Tattoos & Piercing

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When can I get a tattoo, piercing or other body modification?

  • Tattoos and other body marks (branding, beading and scarring): you can only get a tattoo or body mark if you are over 18 years old.
  • Piercings: if you’re under 16, you can get a piercing that is not in a private place, but you must have permission from your parents.
  • Piercings in private places: if you want a piercing in a private place (like your genitals or nipples), you have to wait till you’re 18.
  • At school and work: your school or workplace may have specific rules or policies about tattoos, piercings and body marks, so it’s a good idea to check these first.
  • Watch out for infections!  Remember to protect yourself from diseases by going to a registered parlour with someone who is trained and hygienic!

Tattoos and other body marks

In South Australia you need to be 18 to get a tattoo or other body mark. Other body marks include scarification, branding, beading, stretching, tongue splitting and implantation. It’s against the law for someone to tattoo you or make a body mark on you if you are under 18, even if you have your parent’s permission.

Body piercings

You need to be 16 to get most piercings in South Australia. If you’re under 16 and want a piercing that is not in a private place, you’ll need your parent’s permission either in person or in writing. If you’re getting written permission, your parent’s note must explain the type of body piercing and where it’s going to be on your body. For written permission, you will also have to complete a statutory declaration (a formal legal document saying that you are telling the truth).

You need to be 18 to get a piercing in a private area – this means your genitals, anal region, perineum, nipples or uvula. You can’t get this done if you’re under 18, even with your parent’s permission.  

Giving your agreement

In South Australia, everyone (including adults), unless you are over 16 and getting an earlobe piercing, must enter into a written agreement with the person who is giving you a tattoo, piercing or other body mark.  The agreement must contain information about the nature of the procedure and the way that it will be carried out. It must also contain information about how to care for the area of your body where you get the procedure done.

Piercing policies

Also, even if you do get permission from a parent, some body piercers will not give you a piercing if you’re under 18, and others may ask you to show proof of your age. You may want to call the parlour you are thinking of using and ask what their specific policy is.

Having a tattoo, piercings and body modifications at school or work

Your school or workplace may have specific rules or policies about tattoos, piercings and body marks, so it’s a good idea to check these first.  You have to follow these rules as long as they are not unreasonable or discriminatory.

If a tattoo, piercing or body modification is part of your cultural background, for example your race, descent or ethnic heritage, then it may be unlawful discrimination for a school or workplace to ban you from having it. If you would like more information on this, check out our page on discrimination, or contact us here.

Before you get a tattoo, branding or piercing

  • Do you want it forever?  – remember, tattoos and other markings are permanent.  It is important to think about whether you want a tattoo or other mark for the rest of your life. Also, keep in mind that tattoos and piercings can be painful to get and that piercings can leave scars or holes even after you take the jewellery out.
  • Staying safe – when you get a tattoo or piercing, there is always a risk of getting a blood-borne disease like Hepatitis C or B, HIV or a bacterial infection. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to always go to a professional tattoo artist and piercer. Also, you should make sure that the tattoo studio is safe and hygienic and that all tools are sterilised. This means that you should avoid home tattoo or piercing parlours, or DIY kits (even if your friend is the one doing it!).   All tattoo parlours and piercing studios in South Australia should comply with the Guidelines for Safe and Hygienic Skin Penetration.  

If you have any questions about getting a tattoo, piercing or other body modification, please contact us here.

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