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What age can you get a tattoo in the UK?

Tattoos are as popular as ever, with tattoo removal experts claiming that as many as one in three Britons now has at least one tattoo on their body. However, the decision to get inked should never be taken lightly, particularly if you’ve got a lot of life ahead of you. Read on to find out what age you can get a tattoo in the UK.

What is the legal age for getting a tattoo?

To get a tattoo in the UK, you need to be at least 18 years old. This legislation is set out by the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969, which states that is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18.
The Act reads: ‘It shall be an offence to tattoo a person under the age of eighteen except when the tattoo is performed for medical reasons by a duly qualified medical practitioner or by a person working under his direction.’
All the liability falls on the tattoo artist if they tattoo someone who’s underage. It’s up to them to request proof of age, such as ID, and then make a record of it before they begin the procedure.
The Act also reads: ‘But it shall be a defence for a person charged to show that at the time the tattoo was performed he had reasonable cause to believe that the person tattooed was of or over the age of eighteen and did in fact so believe.’

Can a minor get a tattoo with parental consent in the UK?

No, it’s illegal for a minor to get a tattoo even if they have parental consent. Some under-18s think they can walk into a tattoo parlour and get a tattoo if they are accompanied by their parents, however, this isn’t the case. A tattooist will still be required to ask for ID to determine your age. If you can’t prove that you’re 18 or over, you will be turned away.

Where can I get a tattoo under 18?

The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 law applies to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, in the Republic of Ireland, there’s no legal minimum age for getting a tattoo. Although this technically means you can get a tattoo there at any age, there is government guidance and a code of practice that discourages the tattooing of minors. This means that under-18s generally need to have a parent or guardian present.
Teens can get inked in a number of European countries from the age of 16 as long as they have parental consent. These include Austria, Germany, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Lithuania and Spain. Some other European countries have no legal age restrictions on tattoos. These are Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden.
If you are under 18 and are desperate to get inked, unfortunately, you’ll need to wait a little while longer unless you’re prepared to travel overseas to get the tattoo you want.

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