Tattoos and Piercings


When can I get a tattoo or body piercing?



In South Australia the legal age to get a tattoo  is 18. If you are under 18 it is a criminal offence for someone to tattoo you.


Body Piercing

There is no law which says how old you have to be to get body piercing in SA. If you are under 18 though it will depend on whether you are able to give valid consent.


When can I give my consent?

There is no fixed age at which you can consent before you turn 18. It always depends on whether the piercer thinks you fully understand what is involved. In deciding whether or not you understand the piercer will need to consider:

  •  your age and maturity;
  • the type of piercings and where you want them
  • whether you understand the long term impact of the piercing, what it involves, and things that might go wrong (like side-effects from infections, or other complications).

In practice, piercing studios may still require parental permission.


Before you get a Tattoo 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.

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