While getting your first tattoo may be an exciting event, it is always good to know the laws about tattooing in your state to prevent either you or your tattooist from getting into legal trouble. While all states allow tattoos, there are many age and tattoo placement regulations that vary from state to state.

The most common restriction on tattoos is age. For most states the age is 18 (except Arizona where it is 14 and Illinois where it is 21). For those who are under 18 years of age, a signed statement of parental consent is required to get a tattoo. In a few states such as Iowa, tattooing a minor(under 18) is illegal regardless of parental consent. This applies in the UK also. Violating the age restriction can result in consequences from being convicted of a Class C misdemeanor to several hundred dollars in fines and up to one year in jail, depending on the state.

Besides age, several states also have restrictions on where tattoos can be placed. These effect the tattooists more than the person getting the tattoo as it is the tattooist’s job to refuse if someone wants a tattoo in a place where it is illegal to get one.  In Georgia, it is illegal to get a tattoo within an inch of the eye. This is in place to prevent eye tattooing which can severely damage an eye to the point of making a person go blind.

In Hawaii, it is illegal to get a tattoo from the jawbone up, effectively making it illegal to get any kind of facial tattoo. This is to prevent eye and lip tattoos which are becoming more popular today but can have serious medical consequences. If a tattooist breaks these laws, the shop will be shut down and the person could be facing a large fine and/or time in prison.

Beyond these restrictions, several states require tattoo artists to have a certain number of years  of training and/or be certified by he AAM before being allowed to run his or her own tattoo shop. States such as New York also have zoning restrictions stating that a tattoo parlor cannot be located within 1000 feet of a church, synagogue, or park.

Furthermore, in several states, tattooing of certain areas, especially, the face, can only be done by a medical professional and certain after tattooing procedures are required to ensure safety of the person being tattooed. Breaking any of these laws or statues will result in suspension of tattooing license, likely closing of tattoo parlor, and possible fines and/or time in prison.

Before diving in and getting the tattoo you want, always make sure to check that the tattoo you desire is legal. Laws vary from state to state and you need to make sure you know the law where you live.