State of Play: Body Piercing and Tattoo Laws in the US

by Lorna
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piercer with forceps

States that require the written consent of a parent or guardian to pierce or tattoo a minor (person under the age of 18):

Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.  In the majority of these states the written consent must be executed in the presence of the body modification artist who will perform the piercing or tattoo.

In Florida and Kentucky the written consent must also be notarized.

States that require the physical presence of a parent or guardian in order to tattoo or pierce a minor:

Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.  Consent forms will generally need to be read and signed by the parent or guardian.

In Kansas the consenting party must not only be present, but must also provide written and notarized consent.

States in which the tattooing of a minor (those under 18) is illegal, but body piercing may be performed on minors with parental consent:

Alaska, California, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington.

 teen waiting to be pierced

States in which tattooing of a minor requires parental consent and must be performed by a licensed medical doctor or osteopath only:

Georgia, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

States with strictly defined laws:

In Idaho it’s illegal to tattoo or pierce minors under the age of 14, period.  Those between 14 and 18 will require the written consent and presence of their parent or guardian.

In Mississippi, it’s illegal to tattoo or body pierce anyone under the age of 18, regardless.  (Ear piercing is not considered a body piercing.)

In South Carolina, the tattooing or piercing of minors under 18 is illegal, and those under 21 will require parental consent for tattooing.

In Tennessee the tattooing of minors under 18 is illegal, unless it is for a medical reason or to cover an existing tattoo.  Those under 16 cannot be tattooed at all, and piercings will require parent or guardian’s consent and presence.

 piercings tattoos and permanent makeup

States with no specific state statutes, or where piercing/tattooing is left to the discretion of licensees or the local government:

Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon.  Although there isn’t strict statewide regulations, local laws are on the books in various counties or regions of these states which state that tattooing or piercing of a minor is allowed with parental presence and/or consent.

As always, the best way to know exactly what you need is to call prospective parlors or artists and ask what they require.  Even in states without strict body art laws, artists themselves may institute limitations based on age or the type of modification at their discretion.

by Lorna

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