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Tattoos and Piercings

SA: When can I get a tattoo, piercing or other body modification?

Tattoos and branding, beading and scarring: if you’re under 18, you can’t get a tattoo or get a branding, beading or scarring. 

Most piercings: if you’re under 16, you can only get a piercing if you have permission from your parents.

Piercings in private places: if you want a piercing in a private place (like your genitals or nipples), you have to wait till you’re 18.

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!


In South Australia you need to be 18 to get a tattoo. It is against the law for someone to tattoo you if you’re under 18.  It doesn't matter if you have your parent's permission.

Scarification, branding, beading, stretching, tongue Splitting and implantation

You need to be 18 to have any mark made on your skin, including branding, scarification or beading.  It doesn't matter if you have your parent's permission.

Body piercings (not in a private area)

You need to be 16 to get most piercings in South Australia. If you’re under 16 and want a normal piercing (not in a private place), you’ll need your parent’s permission either in person or in writing. If you’re getting written permission, your parent’s note must explain the type of body piercing and where it’s going to be on your body. For written permission, you will also have to complete a statutory declaration (a formal legal document saying that you are telling the truth).

Also, even if you do get permission from a parent, some body piercers will not give you a piercing if you’re under 18, and others may ask you to show proof of your age.    You may want to call the parlour you are thinking of using and ask what their specific policy is.

Body piercings (in a private area)

You need to be 18 to get a piercing in a private area – this means your genitals, anal region, perineum, nipples or uvula. You can’t get this done even with your parent’s permission.  

Giving your agreement

In South Australia, no matter how old you are, you must enter into a written agreement with the person who is giving you a tattoo, piercing or other body mark.  The agreement must contain information about the nature of the procedure, and the manner in which it is to be carried out. It must also contain information about how to care for the area of your body where you get the procedure done.

Having a tattoo, 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.  These rules are legal as long as they are not unreasonable or discriminatory.    

Workers in Australia are protected by unfair dismissal laws. If you are dismissed only because you have a tattoo or piercing and this has never been discussed with you or addressed in your employment contract then this may be considered unfair dismissal.  If this has happened to you, please send us a Lawmail for more information on your options. You may need to take some option within 21 days of being dismissed, so don't delay - send us a Lawmail today!

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, send us a Lawmail.

Before you get a Tattoo, Branding or Piercing

  • Think ahead - 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.
  • Ouch - piercings can leave scars or holes long after you stop wearing the jewellery – Ouch
  • Staying safe - when you get a tattoo or piercing, there is always a risk that you can get a 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 make sure that the tattoo studio is safe and hygienic and that all tools are sterilised. Don't get a 'backyard' or 'tattoo party' tattoo - the risk is just too great!   All tattoo parlours and piercing studios in South Australia should comply with the Guidelines for Safe and Hygienic Skin Penetration.

If you have any questions about getting a tattoo, piercing or other body modification, please send us a Lawmail.

You are welcome to copy and use this fact sheet.

The content on this page was last updated on 22 September 2014.