VIC: When can I get a tattoo, piercing or other body modification?
|Tattoos: you can only get a tattoo if you are over 18.
Piercings: if you’re between 10 and 16, you can only get a piercing if you have permission from your parents BUT if you want a piercing in a private place (like your genitals or nipples), you have to wait till you’re 18.
Other body marks: branding beading, tongue splitting and scarification - you can only do this if you’re over 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 before getting anything done
Watch out for infections! Remember to protect yourself from diseases by going to a parlour with someone who is trained and hygienic!
In Victoria you need to be 18 to get a tattoo. It’s against the law for someone to tattoo you if you are under 18.
You need to be 16 to get most piercings in Victoria. If you’re between 10 and 16 and want a normal piercing (not in a private place), both you and your parent must give written permission. The note will need to explain how many piercings and where the work going to be on your body. 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, or even sign a statutory declaration (a legal document). You may want to call the tattooist or parlour you are thinking of using and ask what their specific policy is.
If it’s a piercing on your genitals, anal area or nipples, you have to wait until you’re 18 and you can’t get this done before then even with your parent’s permission.
Scarification, branding, tongue splitting and beading
You need to be 18 to have any mark other than a tattoo or piercing, including scarification, branding, tongue splitting or beading.
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,you may need to take some option within 21 days of being dismissed, so don't delay.
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.
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
- 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 and piercing parlours in Victoria have to be registered with their local council, so it’s a good idea to ask to see the licence before you get anything done.
You are welcome to copy and use this fact sheet.
This page was last updated on 19 September 2014.