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The Law Relating to Body Piercing and Tattoos

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 12 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Law Enforcement Health Safety Local

Having a tattoo or a body piercing is a big decision, and in a lot of cases, a permanent one. Until recently, the laws applying to tattoos and body piercing were sketchy to say the least, and it could be hard to tell who was reputable and who to avoid.

What Laws Apply to Body Art?

The main areas of law that relate to body piercing and tattoos cover the health, safety and licensing of any premises that carries out 'cosmetic' skin piercing and permanent tattooing. These laws are:

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSWA,1974)
  • The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 ( recently amended by the Local Government Act 2003)
  • Laws relating to Age and consent
  • The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969
  • Assault implications
  • The Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act (1985)
  • Anaesthetics - The Medicines Act (1968
  • Legal exemptions affecting some special treatments.

Who has to be Registered?

All businesses that carry out ear piercing and permanent tattooing must be registered under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, and since 2004, local authorities also regulate salons and other businesses that carry out body piercing, and semi-permanent skin-colouring techniques such as micropigmentation, semi-permanent make-up or temporary tattoo services.Local authorities have the powers to inspect any premises that carry out piercing or tattooing, and make sure that they are observing local byelaws that relate to the hygiene of their premises, staff and equipment.

How Old Do I Have to Be for Piercing?

There is no legal age of consent for body piercing, and so it's legal for someone under the age of 18 to have a piercing as long as they have consented to it. Children under the age of 16 can't legally consent to a genital (or in the case of girls, nipple) piercing, as it's considered to be indecent assault. There are no plans to introduce an age of consent for body piercing in any areas other than the genitals, although some local authorities have introduced recommendations about the ages at which a person can have specific body piercings.

How Old Do I Have to be for a Tattoo?

The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 makes it illegal for anyone to tattoo you if you are under the age of 18 - although the offence is with the person who carries out the procedure, rather than the person who asks for the tattoo. New guidelines suggest that a tattoo artist should ask to see proof of age and record this before agreeing to tattoo you.

What Must I be Asked?

Before a piercing or tattoo is carried out, the studio should, by law, ask some important health questions, as well as making sure you have all the appropriate aftercare advice.

They should ask you about any allergies or health problems that may affect your tattoo or piercing, and they are also obliged to keep detailed records of this consultation for up to two years. This protects you as a client, as it makes sure that the piercer or tattoo artist knows in advance whether there are any issues that could lead to complications - or even be dangerous for you.

Aftercare Advice?

After you've been pierced, or your tattoo is complete, you should be given specific advice about what to expect, and how to look after your new artwork.

Local authorities will expect businesses to give out basic advice, mostly relating to hygiene, for example the time you can expect to wait before the wound is fully healed, how to keep the piercing or tattoo clean and dry and avoiding infection.

The laws have been tightened up considerably in recent years, following horror stories about underage tattoos and body piercing that has led to septicaemia. At least with the stricter regulations, you should be assured that anywhere you visit has been registered with and inspected by health and safety officers. If they aren't registered - leave well alone.

If you do decide to have a piercing or tattoo make sure you find a Reputable Tattoo Parlour.

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[Add a Comment]
oi listen thers not need for kids on ere asking daft questions like I needed parental consent over a belly piercing at 13 years old.. if you wan tattoos just wait till youre the legal age tht way if any authorities find out that a tattooist has agreed t tattoo someone under the age of 18 they can b prosectuted...as can whoevers allowed consent over it
pooinyouass - 12-May-17 @ 10:25 PM
I'm 16 and want to get a tattoo apparently you can get one when your 16 in Spain is that true?
isaac - 11-May-17 @ 4:38 PM
Dee - Your Question:
I've just turneed 17 and wish to become a tattoo artist, I asked my parents if I could get a tattoo for my birthday and then agreed this is one of my 17th birthday presents would I be able to get a tattoo or not as I have parental permission

Our Response:
No, it is illegal for anyone to tattoo you if you are under 18. A tattoo artisit would be breaking the law if they did so.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 11-May-17 @ 12:57 PM
leanbean - Your Question:
So I paid for a chest piece covering a good amount of my under breast and rib cage area right.well my "artist" decided to give the idead that maybe I reschedule for the rest.so basically all he did was the outline.some lines not even full.not to mention I already paid for it to be COMPLETED.well not only did he reschedule my appt cause of him not "liking" the father of my child wich has nothing to do with are business transation and contractbut the day of the app I was told he wouldnt tattoo if (who he didnt like) was to come to the app.i let that go.but then finally I think its gonna be finished he goes of saying hes not finishing it cause he hurd I was tlking abt his relative???and a good client.ok then what am I trash?i kindly asked for him to just finish it.but if not to give me a refund of what was left.he tells me "you did get a tattoo.its not finished cause of you not me.so no.what can I do please tell me theres something cause this is no way shape or form done.

Our Response:
If you are not satisfied with the service and the provider is refusing a refund, you may need to claim the costs back via the small claims court.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 11-May-17 @ 11:25 AM
I've just turneed 17 and wish to become a tattoo artist, I asked my parents if I could get a tattoo for my birthday and then agreed this is one of my 17th birthday presents would I be able to get a tattoo or not as I have parental permission
Dee - 9-May-17 @ 11:18 PM
so i paid for a chest piece covering a good amount of my under breast and rib cage area right...well my "artist" decided to give the idead that maybe i reschedule for the rest..so basically all he did was the outline..some lines not even full. not to mention i already paid for it to be COMPLETED. well not only did he reschedule my appt cause of him not "liking" the father of my child wich has nothing to do with are business transation and contract but the day of the app i was told he wouldnt tattoo if (who he didnt like) was to come to the app. i let that go...but then finally i think its gonna be finished he goes of saying hes not finishing it cause he hurd i was tlking abt his relative???....and a good client.ok then what am i trash? i kindly asked for him to just finish it..but if not to give me a refund of what was left. he tells me "you did get a tattoo.its not finished cause of you not me.so no........what can i do please tell me theres something cause this is no way shape or form done.
leanbean - 8-May-17 @ 10:22 PM
How do you go about getting a licence for mobile piercing, using single use disposable equipment??
Woody - 29-Apr-17 @ 1:34 PM
CurtinhaInk - Your Question:
It is legal do genital Female pierings for someone over 18 years old in U.K.?

Our Response:
Yes as long as they consent to it.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 28-Apr-17 @ 12:04 PM
I wanna move to England in a few years and I want to know if there are problems to find a job if i have tattoos . Like I can't have a tattoo in my wrist or stuff like that
Joharebka - 27-Apr-17 @ 10:49 PM
I am 12 I want to get my belly button pierced but will I need a parent with me when I get it done ,
Demi - 27-Apr-17 @ 10:43 PM
It is legal do genital Female pierings for someone over 18 years old in U.K.?
CurtinhaInk - 27-Apr-17 @ 10:05 AM
I'm 14 and I want to get my helix pierced. Do I have to get parental consent or can I just go to the salon by myself?
Mt - 24-Apr-17 @ 9:48 PM
JC - Your Question:
My girlfriend's daughter's, who is 17, father pierced her and her friend's, not sure her age, nipples a week ago. My girlfriend just found out tonight. He is not a professional and not a domicile parent. What laws are there in Mississippi that apply to this particular case? Thanks for your time.

Our Response:
We are in the UK so cannot really comment on your state laws. In the UK it's illegal for a professional piercing salon to perform nipple/genital piercings on under 16s, however, many local authorities impose an 18 year old limit. A father piercing a friend and her daughter in this way is extremely questionable and would be investigated by the police here in the UK.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 19-Apr-17 @ 12:18 PM
My girlfriend's daughter's, who is 17,fatherpierced her and her friend's, not sure her age, nipples a week ago. My girlfriend just found out tonight. He is not a professional and not a domicile parent. What laws are there in Mississippi that apply to this particular case? Thanks for your time.
JC - 17-Apr-17 @ 6:23 AM
Nat - Your Question:
I'm 16 can I get my nipples pierced without parental consent?

Our Response:
You need to check with your local authority. In general nipple piercings should not be carried out on anyone under 16 but some areas raise this to 18.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 11-Apr-17 @ 11:51 AM
Porse3006 - Your Question:
Does it come under child abuse for a 13 year old to have a tattoo

Our Response:
It is illegal to tattoo a child under 18.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 10-Apr-17 @ 2:14 PM
I'm 16 can I get my nipples pierced without parental consent?
Nat - 9-Apr-17 @ 6:12 PM
My 15 had her navel pierced without my consent is this illegal?
Sally - 8-Apr-17 @ 11:06 PM
Does it come under child abuse for a 13 year old to have a tattoo
Porse3006 - 7-Apr-17 @ 8:42 PM
Laurs - Your Question:
Can someone under the age of 16 get their lip pierced?

Our Response:
Here's what the article says and contains the information you need:
"There is no legal age of consent for body piercing, and so it's legal for someone under the age of 18 to have a piercing as long as they have consented to it. Children under the age of 16 can't legally consent to a genital (or in the case of girls, nipple) piercing, as it's considered to be indecent assault. There are no plans to introduce an age of consent for body piercing in any areas other than the genitals, although some local authorities have introduced recommendations about the ages at which a person can have specific body piercings."
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 5-Apr-17 @ 12:58 PM
Can someone under the age of 16 get their lip pierced?
Laurs - 4-Apr-17 @ 12:02 PM
meg - Your Question:
Im nine years old and I want my nose pierced and my cartilage piercing can I get it done

Our Response:
There is no age limit for piercings but some salons do have their own conditions and will not do piercings on those under 16 years of age. Also some local councils have age limits attached to their own licensing agreements.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 29-Mar-17 @ 1:52 PM
UUJ - Your Question:
Hi thereIs it legal for a registered person who has their own business premises to come to my house and do a piercing if I dont want to go to their premises?Cheers.

Our Response:
Check with your local authority and the terms of the piercer's licence.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 29-Mar-17 @ 12:23 PM
Tom - Your Question:
Hi can I get a tattoo at 17 if a perant comes with me

Our Response:
No, please see the article above where it states: "The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 makes it illegal for anyone to tattoo you if you are under the age of 18 - although the offence is with the person who carries out the procedure, rather than the person who asks for the tattoo"
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:43 AM
im nine years old and I want my nose pierced and my cartilage piercing can i get it done
meg - 28-Mar-17 @ 1:14 AM
Hi there Is it legal for a registered person who has their own business premises to come to my house and do a piercing if I dont want to go to their premises? Cheers.
UUJ - 27-Mar-17 @ 7:40 PM
Hi can I get a tattoo at 17 if a perant comes with me
Tom - 27-Mar-17 @ 1:52 AM
Megz - Your Question:
Hi I'm 16 and I was wondering if I could get a tattoo with the consent of my parents??

Our Response:
As the article clearly says: "The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 makes it illegal for anyone to tattoo you if you are under the age of 18 - although the offence is with the person who carries out the procedure, rather than the person who asks for the tattoo. New guidelines suggest that a tattoo artist should ask to see proof of age and record this before agreeing to tattoo you"
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 24-Mar-17 @ 1:41 PM
Hi I am house bound would it be possible for a tattooist come out to the house
Mandy - 24-Mar-17 @ 12:07 PM
Jake - Your Question:
Ey IM 15 , 16 in july , could I get a tattoo with parnents concent on my 16th

Our Response:
NO...The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 makes it illegal for anyone to tattoo you if you are under the age of 18 - although the offence is with the person who carries out the procedure, rather than the person who asks for the tattoo. New guidelines suggest that a tattoo artist should ask to see proof of age and record this before agreeing to tattoo you.
BeautyTreatmentExpert - 22-Mar-17 @ 10:22 AM
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