Can I Get A Tattoo At 17 In New York? Everything You Need To Know

For teens excited to get their first tattoo, turning 17 is a big milestone. But what are the actual laws around getting tattoos under 18 in New York State? Can 17-year-olds get inked without parental consent?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: In New York, it is illegal for anyone under 18 to get a tattoo, even with parental permission.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover New York’s exact laws on tattoos for minors, outline exceptions where a 17-year-old may get a tattoo, and provide tips for parents considering consenting to their teen getting body art.

New York State Laws on Tattoos for Minors

Getting a tattoo can be an exciting experience for many teenagers, but it’s important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding tattooing minors. In New York State, there are specific laws in place to protect minors and ensure their safety when getting a tattoo.

Statutory Summary

In New York, the legal age to get a tattoo without parental consent is 18 years old. This means that if you are under the age of 18, you cannot get a tattoo without your parent or legal guardian’s permission.

It’s important to note that this age requirement is in place to protect minors from making impulsive decisions that they may later regret.

According to the New York State Department of Health, the minimum age to get a tattoo with parental consent is 17 years old. This means that if you are 17 and have your parent’s or legal guardian’s consent, you can legally get a tattoo in New York.

No Exceptions with Parental Consent

The laws in New York State regarding tattoos for minors are strict, and there are no exceptions to the minimum age requirement. Even with parental consent, individuals under the age of 17 are not allowed to get a tattoo in the state.

It’s important for tattoo artists to follow these laws and verify the age and consent of their clients. This helps to ensure the safety and well-being of minors who may be considering getting a tattoo.

Permanent vs. Temporary Tattoos

When it comes to tattoos for minors, there is a distinction between permanent and temporary tattoos. While permanent tattoos are not allowed for individuals under the age of 17, temporary tattoos are a popular alternative for younger individuals who want to express themselves creatively.

Temporary tattoos are typically made with non-permanent ink and can last for a few days or weeks. They are a great option for teenagers who want to experiment with different designs before committing to a permanent tattoo.

It’s important to note that even with temporary tattoos, it’s crucial to follow safe practices and ensure that the materials used are non-toxic and hypoallergenic.

For more information on tattoo laws and regulations in New York State, you can visit the official website of the New York State Department of Health:

Are There Any Exceptions for 17 Year Olds?

While the legal age to get a tattoo in New York is 18, there are certain exceptions for 17-year-olds. These exceptions include:

Emancipated Minors

If a 17-year-old is emancipated, meaning they have been legally granted adult status by a court, they may be able to get a tattoo without parental consent. Emancipation can occur through various means, such as marriage, joining the military, or obtaining a court order.

It’s important to note that the process of becoming emancipated can be complex and varies by state.

Military Service

In some cases, 17-year-olds who have enlisted in the military may be allowed to get a tattoo. The military may have its own regulations regarding tattoos, so it’s important for individuals to consult with their recruiters or superiors for specific guidelines.

Medical Procedures

Under certain circumstances, a 17-year-old may be allowed to get a tattoo if it is deemed a medical necessity. This could include procedures like reconstructive surgery or scar camouflage. However, these cases are rare and typically require the approval of a medical professional.

It’s worth noting that these exceptions are not guaranteed and may vary on a case-by-case basis. It’s always best to consult with legal professionals or relevant authorities to ensure compliance with the law.

What Should Parents Consider When Consenting?

When it comes to getting a tattoo at 17 in New York, there are several factors that parents should consider before giving their consent. It is important for parents to prioritize the health and safety of their child, as well as ensure they are going to a reputable tattoo shop and choosing an appropriate design and placement.

Health and Safety Risks

One of the main concerns parents should have is the potential health and safety risks associated with getting a tattoo. While tattooing is generally considered safe when done by a professional in a sterile environment, there are still risks involved.

These risks include infection, allergic reactions, and scarring. Parents should educate themselves and their child on the proper aftercare procedures to minimize these risks.

Reputable Tattoo Shops

Choosing a reputable tattoo shop is crucial to ensuring a safe and quality experience for your child. Parents should research and visit different tattoo shops to assess their cleanliness, professionalism, and reputation.

It is important to look for shops that follow strict sterilization practices, use disposable needles and ink, and have experienced artists. Reading online reviews and asking for recommendations from friends or family can also help in finding a reputable tattoo shop.

Appropriate Tattoo Design and Placement

Parents should also consider the appropriateness of the tattoo design and placement for their child. It is important to have open and honest conversations with your child about their desired design and placement.

Encourage them to think about the long-term implications of their tattoo, such as how it may affect their future career prospects or personal image. Parents can also provide guidance and suggestions to help their child choose a design that they will be happy with for years to come.

Furthermore, parents should be aware that there are certain restrictions on tattoo designs and placements for minors in New York. For example, tattoos on the face, neck, or hands are generally not allowed for individuals under the age of 18.

It is important to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure your child’s tattoo is within the legal boundaries.

Waiting Until 18 To Get a Tattoo

While it might be tempting to get a tattoo at the age of 17 in New York, it is important to consider the potential risks and implications. In New York, the legal age to get a tattoo without parental consent is 18. Waiting until you reach this age can have several benefits:

Use Time to Research Designs and Artists

One advantage of waiting until you turn 18 to get a tattoo is that it gives you time to thoroughly research different tattoo designs and artists. Take this opportunity to explore various styles, symbols, and meanings to find a design that truly reflects your personality and values.

Additionally, spend time finding a reputable and experienced tattoo artist who can bring your vision to life. Research online reviews and portfolios to ensure you choose someone who aligns with your aesthetic preferences and has a track record of delivering high-quality work.

Save Money

Another benefit of waiting until you are 18 is that it gives you time to save up money for your tattoo. Tattoos can be quite expensive, and saving money beforehand can allow you to get the tattoo you truly want without compromising on quality.

Use this time to set aside a portion of your income or consider taking up a part-time job to help fund your tattoo. By saving up, you can ensure that you have enough money to cover the cost of the tattoo as well as any additional expenses, such as aftercare products or touch-up sessions.

Make Sure Tattooing is the Right Choice

Getting a tattoo is a significant decision that should not be taken lightly. Waiting until you are 18 allows you to have more time to think about whether tattooing is the right choice for you. Consider your motivations behind wanting a tattoo and whether it aligns with your long-term goals and values.

It’s also important to carefully consider the potential consequences, such as the impact on future job prospects or personal relationships. Taking the time to reflect and evaluate your decision can help ensure that you are making an informed choice.

Remember, the legal age to get a tattoo without parental consent in New York is 18. By waiting until you reach this age, you can use the time to research designs and artists, save money, and make sure tattooing is the right choice for you.

It’s always better to be patient and well-prepared when it comes to decisions that have a permanent impact on your body.


Though teenagers often want tattoos before they are legally adults, New York law clearly prohibits anyone under 18 from being tattooed – even with parental approval. While anticipating their 18th birthday, minors can take time to carefully consider their tattoo decision and ensure they get quality, safe body art from a licensed professional.

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