Tattoos and Piercings


NSW: When can I get a tattoo or body piercing?



In New South Wales the legal age to get a tattoo without a parent's permission is 18.

If you are under 18 you need your parent’s permission. The permission must state the type of tattoo and the position on your body where the tattoo will be done. Your parent can give their permission in person or in writing. Without this permission it is a criminal offence for someone to tattoo you or make a permanent mark or design on your skin.


Scarification, Branding and Beading

You must also be 18 to have any other mark made on your skin such as branding, scarification or beading unless you have parental permission. The permission must include the type of marking to be done and its location on your body.


Body Piercing


Non-intimate body piercing

A non-intimate body piercing is a piercing of any part of your body that isn't your genitals or nipples. Genitals mean the anus, scrotum, penis and vagina.

If you are under 16 you need the permission of a parent to have a non-intimate piercing. Your parent can give their permission in person by going with you or in writing (this must say what part of your body is to be pierced).

If you are over 16 you can get a non-intimate body piercing without parental permission.  


Intimate body piercing

An intimate body piercing is a piercing of the nipples or genitals.

If you are under 16 a body piercer is not allowed to give you an intimate body piercing even if you or your parent gives permission for it.


Before you get a Tattoo, Branding or Piercing

It is important to be sure that you want a tattoo or other skin marking for the rest of your life as it is permanent. Also, a piercing may leave scars or holes long after you stop wearing the jewellery.

There is a risk that you can get a disease like Hepatitis C or B, HIV or a bacterial infection. It is always best to go to a professional tattoo artist and to make sure that the tattoo studio is safe and hygienic and all tools sterilised. Don't get a 'backyard' or 'tattoo party' tattoo - the risk is just too great!

Because of the permanence of tattoos, scars, brands, beads and the sensitivities around piercings, many tattooists or body piercers will not do this work on anyone under 18, or may require proof of age and even the signing of a statutory declaration (a legal document) in addition to legally correct parental permission before doing any work on a young person they suspect might be under 18.

The content on this page was last updated on 15 June 2012

You are welcome to copy and use this fact sheet. 


  Insert text regarding ALL STATES here.
  You can choose to insert either:
     · Content that directly applies to ALL STATES of Australia.
     · A footnote that will be seen below the existing content of each state.