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

It’s no wonder the state of Illinois has a strong pull for many US citizens and foreigners alike. From the shores of Lake Michigan to the banks of the Mississippi River, there’s a lot to see and do in this Midwestern state.

Firstly, Chicago, the state’s largest city, is a major destination for many travelers. The “Windy City” has world-renowned museums, like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. And if you’re a fan of sports, you can catch a game of the Chicago Cubs or the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field or US Cellular Field.

Illinois is also known to be home to some of the most talented tattoo artists on the whole continent. So, if you’re in the market for some new ink, this is definitely the place to be.

Keep in mind, however, that akin to all states in the US, tattoos are regulated. So, before you decide to visit a tattoo parlor in the state, stick with us for a minute. In this article, we will look at the current tattoo laws in Illinois.

Illinois Tattoo Laws & Regulations

The regulations on tattoos are separate for clients and tattoo artists. This is the same across all states that have chosen to legalize tattooing.

Tattoo Laws for Customers

The customer laws are mostly related to age. And when it comes to these, Illinois has one of if not the strictest age limits in the country.

Illinois tattoo laws for minors are the following: you must be 18 years of age or older to get a tattoo in Illinois. And, unlike in the vast majority of states, there is no legal way around this. So, if you’re not yet 18 years old, you will have to wait. Other regions (eg. Florida, Hawaii or Idaho), accept a written parental consent form if the minor hasn’t hit the magic number “18” yet.

Not only the state of Illinois doesn’t care about parental consent but it also considers it a crime to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 to be on the premises of a tattoo parlor. So, if you’re thinking about getting your 17-year-old cousin to sneak you into a tattoo shop, think again. It’s not only illegal but also dangerous as the shop risks being shut down and the artist losing their license.

What’s interesting, a breach in this aspect doesn’t result in persecution of the client but of the artist.

Tattoo Laws for Artists

Continuing from the previous section, it’s worth noting that the tattoo artist is entirely responsible for verifying the age of their client. And, in case they fail to do so, they are the ones who will face the legal consequences, such as a fine or even a short jail term.

The age limit is not the only regulation that tattoo artists in Illinois have to comply with. In order to perform the procedure of tattooing, an artist in Illinois has to have a valid license.

On top of that, he’s required to:

  • maintain a clean and sterile environment
  • use single-use needles and disposable equipment
  • sterilize all their equipment
  • use gloves when tattooing

Failure to comply with any of the above can result in a loss of license as well as a fine.

Naturally, the tattoo shop needs to be licensed as well. Tattooing from home or any other unlicensed premises is strictly forbidden by law.

What’s worth noting, the tattoo artist is allowed to decline a tattoo on some grounds. For example, he might not feel comfortable tattooing a particular body part or might find the tattoo design offensive.

The bottom line is that, as long as you find a reputable tattoo shop and artist, you shouldn’t have any problems getting inked in Illinois. But, before you go ahead and make an appointment, make sure to double-check that both the shop and the artist are indeed licensed.

And, if you’re not yet 18 years old, we advise you to wait a bit longer. Trust us, it’s worth it.


All the above information on the tattoo laws in Illinois is based on official sources: