Back 

Tattooing and Body Piercing

Tattoos and Body Piercings for Minors

NCSL Resources

NCSL Contact

Father and son with tattoosUpdated May 2013

The battle over whether or not teenagers may receive tattoos or body piercings is typically one fought between parents and children, but the same debate has entered state legislatures. Advocates of prohibiting minors from getting tattoos or body piercings want state laws to reflect parental rights and allow them to have the final word on minors altering their appearances in this way.

A number of states have laws prohibiting these practices on minors without written parental consent.  At least 45 states have laws prohibiting minors from getting tattoos. Thirty-eight states have laws that prohibit both body piercing and tattooing on minors without parental permission.  Many of the laws across the country establish financial penalties, prison time or both for violators.  Most of the laws define "violator" as the person who performed the tattoo or piercing.
 

State Laws on Tattooing and Body Piercing

 State

 Citation for tattooing a minor

 Citation for piercing a minor

 Provision

Alabama

The Code of Alabama 22-17A-2

The Code of Alabama 22-17A-2

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from performing a tattoo, brand or body piercing on a minor unless prior written informed consent is obtained from the minor's parent or legal guardian.

Alaska

Alaska Stat. §08.13.217 

Alaska Stat. § 08.13.217 

Tattooing-Establishes that it is unlawful to practice tattooing and permanent cosmetic coloring on a minor. Violators are guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from practicing body piercing on a minor without prior written approval from the minor’s parent or legal guardian and the presence of the parent or legal guardian during the body piercing procedure. Requires the individual who performs the body piercing to keep a copy of the written permission on file for at least three years. Violators are guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §13-3721

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §13-3721

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Establishes that it is unlawful to either tattoo or pierce anyone under age 18 without the physical presence of the parent or legal guardian.

Violators are guilty of a Class 6 felony. Allows anyone to avoid prosecution if he or she requested proof of identification and relied on the accuracy of the information contained therein.

Arkansas

 Ark. Stat. Ann. §5-27-228

 Ark. Stat. Ann. §5-27-228

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from doing "body art" (tattooing, piercing or branding) on a minor without the written consent and presence of one of the minor's parents, a guardian or a custodian.

Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, will be fined between $20 and $200.

California

 Cal. Penal Code §653

Cal. Penal Code §652

Tattooing-Establishes that it is a misdemeanor for any person to tattoo or offer to tattoo anyone under age 18.

Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from performing or offering to perform a piercing upon anyone under age 18 unless the piercing is performed in the presence of a parent or guardian or as directed and notarized by the minor's parent or guardian. Does not apply to emancipated minors and does not include pierces of the ear.

Colorado

Col. Rev. Stat. Ann. §25-4-2103

Col. Rev. Stat. Ann. §25-4-2103

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from performing a body art procedure on a minor unless the artist has received express consent from the minor's parent or guardian.

Failure to obtain permission before performing the procedures on a minor shall constitute a petty offense punishable by a fine of $250.

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. §19a-92a

Conn. Gen. Stat. §19a-92g

Tattooing-Establishes that it is illegal to tattoo an unemancipated minor under age 18 without the permission of the minor's parent or guardian.

Body Piercing-Requires written consent of the minor's parent in order to perform body piercing on an unemancipated minor under age 18.

Delaware

Del. Code Ann. Title 11, Ch 5 §1114(a)

Del. Code Ann. Title 11, Ch 5 §1114(a)

 

Tattooing and Body Piercing- It is illegal for a person to either knowingly or negligently tattoo or pierce a minor without the prior written consent of the adult parent or legal guardian.

Florida

Fla. Stat. §877.04

Fla. Stat. §381.0075

Tattooing-Requires written, notarized consent of a minor's parent or legal guardian in order to tattoo a minor.

Body Piercing-Prohibits the piercing of a minor without the written, notarized consent of the parent or legal guardian.  Consent may also be a parent or legal guardian accompanying the minor to receive the piercing.

Georgia

Ga. Code §16-5-71

Ga. Code §16-5-71.1

Tattooing-Prohibits the tattooing of anyone under age 18 by anyone other than a licensed osteopath or technician acting under the direct supervision of a licensed physician or osteopath.

Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor.

Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from piercing a minor without prior written consent of the custodial parent or guardian.

Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor.

Hawaii

Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 321-379

--

Tattooing-Prohibits tattooing any person under the age of 18 without written consent from the person's parent or legal guardian. The tattoo shop must keep a record of the confidential written consent for at least two years.

Violators are subject to license revocation or suspension.

Idaho

Idaho Code § 18-1523 (2004)

Idaho Code § 18-1523 (2004)

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits the tattooing, branding or body piercing of minors under the age of 14. Prohibits the tattooing, branding or body piercing of anyone between the ages of 14 and 18 without the written informed consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian. Written informed consent must be executed in the presence of the person performing the act or an employee or agent of that person. Piercing of the ear lobes and piercing for medical purposes are exempted from this legislation.

Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined up to $500.  Subsequent violations within one year will be fined between $500 and $1,000.

Illinois

Ill. Compiled Stat. 720§5/12-10

(Revised 2005 by Public Act No. 094-684. Revised 2012 by Public Act No. 097-1109

Ill. Compiled Stat. 720§5/12-10.1

(Revised '05 by Public Act No. 094-684. Revised 2012 by Public Act No. 097-1109

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tattooing-It is a Class A misdemeanor for anyone other than a person licensed to practice medicine in all branches to tattoo or offer to tattoo a person under age 18.  It is also a Class A misdemeanor to allow a person under 18 years of age to remain on the premises where tattoos are being performed or offered without a parent or legal guardian.

Body Piercing-Establishes that anyone who pierces the body of a minor under age 18 without written consent of the parent or legal guardian commits a Class C misdemeanor. Does not apply to emancipated or married minors. It is also a Class A misdemeanor to allow a person under 18 to enter or remain on the premises of a business where body piercing is being performed or offered unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Indiana

Ind. Code Ann. §35-42-2-7

Ind. Code Ann. §35-42-2-7

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Requires a minor's parent or legal guardian to be present in order to either tattoo or perform a body piercing on a minor under age 18. Requires the parent or guardian to also provide written permission for the minor to receive the tattoo or piercing.

Iowa

Iowa Code §135.37

--

Tattooing-Prohibits anyone from tattooing an unmarried minor under age 18.

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann.  §65-1953

Kan. Stat. Ann.  §65-1953

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from performing body piercing, cosmetic tattooing or tattooing on anyone under age 18 without written and notarized consent and presence of the minor’s parent or court appointed guardian  during the procedure. Requires the individual who performs the body piercing to keep a copy of the written permission on file for a period of five years. Violators are guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Kentucky

Ky. Rev. Stat. §211.760

Ky. Rev. Stat. §211.760

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from tattooing or piercing minors without the written, notarized consent of a parent or guardian.

Louisiana

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §14:93.2

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §14:93.2

Tattooing and Body Piercing-It is unlawful for anyone to tattoo or pierce a minor under age 18 without the consent of the minor's parent or legal custodian, who must accompany them to the procedure.

Upon conviction, violators shall be fined between $100 and $500 or imprisoned between 30 and 100 days, or both.

Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Title 32, Ch. 63 §4203

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Title 32, Ch. 64 §4323

Tattooing-Establishes that it is illegal to tattoo anyone under age 18.

Body Piercing-Requires prior written consent of a minor's parent or legal guardian to perform body piercing on anyone under age 18.

Maryland

--

--

--

Massachusetts

--

--

--

Michigan

Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §333.13102

Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §333.13102

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from either tattooing or performing a piercing on a minor without the prior written, informed consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian. Requires the parent or legal guardian to execute the consent in the presence of either the person performing the body piercing or tattooing on the minor or in the presence of an employee or agent of the individual. Does not include emancipated minors.

Minnesota

Minn. Stat. §609.2246

2007 Minn. Laws, Chap. 98

Tattooing-It is unlawful for anyone under age 18 to receive a tattoo without written parental consent.

Piercing- Prohibits a person from body piercing anyone under age 18 unless they have witnessed written parental consent.  Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor.

Mississippi

Miss. Laws §73-61-1

Miss. Laws §73-61-3

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from tattooing or piercing a minor under age 18. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined a maximum of $500.

Missouri

Mo. Rev. Stat. §324.520

Mo. Rev. Stat. §324.520

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from knowingly tattooing or piercing a minor without prior written, informed consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian. Requires the parent or legal guardian to execute the written consent in the presence of either the person performing the tattooing or body piercing or an employee or agent of that person. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined a maximum of $500. Subsequent violations within one year of the initial violation will be subject to a fine of between $500 and $1,000.

Montana

Mont. Code Ann. §45-5-623

Mont. Code Ann. §45-5-623

 

Tattooing-Prohibits anyone from knowingly tattooing or piercing a child under the age of majority without the explicit in-person consent of the child's parent or guardian.

Upon conviction, violators will be either fined a maximum of $500, imprisoned for up to six months, or both. Those convicted of a second offense will either be fined a maximum of $1,000, imprisoned for up to six months, or both.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. § Sec. 427 71-3

Neb. Rev. Stat. § Sec. 433 71-3

Neb. Rev. Stat. § Sec. 427 71-3

Neb. Rev. Stat. § Sec. 433 71-3

Tattooing and Body Piercing- Combines tattooing and piercing as one practice called "body art." Defines unprofessional conduct for licensing purposes as, in part, knowingly performing body art on a person under 18 years of age without prior written consent of the person's parent or court-appointed guardian, without a parent or guardian's presence at the time the body art is performed and failing to save documentation of the consent for 5 years.  Does not provide criminal penalties, but "unprofessional conduct" can jeopardize licensing.

Nevada

--

--

--

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 314-A:8

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 314-A:8

Tattooing- Prohibits branding and tattooing a person under the age of 18.

Body Piercing- Prohibits performing a body piercing on a person under the age of 18 without consent of that person’s parent or legal guardian. Requires the consenting individual to be physically present at the time of piercing, to provide evidence of status as parent or legal guardian, and to sign a document that provides informed consent. Requires consent records be maintained for at least 7 years.  

New Jersey

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:40-21

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:40-21

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Requires prior written permission of a minor’s parent or legal guardian to tattoo or perform body piercing on anyone under the age of 18.  Violators who knowingly tattoo or perform body piercing on a minor are guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

New Mexico

--

--

--

New York

N.Y. Penal Law § 260.21

N.Y. Public Health Law § 460-A
(Effective 10/28/2012)

Tattooing- It is unlawful to tattoo the body of a child less than 18 years old.  Any person who does so is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a child in the second degree, a class B misdemeanor.
Body Piercing- Prohibits body piercing on a person under 18 years of age unless a parent or legal guardian provides written consent in the presence of the owner of the body piercing studio or a body piercing specialist. Original written consent must be retained for a period of 12 months.

North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-400

N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-400

Tattooing- Prohibits anyone from tattooing a minor under age 18.

Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from piercing any part of a minor under age 18 other than the ears without the prior consent of the custodial parent.

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code §12.1-31

 

N.D. Cent. Code §12.1-31

 

Tattooing and Body Piercing- Prohibits the piercing or tattooing of a minor without the presence and consent of the parent. It is also a Class B misdemeanor to sell tattooing or piercing equipment to a minor.

Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3730.06

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3730.06

Tattooing and Body Piercing-It is illegal to tattoo, body pierce or pierce the ears of anyone under age 18 without the consent of the minor's parent, guardian or custodian. Requires the consenting individual to appear in person at the business at the time the procedure is performed and sign a document that provides informed consent.

Oklahoma

Okla. Stat. Title 21 §842.1, 842.2

 

Okla. Stat. Title 21 §842.1, 842.2

Tattooing and Body Piercing- Prohibits the tattooing of any minor.  The law also prohibits performing or offering to perform a body piercing on a minor unless a parent or legal guardian gives written consent for and is present during the procedure.

Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to 90 days, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

Oregon

--

--

--

Pennsylvania

Pa. Cons. Stat. Title 18 § 6311

Pa. Cons. Stat. Title 18 § 6311

 

Tattooing and Body Piercing- It is unlawful to provide tattoo or body piercing services to anyone under age 18 without the consent of the parent or guardian who is present at the time of the procedure.

Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree and, upon conviction, will be sentenced to either pay a maximum fine of $100 or be imprisoned a maximum of three years, or both.

Rhode Island

RI General Laws §11-9-15

RI General Laws §23-1-39

Tattooing- Prohibits tattooing a minor under the age of 18. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, will either be imprisoned a maximum of one year or fined a maximum of $300.
Body Piercing- Prohibits body piercing of a minor who is not accompanied by his or her consenting parent or guardian.

South Carolina

S.C. Code Ann. §44-34-60

(Amended June 17, 2004-allows tattooing in the state of S.C.)

S.C. Code Ann. §44-32-60

 

Tattooing- Prohibits tattooing anyone under the age of 21.  If a person is at least 18, they may get a tattoo with parental consent.  Allows anyone to avoid prosecution if he or she requested proof of identification and relied on the accuracy of the information contained therein.
Body Piercing- Prohibits anyone from performing body piercing on an individual under age 18.  Requires a body piercing technician to verify age using picture identification.

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws Ann. §26-10-19

--

Tattooing-Requires anyone who is tattooing a minor under age 18 to obtain a signed consent form from the minor's parents authorizing the tattoo.

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. §62-38-207, §39-15-403, and 2008 Tenn. Pub. Acts, Chap. 803

Tenn. Code Ann. §62-38-305, 306, and 2008 Tenn. Pub. Acts, Chap. 803

Tattooing- Minors age 16 or older may be tattooed with the written consent of their parent or legal guardian to cover up an existing tattoo and requires the parent or legal guardian to be present during the procedure.  Amended in 2008 to establish an additional provision requiring parents or guardians to provide proof of guardianship or custody using specifically listed documents.

The law formerly recognized the act of tattooing a person under age 18 as a Class C misdemeanor.  Amended in 2008, the law classifies the action of tattooing a person under age 18 as a Class A misdemeanor.

Body Piercing-Allows a minor age 18 or younger to undergo body piercing with the written consent of the parent, legal guardian or legal custodian and requires them to be present during the procedure. They must sign a document that explains the procedure and methods for proper care, present proof of age and attest in writing that they are the minor's parent, legal guardian or legal custodian. Amended in 2008 to establish an additional provision requiring parents or guardians to provide proof of guardianship or custody using specifically listed documents.

Violators will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and will be imprisoned for up to 30 days or pay a fine of up to $50.

Texas

Texas Health and Safety Code Ann. §146.012

Texas Health and Safety Code Ann. §146.0125

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tattooing-Prohibits anyone from performing a tattoo on a person under age 18 without the consent of a parent or guardian who believes it is in the best interest of the minor to cover an obscene or offensive tattoo. Required consent may be the physical presence of the individual's parent or guardian or the provision of evidence that he or she is the parent or guardian of the person who is getting the tattoo.

Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from performing body piercing on an individual under age 18 without the consent of the individual's parent, managing conservator or guardian. Consent must specify the part of the body to be pierced. Required consent is the physical presence of the individual's parent or guardian and the provision of evidence stating their parental or guardian status.

Utah

Utah Code Ann. §76-10-2201

Utah Code Ann. §76-10-2201

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from performing or offering to perform a tattoo or body piercing upon a minor without receiving the consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian. Establishes that a person is not guilty of a violation if he or she had no actual knowledge of the minor's age and reviewed, recorded and maintained a personal identification number for the minor prior to performing the body piercing or tattoo.

Violators are guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and the owner or operator of the establishment where the act takes place is subject to a civil penalty of $1000 for each violation.

Vermont

Vt. Stat. Ann. Title 26 §4102

--

Tattooing-Prohibits anyone from tattooing a minor without the written consent of his or her parent or guardian.

Virginia

Va. Code §18.2-371.3

Va. Code §18.2-371.3

Tattooing and Body Piercing-Prohibits anyone from tattooing or performing body piercing on a person under age 18, knowing or having reason to believe that the person is under 18 except in the presence of the person's parent or guardian or when done by or under the supervision of a medical doctor, registered nurse, or other medical services personnel in the performance of their duties. Excludes ear piercing as a form of body piercing.

Violators are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code §26.28.085

--

Tattooing-Applying a tattoo to a minor under age 18 is illegal and violators are guilty of a misdemeanor.

Prohibits anyone from stating that he or she did not know the minor's age as a defense to prosecution, unless he or she establishes that by a preponderance of evidence he or she made a reasonable attempt to determine the true age of the minor by requiring a driver's license or other picture ID card and did not rely solely on oral allegations.

West Virginia

W. Va. Code §16-38-3

--

Tattooing-Requires prior written consent from a parent or guardian for the tattooing of a minor.

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. §948.70

--

Tattooing-Prohibits anyone other than a physician in the course of his or her professional practice from tattooing or offering to tattoo a child (under age 18).

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. §14-3-107

Wyo. Stat. §14-3-107

Tattooing and Body Piercing- defines "body-art" as the practice of body piercing, branding scarification, sculpting or tattooing.  Prohibits any person from performing body-art on any person who has not reached the age of majority, except with the consent of the person's parent or legal guardian who is present at the time the procedure is performed.  Age must be verified with specified identification.

Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of six months, a maximum fine of $750, or both.

Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures, 2009.

 

Share this: 
New Members Welcome
We are the nation's most respected bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill.

NCSL Member Toolbox

Denver

7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 80230
Tel: 303-364-7700 | Fax: 303-364-7800

Washington

444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202-624-5400 | Fax: 202-737-1069

Copyright 2014 by National Conference of State Legislatures