For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.
When can I get a tattoo, piercing or other body modification?
- Tattoos and branding: if you’re under 16, you cannot get a tattoo or be branded. If you’re between the ages of 16 and 18, you can get a tattoo or be branded if you have written permission from a parent.
- Ear piercings: if you’re 16 or older, you can get your ears pierced without your parent’s permission.
- Other piercings: if you’re under 18, you must get your parent’s permission before you get a piercing anywhere other than your ears. BUT if you want a piercing in a private place (like your genitals or nipples), you have to wait till you’re 18 even if you have parent’s permission. 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 branding
In Western Australia you need to be 16 or older to get a tattoo or be branded.
If you are between the ages of 16 and 18, you’ll need your parent’s permission in writing to get a tattoo or be branded. The note must explain the type of tattoo or brand you want to get and where it’s going to be on your body. It’s against the law for someone to tattoo or brand you without your parent’s written permission if you are under 18.
You can get your ears pierced without your parent’s permission after you turn 16. If you’re under 18 and want to get any other piercing that is not in a private place (eg. your genitals or nipples), you’ll need your parent’s permission in writing. Your parent’s note must explain where the piercing will be.
If you want to get a piercing on your genitals or nipples, you have to wait until you’re 18. You can’t get this done even with your parent’s permission when you are under 18.
Tattoo and piercing policies
Even if you do get permission from a parent, some tattooists and body piercers will not give you a tattoo or a piercing if you’re under 18, and others may ask you to show proof of your age, or even sign a statutory declaration (a legal document) outlining your age, and that you understand the risks involved in the procedure. As a result, it is a good idea to call the tattoo / piercing parlour you are thinking of going to and asking them what their policy is on giving tattoos or piercings to someone your age who has a parent’s consent.
Having tattoos, 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 must 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 and piercing parlours in Western Australia have to be registered and licensed so it is a good idea to make sure the place is registered before getting anything done. Tattoo parlours and piercing studios in Western Australia must also follow strict infection control measures set by the government in special guidelines.
If you have any questions about getting a tattoo, piercing or other body modification, please contact us here.
March 29, 2018
February 16, 2021
Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA)
Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)