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Can a Minor Get a Tattoo
With Parent’s Permission in California? (2023)

If you live in California, you have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo. In fact, it is illegal for tattoo artists to administer a tattoo to children under the age of 18.
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Can a Minor Get a Tattoo With Parent's Permission in California?

No. California state law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from being tattooed under any circumstance, regardless of whether they have consent from their parents. Per California Penal Code 653, anyone who tattoos or offers to tattoo a minor is guilty of a misdemeanor.

What is the Penalty for Tattooing a Minor in California?

Tattooing a minor is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and any other conditions of probation that a judge may deem appropriate in California. Additionally, any tattoo artist may have their license revoked if they perform this service.

What if the Artist Doesn't Know the Age of the Client?

It is important to understand that not knowing the age of a person doesn’t exempt the tattooist from breaking the law. When someone wants to get a tattoo, the studio must ask for a valid form of identification, like a driver’s license or passport, to verify their age. This is an important step to make sure that the studio and artist comply with the law and only provide tattoos to adults.

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Are There Exceptions?

Yes. Only licensed doctors or medical professionals who are trained in the healing arts can legally tattoo a minor under the age of 18 in California.

They may perform this service only if it’s part of their medical practice and for specific health-related reasons. All other tattooists are not allowed to tattoo minors, without exception.

How Old Do I Have to Be to Get a Piercing in California?

You must be over 18 to have your nipples or genitalia pierced in California. For all the other piercings, you must have a parent or legal guardian with you if you are under 18.

There are essentially 2 legal defenses available to a defendant who is charged with tattooing a minor:
1. Defendant shows that he or she did not “tattoo” the child, as the term is defined under state law. For example, an individual who puts a temporary tattoo on a child is not guilty of a crime because they did not use a needle on the child’s skin.

2. Defendant proves that he or she is a licensed practitioner of the healing arts, and is thus exempted from PC 653. If these professionals “tattoo” a minor in the course of their practice, then they are not guilty of a crime.

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