California Tattoo Laws in 2023 (Age, Fines & More)

The number of reasons for which people love the state of California is endless. For starters, the state is home to some of the most varied and unique landscapes in the country. From the towering redwoods of the north to the sunny beaches of the south, there’s something for everyone in California.

In addition to its natural beauty, California is also home to a vibrant cultural scene. Thanks to its large and diverse population, the state is home to a wide variety of arts and entertainment options. Whether you’re interested in the latest Hollywood blockbusters or independent films, you’ll be sure to find something to your taste in California.

Lastly, we shouldn’t forget about the spectacular amount of talent when it comes to the tattooing scene. Some of the most skilled and innovative tattoo artists in the world call California home.

However, like other parts of the United States, California has its own regulations on tattooing and not everyone is legally permitted to get inked. If you’re considering getting your first (or next) tattoo in California, continue reading. In this article, we will look at the current tattoo laws in California to make sure you get the job done legally.

California Tattoo Laws – Essential Information

California’s regulations on tattoos apply to both the clients and the artists.

Tattoo Laws for Clients

The state of California has some of the strictest tattoo regulations for clients which means that no one under the age of 18 is legally allowed to get a tattoo. This is regardless of whether they have parental consent or not. It’s in great contrast to the majority of other states who allow minors to get inked just with parental consent or with the consent and the presence of the legal guardian during the session.

The only exception to this rule is if the minor in question is getting their tattoo for medical reasons. In these cases, a licensed physician must be present during the tattooing process.

Under California law, a person who is of legal age must read, complete, and sign an informed consent form that includes information such as a description of the procedure and a declaration about the permanent nature of body art.

If you’re not a minor, then you’re free to get tattooed in California as long as the artist is licensed and working in a regulated studio.

Tattoo Laws for Artists

In order to operate legally, tattoo artists in California must be licensed by the state.

Standards for sterilization, sanitation, and safety for tattooing, body piercing, and permanent cosmetics professionals also need to be met (as in California Health & Safety Code § 119300 to 11932).

For the tattooing procedure to be performed legally, it needs to take place in a licensed tattoo studio that abides by the state’s rules and regulations.

The artist must also follow specific guidelines when it comes to the inking process itself such as only using sterile needles and properly disposing of all blood and body fluids.

A tattoo artist performing the procedure in California is allowed to refuse the job if:

  • the design goes against his moral compass (eg. it is racist or politically incorrect)
  • he feels uncomfortable tattooing the body part (eg. genitals)
  • he suspects the client is intoxicated


The above information on California tattoo laws was sourced from: