    • No laws currently on age limits for tattoos or body piercing.

    New Mexico

    • No laws currently on age limits for tattoos or body piercing.

    New York

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.

    North Carolina

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.
    • Minors need the expressed consent of the parent or legal guardian to receive a body piercing other than the ears.

    North Dakota

    • Minors need the written consent and presence of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Ohio

    • Minors need the written consent and presence of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Oklahoma

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.
    • A minor needs the presence and written consent of the parent or legal guardian to receive a body piercing.

    Oregon

    • No laws currently on age limits for tattoos or body piercing.

    Pennsylvania

    • Minors need the written consent and presence of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Rhode Island

    • Minors need the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    South Carolina

    • Minors under the age of 18 may not get a tattoo. Young adults ages 18-21 may legally get a tattoo with written parental permission.
    • It is illegal to perform body piercings on minors.

    South Dakota

    • Minors need the written consent from a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.
    • Individual municipalities may have further regulations.

    Tennessee

    • A minor older than 16-years-old may get a tattoo to cover an existing tattoo, requires their parent to be present and have ID.
    • Minors need the written consent and the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing.

    Texas

    • Minors need the written consent and the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a tattoo.
    • Only permissible if it is to cover 'an obscene or offensive' tattoo and the parent believes it 'in the best interest.'
    • An adult needs proof of parentage or guardianship.

    Utah

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Vermont

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Virginia

    • Minors need the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo - excludes ear piercing.

    Washington

    • It is illegal to tattoo a minor.
    • No laws currently on age limits for body piercing.

    West Virginia

    • Minors need the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to receive a tattoo.
    • No laws currently on age limits for body piercing.

    Wisconsin

    • Minors may not be at a tattoo shop without a parent or legal guardian.
    • Only medically licensed professionals may tattoo a minor.
    • No current laws on age limits for body piercing.

    Wyoming

    • Minors need the presence of the parent or legal guardian to receive a piercing or tattoo.

    Source:

    National Conference of State Legislatures, 2016.

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