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California Tattoo Age Limit: What You Need to Know

Bay Ink Tattoo

June 3, 2024

California Tattoo Age Limit: What You Need to Know

They say age is just a number. Well, not when it comes to tattoos.

Over the years, we’ve fielded questions regarding our state’s tattoo laws. Some people have heard that if they receive written permission from a legal guardian, they can get inked at age 16. Others believe there are no age restrictions at all.

We’re here to set the record straight and tell you everything you need to know about California tattoo laws.

Tattoo Law Misconceptions

There’s a common misconception that minors (anyone under the age of 18) can get tattooed with parental consent. This is false.

California law requires you to be at least 18 years old to get a tattoo, regardless of parental consent. Our state takes this tattoo law very seriously. An artist who violates this law could:

  • Be charged with a misdemeanor
  • Spend up to six months in county jail
  • Be fined up to $1,000
  • Face license revocation

We are committed to upholding state law and require all customers to provide a valid, government-issued photo ID (such as a state-issued driver’s license or passport) before getting a tattoo.

Are There Exceptions to the Law?

When you consider the legal definition of a “tattoo,” it’s clear that there is no exception.

According to California law, “tattooing” is inserting pigment under the skin surface by pricking it with a needle to produce a mark or figure visible through the skin.

So, while licensed practitioners, including occupational therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, medical assistants, and acupuncturists, are permitted to use needles when treating a minor, they are prohibited from giving them a tattoo.

Long story short? There is no exception to the law. You must be 18 years old to get a tattoo.

Why Does California Have a Tattoo Age Limit?

The reasons for tattoo laws are pretty straightforward: They are intended to protect the health and safety of minors who may not have the maturity or judgment to make informed decisions about body modifications.

While tattooing is generally safe, it still involves breaking the skin and requires proper sterilization and aftercare procedures. By upholding these laws, our artists keep customers safe and ensure they are making informed decisions about their health, well-being, and aesthetic choices.

Why We Uphold California Tattoo Laws

If you are a minor and feel frustrated by this law, we urge you to hang tight until you reach legal adulthood. Getting a tattoo from an unregulated artist is not only an illegal but dangerous decision that could put your health and safety at risk.

If these “artists” are willing to break laws, they’re just as likely to ignore safety standards and hygienic best practices that protect you from blood-borne infections and diseases.

Choosing the Right Tattoo Shop

Safety and hygiene are non-negotiables for us. We adhere to California tattoo laws and rigorously maintain local health department compliance standards.

That means our studio is divided into separate sections and adequately ventilated to minimize exposure to airborne contaminants. We also use PPE and sterilize equipment, require our artists to undergo extensive training and certification, and proudly display our license. Unsure about what qualities to look for in a tattoo shop or artist? Swing by our blog. We’ve written about this extensively.

Let’s Ink Your Tattoo Idea. Consult With Our Artists!

Now that you understand California's tattoo law and the importance of choosing a reputable tattoo shop, it may be time to take the next step. If you're 18 or older and ready to bring your vision to life, stop by our shop or book a consultation to meet with one of our experienced artists. We’ll answer your questions, help you refine your design ideas, and kick-start the process. Contact us now!

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