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What age do you have to be to get a tattoo in the UK?


Itching for some ink? Read this first… (Picture: Getty)

As many who have them will tell you, tattoos can be incredibly meaningful.

They can also be a way of expressing your interests, developing your personal style, showing off your own art or designs – and let’s face it, they look pretty cool.

Whatever the reason for wanting one, getting inked for the first time is often a big deal. It can also be a little bit addictive – with many opting for more than one design in their lifetime.

But how old do you have to be to get tattooed in the UK?

Let’s find out.

What is the legal age for getting a tattoo in the UK?

To get a tattoo in the UK, you have to be aged 18 or over.

It’s illegal to get inked until you’re 18 in the UK, the law states (Picture: Getty)

The age restriction is set out by the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969, which clearly states that is illegal to tattoo someone under 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 artists themselves – so they’re required to look for proof of age, such as ID, and make a record of it before inking.

The legislation continues: ‘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.’

This law applies to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Over in the Republic of Ireland, however, there’s technically no legal minimum age for getting a tattoo.

However, Black Hat Tattoo writes that giving anyone under 17 (the age of consent in Ireland) a tattoo wouldn’t be on.

So, a 16-year-old wanting to get inked in Ireland would need to have a parent or guardian present.

Meanwhile, in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Spain, you can get a tattoo at 16 – but you must first have parental permission to do so.

Other European countries, including Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, have no law-based age restriction on tattoos.


MORE : Why is the EU banning coloured ink for tattoos and will the UK follow suit?


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