Can I Get a Tattoo If I’m Under 18?
The legal age to be tattooed depends on where you are in the world. I worked in Australia, where most shops will tattoo 16/ 17-year-old’s with parental consent. The consent doesn't just mean your mom, dad or guardian accompanies you. Your parent or legal guardian must fill in sign a consent form, which must be taken to a licensed GP for verification.
This is the most commonly legal way of providing consent, if a tattoo shop is doing anything less, it's likely illegal depending on the country. From 18 onward you're free to be tattooed at your heart's desire. Just provide a photo identification, there are no exceptions when it comes to getting the right information on paper.
Based on the research I’ve done, it seems the United States, United Kingdom and Europe have a similar procedure. The US seems to be the strictest with an unacceptable under 18's policy among most tattoo shops.
Should I Get a Tattoo If I'm Under 18?
Personally, I wish it was strictly 18's and over. It would have saved me from a few impulsive decisions. While I do like them, none of the tattoos I had when I was 18 and younger were tattoos that I'd get now. I think people rarely like the same things in their teens as they do in adulthood.
Of course, the parents do have a say in their decisions, but not all parents are as responsible as you'd hope. Some would be very sensible about it by making sure the tattoo was of a respectable size and placement, and adamant about the tattoo being for the right reasons. Not just to look cool for their friends or Instagram.
On the other end of the spectrum, I'd actually witness some parents pressure their child into getting a tattoo. Isn't that insane? Mothers and fathers intervening with forceful opinions on (what should be) personal preference. I'd see a dad convince his nervous son to make his tattoo far bigger and more visible. On a growing body this is just asking for a warped tattoo as they age and naturally bulk. This is also where it helps to have a mindful tattoo artist advising clients to wait a few more years for bigger work.
Having so many variables in the decision-making process can seriously cloud your judgement. It's so very important that you have a clear idea of what you're going to wear for the rest of your life, and if your judgement can be so easily clouded; maybe you need more time to settle on your idea.
Planning your first tattoo is exciting, and I understand that there's a feeling of urgency once you decide you want one (I've been there). Just keep in mind that you'll have all the time in the world to appreciate it, and 30 years later you won't be remembering when you got the tattoo. So, if you're going to get a tattoo in your teens; be patient, responsible and have a clear idea of what you want.
Worst case scenario--you can just chop your arm off.
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