Age of Reason: Piercing and Tattoo Laws and Age Limits

by Lorna

*Look at the 2015 Update to the Laws in your state

Because there’s no specific federal laws and regulations concerning age limitation for body modifications in the United States, each state sets their own standard, and the differences vary widely.  So how do you know how old you have to be in your state?  Well, here’s a little helping hand:

Getting Piercings and Tattoos

In the states of Alaska, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, there are no laws concerning age limits for body piercing or tattooing.  In these states, individual professionals in either of these arts will often set their own standards, and depending on exactly where you live, there might be local regulations for certain specific modification types.  Even though it’s legal to get pierced in these places under the age of sixteen, piercers will often require parental presence or consent in those situations, and for some services a valid ID will be required.

Photo ID and Parental Consent

In Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, there are no age limits for piercing, but tattooing of a minor requires parental consent in either verbal or written form.

The following states require written consent from a parent or guardian for any body piercing or tattooing of someone under 18: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont.  In some of these places, like Florida and Kentucky, the written consent form must be notarized.

And in these states, a parent must actually be present for either service, and sometimes also provide a signature or written consent: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.

The states of California, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington, deem it illegal for those under 18 to get a tattoo, period, but piercings are allowed with the presence or consent of a parent.

Most of the remaining states have very specific regulations.  For example, for residents of Idaho, it’s illegal to get pierced, branded, or tattooed under the age of 14, and between fourteen and eighteen you need a parent’s permission.  And in the state of Mississippi, any modification except ear lobe piercings is illegal to perform on someone under 18 at all.  Also, in both Georgia and Illinois, only medically licensed professionals can tattoo minors, and both piercing and tattooing require parental permission.

Parental Permissions for Piercing

In other countries, like those in the UK, legal age is 16 rather than 18 like in the US, and piercing regulations are often set up by local governments.  Intimate piercings are illegal under the age of 16, but for other piercings there are no strict age limits, and the most common municipal regulations include simply the presence or consent of a parent.

Piercing Laws in the UK

*Look at the 2015 Update to the Laws in your state

by Lorna

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  • J

    Jodie O

    Hi Lacie,

    Montana law states: Piercings require explicit in-person consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.

  • l


    so i’m 15 and live in Montana get i get my belly button done

  • J

    Jodie O

    Hi Abby,

    The law for Illinois just states that you must have your parent present to sign for the piercing, but each shop will establish their own guidelines for the minimum age they will perform body piercings. The quickest way to find out would be to call a shop and ask them what they require. Hope this helps!

  • A


    Are there any places in Illinois that will let you get your Lip or nose pierced When you are 14 with a parent or a signed paper of some sort?

  • J

    Jodie O

    Hi Maddie,

    North Dakota law states a parent has to be present for the piercing, but you’ll have to call the shop and ask them what their minimum age requirement guidelines are for piercings other than earlobes.

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