WA: When can I get a tattoo, body piercing or other mark?
Tattoos: if you’re under 18, you can only get a tattoo if you have written permission from your parent.
Piercings: If you’re 16 or over, you can get your ears pierced. For other non-private piercings, you have to be 18 or need permission from your parents. For private piercings, (like on your genitals or nipples), you have to wait till you’re 18.
Branding, beading or other marks: if you’re under 18, you can only do this if you have written permission from your parent.
Getting permission: your parent can only give permission in writing. It has to explain the style of the mark and where on your body you will get it.
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 parlour with someone who is trained and hygienic!
In Western Australia you need to be 18 to get a tattoo.
If you are under 18, you’ll need your parent’s written permission. It’s against the law for someone to tattoo you without your parent’s written permission.
You can get your ears pierced when you are 16. For other piercings which aren't in private places, you need to be 18 or else have your parent's written permission.
If it’s a piercing in a private place like 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.
You need to be 18 to have any mark made on your skin including branding. If you’re under 18, you’ll need your parent’s written permission.
If you're under 18, you'll need your parent's written permission to get a tattoo, a piercing other than on your ears, or a branding. The note must explain the type of tattoo/mark/piercing and where it’s going to be on your body. Remember, for piercings in private places, it doesn't matter if you have permission - you have to wait until you're 18 anyway.
Also, even if you do get permission from a parent, some tattooists and body piercers will not give you a tattoo or 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.
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.
- 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 in Western Australia have to follow the Code of Practice for Skin Penetration Procedures (a set of rules about skin procedures) so it’s a good idea to make sure the place is doing so before getting anything done.
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.
This page was last updated on 19 September 2014.