How Old Do You Have to Be To Get A Tattoo?

It is one of the most popular questions often asked by teens and their often concerned parents. It was also one of the raging topics on Reddit and happens to make for some interesting dinner side conversation just so long as everyone tends to agree with everyone else. Unfortunately, for many teens who want to get inked, their parents aren’t exactly on board with that idea, especially if their parents have never been inked.  

So, the question is how old should a kid be before they can go out and get a tattoo. In places like Queensland, most students completing Year 12 are around 17 years of age. Technically, they are not of legal voting age and can’t legally purchase cigarettes or alcohol for that matter. However, many youngsters who have been able to get inked, a permanent mark on their skin is something often later regret the decision.

Unlike in the old days, people are more open to getting inked and seeing others covered in body tattoos. While older people may still associate tattoos with gangs and unsavoury human characteristics, the fact is that many people get inked because it makes them look beautiful. It is seen as being something as standard as ear piercings which were frowned upon too not very long go.

Should Teens Get Tattoos?

Now before we dive into the legal age at which a teen can legally get a tattoo, we should first determine if a teen should get a tattoo in the first place. Most teens are still developing, and their rational thinking may not exactly be fully developed. Many teens are influenced heavily by fads which last a few years at most, and they are all but forgotten later. Tattoos, on the other hand, are for life unless you have the time, money and nerves to go through tattoo removal. That’s why many teens end up regretting their tattoos in their mid-twenties.

As a legal adult, i.e. age 18 in Australia means that a teen can get a tattoo. As a new grownup, the decision and the consequences that stem from them are solely theirs. Also, a choice made by a minor is just as regrettable later on, sadly irreversible and very expensive to remove.

In our opinion, the law has the duty to protect youth before the legal age of 18, especially when it comes to alcohol, cigarettes and even tattoos. Unfortunately, the law might not be doing as good as job as it should.

Legal Age for a Tattoo in New South Wales

In New South Wales, the legal age for a youngster to get a tattoo without needing their parent’s permission is 18. Anyone who is under the age of 18 will need their parent’s permission. The permission should state what type of tattoo is allowed, and where on the body should it be done. The permission will be in writing. That said any tattoo parlor that inks a kid without the written permission of their parent is breaking the law and can be fined.

The Law in Queensland

Youngsters as young as 18, legally, an adult can get a tattoo without their parents’ consent. However, for anyone under 18, it is illegal to be tattooed. However, unlike in NSW, your parent’s permission does not matter.

The Legal Age in Victoria

The legal age, like the rest of Australia, is 18. Though anyone who is under 18 shouldn’t be inked and the person doing it is committing a criminal offence. Here to your parent’s permission does not matter. The same law applies to South Australia and Western Australia. However, in Western Australia, if the youngster has their parent’s written permission, they can get a tattoo only on the position on the body that’s permitted.

The Law in NT and Tasmania

In Tasmania and Northern Territory, there is no law which states just how old or young a person can be to get body piercing or a tattoo. The only thing that matters is having the ability to get valid consent which in other words, means being of sound mind and body.

At present, there is no age before 18 at which you can consent. It is up to the tattooist, or body piercer to figure out if you can fully understand what the process entails and how it will affect them. The person on the other side will make the following considerations:

  • Your present age and maturity level
  • The nature of piercings or tattoos that you desire
  • If or not you are mentally mature enough to understand the long-term impact of the tattoo or the piercing, what the process involves and what will happen if things go wrong. It is important that the youngster understands the adverse effects of something going wrong like infections or various other complications.

In practice, we have seen that the vast majority of tattoo studios require parental permission. Most will not tattoo a youngster without some parental involvement.

Inking is No Simple Task

As you have probably been able to figure out by now inking, for the most part, is a complex legal matter when teens are involved. Many people are surprised by the law in NT and Tasmania; however, in practice, most professionals will not tattoo anyone under 18 unless they have explicit permission even though the law does not require it. One reason is that they want to be free of any liability. After all, nobody wants to end up in jail for causing bodily harm to a youngster who shouldn’t technically be engaging in body piercing or tattoos. In other words, anyone under 18 shouldn’t consider getting a tattoo.

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