You’re a minor and you want a tattoo, but everyone is telling you that you’re too young. In fact, your local tattoo artist says they can’t tattoo you because it’s illegal.
What if I told you that it isn’t illegal for you to get a tattoo? That’s right, even in Texas, minors can get tattoos in the right circumstances; however, that doesn’t make it a good idea.
“Minors” Aren’t Barred From Tattoos
Something you should understand first is that the law doesn’t bar minors from getting tattoos, instead, it bars tattooing a “person younger than 18 years of age.”
—See Client Qualifications, Disclosure, and Records—Tex. Admin. Code § 229.406(c)
—See Tattoos Prohibited for Certain Persons—Tex. Health & Safety Code § 146.012(a)(1)
The reason this matters is because a minor can seek emancipation to “remove the disabilities of minority,” but since the law doesn’t bar tattooing minors, emancipation does nothing.
Consent of Parent To Cover Existing Tattoo
If you have an existing tattoo, your parent or guardian can consent that it be covered with another tattoo, as long as they determine that it is in your best interest.
—See Client Qualifications, Disclosure, and Records—Tex. Admin. Code § 229.406(d)
—See Tattoos Prohibited for Certain Persons—Tex. Health & Safety Code § 146.012(a-1)(1)(d)
However, the existing tattoo must contain 1) obscene or offensive language or symbols; 2) gang-related names, symbols, or markings; 3) drug-related names, symbols, or pictures; or 4) some other type of words, symbols, or markings that the parent, guardian, or a court considers would be in the best interest of the minor to cover.
—See Client Qualifications, Disclosure, and Records—Tex. Admin. Code § 229.406(d)(1)
—See Tattoos Prohibited for Certain Persons—Tex. Health & Safety Code § 146.012(a-1)(1)
Therefore, under the law, you must already have a tattoo to get a tattoo. Basically, you have to get a homemade illegal/obscene tattoo, and convince your parent that it is in your best interest that it be covered in order to get a legal tattoo to cover it up.
How Your Parent Can Consent
Let’s just presume that you have a tattoo, and your parent has given consent to get it covered. How’s a tattoo artist supposed to know that your parent has consented? Tattoo Artists aren’t going to risk going to jail without covering their bases.
In order to prove that your parent consents, your parent must provide a lot of evidence to the tattoo artist. The parent must:
1. be physically present at the time the tattoo is being performed,
2. execute an affidavit stating that the person is your parent or guardian,
3. present evidence of your identity to the tattoo artist,
4. present evidence of their status as your parent or guardian,
5. supply the tattoo artist with a written detailed description or photograph of the tattoo to be covered, which will be kept with the artist’s permanent records, AND
6. provide the tattoo artist with the full name, address, and telephone number of your parent or guardian
—See Client Qualifications, Disclosure, and Records—Tex. Admin. Code § 229.406(d)(2)
—See Tattoos Prohibited for Certain Persons—Tex. Health & Safety Code § 146.012(b)
Illegal to Lie to Tattoo Artist
In case you’ve considered lying about your age to a tattoo artist in order to get a tattoo, DON’T! If a person under the age of 18 represents falsely that the person is 18 years of age or older, or presents any document that indicates that the person is 18 years of age or older, to a person operating a tattoo studio, then that person commits a Class B Misdemeanor.
—See Tattoos Prohibited for Certain Persons—Tex. Health & Safety Code § 146.012(c)
A Class B Misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000.00, confinement in jail for up to 180 days, or both fine and confinement.
—See Class B Misdemeanor—T ex. Pen. Code § 12.22
Now that you know the law, next you should consider whether or not you should get a tattoo as a minor. Even if you already have a tattoo, that doesn’t mean that you should hurry out to get it covered now. There will be plenty of time later to get it covered, so take your time.
Getting a tattoo is a permanent, and adult, decision. When making adult decisions, you need to remember that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should.
This article is meant to provide information on our laws, not to encourage you to go out and get a homemade tattoo just to convince your parent to let you get it covered up. So, please don’t send me hate-mail JUST for educating people on on the law.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479