There is no federal age limit for getting a tattoo in the United States, however, statutory laws require that you must be at least 18 years old before you can get a tattoo. A minor may obtain a tattoo with permission from their parents or guardians, but some states prohibit tattooing under a certain age regardless of parental consent.
What is the Youngest Age You Can Get a Tattoo?
You have to be 18 or older can get a tattoo without parental consent.
Several states allow minors to have tattoos if they have informed written parental consent or if their parents are present.
However, some states prohibit minors from getting tattoos even with parental consent, and many tattoo artists won’t tattoo anyone under the age of 15 or 16 even with the consent of their parents.
Watch this video where tattoo artists share their advice on how old they think you should be to get a tattoo:
How Old Do You Have To Be To Get Tattoos By State
States where minors need informed written parental consent:
- Alabama (Consent must be signed in the presence of the artist)
- Connecticut (plus a physician or RN must be present)
- Idaho (Consent must be given in the presence of the tattoo artist)
- Kentucky (Consent must be signed in the presence of the artist)
- Michigan (Consent must be signed in the presence of the artist)
- Missouri (Consent must be signed in the presence of the artist)
- Montana (Consent must be signed in the presence of the artist)
- New Jersey (16 or older)
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
States where parents must give consent and be present for tattooing minors:
- Kansas (16 or older)
- Louisiana (16 or older)
- Nevada (14 or older)
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
States where tattoos are prohibited or illegal on minors, even with parental consent:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Tennessee (Minors over 16 may be tattooed to cover up an existing tattoo)
- Texas (Minors may be tattooed to cover up an existing tattoo)
Can Parents Sign Consent For Minors To Get A Tattoo?
In many states, parents can give their minors written consent to get a tattoo. They might have to sign the consent form in the tattoo shop, and they may even need to be present during the procedure.
You may need to bring proof of identity for yourself and your parent or legal guardian who can provide proof of guardianship.
It’s always best to ask the tattoo artist or establishment what documents you will need to bring with you.
How To Give Consent
State laws require that consent forms be notarized to ensure that the legal guardians are actually signing them.
It’s best to contact the tattoo artist upfront to discuss what form of consent they will accept. Some will ask you to come to the tattoo parlor to sign the documents in their presence, while others might require you to stay for the whole procedure.
If you give written consent, you may need to document what you are consenting to. For example, you may need to indicate which tattoo your teen is allowed to get and where the tattoo will be done.
You can view and download an example of a minor consent form for a tattoo below:
Tattoo Age Limit Laws in Other Countries
Canada: You must be 18+ to get a tattoo in Canada. You can get a tattoo if you’re 16 or 17 years old, with written permission from your parental guardian.
UK: 18+. In the UK, tattoos are not allowed for anyone under 18, regardless of parental consent.
Australia: 18+. In some states, you can get a tattoo between the ages of 16 and 18 with parental permission.
Countries where tattoos are not allowed or seriously frowned upon include: Iran, Turkey, Sri Lanka, UAE, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, China, and Denmark (face, neck, head & hands).
What States Can You Get a Tattoo at 14?
You can only get a tattoo at 14 with parental consent in the following states:
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia & Wyoming.
Please note that written consent is needed from your parents or legal guardian, and in some states, parents must be present for tattooing minors. Both parent and minor must present a photo ID, and they may request that the consent form be notarized or signed in front of the tattoo artist.
The only exception is Iowa if you’re legally married.
Even if you do have parental consent, it’s not a great idea to get a tattoo so young. Not only might you regret the tattoo you get at this age, but your body is also still growing, so your tattoo may stretch with your skin as you grow.
It’s best to wait until you’re old enough to understand that a tattoo is for life, and removing it is a very painful and expensive procedure.
Watch this video on tips for teens who want to get a tattoo and why you should consider waiting until you’re older:
In Which States Can You Get A Tattoo At 16?
There are no states where you can get a tattoo at 16 without parental consent. With the exception of Iowa if you’re legally married.
You can only get a tattoo at 16 with parental consent in the following states:
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia & Wyoming.
Note that you will need written consent, and in some of these states, you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can provide proof of guardianship.
Apart from Henna tattoos, or stick-on tattoos that only last a few days, you can now also get temporary tattoos that last up to 1-2 weeks, gradually fading as your skin exfoliates.
The ink develops over 24-36hrs and darkens as it reacts with the proteins and collagen in your skin.
These Inkbox tattoos are also waterproof, so you can swim, shower, and swear with them without them rubbing off.
And if you’re not inspired by their choice of tattoos, you can create your own custom tattoo that is 100% original or purchase a Freehand Tattoo Marker and draw your own.
Inkbox temporary tattoos are a great alternative to permanent tattoos for teens. You get to experiment with different ideas and see what it looks and feels like. You can play around with different styles and also check out what it looks like on different areas of your body.
Are Hand and Neck Tattoos Illegal on Minors?
In some countries and states like Denmark and South Carolina, head, face, hand, and neck tattoos are illegal.
Even if it were legal, I doubt you’d find a reputable tattoo artist that will do a head, face, hand, or neck tattoo on a minor.
You probably wouldn’t get parental permission either, so this will have to wait until you’re 18 years old and legally allowed to make your own decision on whether or not a face tattoo is a good idea.
Remember that you will have to live with it forever and you might not be allowed a face tattoo in a future job that you might want.
Can You Book A Tattoo Before 18?
You should be able to make an appointment before turning 18, but you won’t be able to get the tattoo just yet.
Getting a tattoo is usually for life, so try not to be in a rush. Take your time to really think it through.
You can make several appointments with your tattoo artist to discuss the design and ensure the artwork is just right before having the actual tattoo done.
What Tattoos Are Illegal?
In some countries, you won’t be able to get certain tattoos, or you might have to cover them up.
These include religious icons (like a Buddha tattoo) in Thailand or any quotes or imagery from the Quran, Allah, or the Prophet Muhammad in Afghanistan, Malaysia, Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen.
Political or offensive tattoos can also get you into trouble in Cuba, China, Germany, and France.
Eye tattoos are also a bad idea, and in the US state of Georgia, you cannot tattoo within an inch of the eye socket.
Which Jobs Don’t Allow Tattoos?
Some professions require that you keep your tattoo covered at all times while at work.
These may include:
– airline pilot/air hostess
– police officers
– military personnel
– healthcare professionals
– receptionist/front office workers
– bank workers
A tattoo might not be a good idea if you plan on going into any of these professions.
Do Color Tattoos Hurt More?
The color of the ink doesn’t determine how painful it is.
Outlines are sometimes more painful and are usually done with black ink.
Colored ink is mostly used for shading, and some clients say that shading hurts significantly less than the outlines.
However, the bigger the tattoo and the more surface area that you want to be shaded, the more the tattoo will hurt in general.
How Long After I Get A Tattoo Can I Shower?
You shouldn’t get your tattoo wet for at least two weeks. If your tattoo has been professionally wrapped with a waterproof bandage, then you should be able to shower the next day.
Try not to soak the tattoo area, though, so avoid long hot baths or swimming.
You can use aftercare products to help heal and reduce the irritation of new tattoos.
Do Tattoos Grow With You?
Tattoos will stretch with your skin and can therefore change shape or move in position on your body. If your body is still growing, you gain or lose weight, or your muscles grow a lot more, then your tattoo will stretch along with the skin.
Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Work?
Numbing creams are used for all procedures that use needles, like micro-needling, botox injections, and tattoos.
Applying a good quality numbing cream about half an before the procedure will reduce the pain you feel while getting a tattoo.
Final Thoughts On Teen Tattoos
There are several reasons why 18 is the legal age to get a tattoo without parental consent.
Tattoos are expensive, mostly for life, and can be painful, so you shouldn’t be in a rush to get your first tattoo.
Take your time deciding what you really want, and save up enough money to use a great artist.
Do a lot of research online and talk to tattoo artists before deciding on getting a tattoo.
Remember always to choose a reputable artist that will give you great artwork and follow all the safety procedures necessary. You want to be able to enjoy your tattoo forever, not have it fade, and you definitely don’t want to risk infection.