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

Many folks are considering moving or traveling to the state of Massachusetts for a variety of reasons.

Some people are looking for work, others want to be closer to family, and still, others are just looking for a change of scenery. Whatever the reason, there are a few things you should know about Massachusetts before making the move.

  • The cost of living in Massachusetts is high. If you’re used to living in a cheaper state, be prepared for sticker shock when it comes to housing, food, and other essentials
  • The weather in Massachusetts can be brutal. If you’re not a fan of cold winters and hot summers, this may not be the state for you.
  • The city is jam-packed with incredibly talented tattoo artists and affordable tattoo parlors

Considering the last point, it’s no wonder, then, that the state is a popular destination for many tattoo enthusiasts.

Be that as it may, it’s worth noting that it has some regulations on tattooing that mean not everyone is eligible to get inked.

If you’ve been considering getting your work done in the state, stick with us for a couple of minutes as we dive into the latest tattoo laws in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Tattoo Laws & Regulations

Massachusetts isn’t any different from other US states in that it has a set of rules both for the customers and those performing the tattooing procedures.

Let’s first look into the rules for clients.

Laws for Customers

Like in the vast majority of regions, the tattoo laws for clients regulate the minimum age requirement.

In this sense, Massachusetts is one of the strictest states around.

So what are Massachusetts’ tattoo laws for minors?

The state doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 18 to get a tattoo, regardless of parental consent.

In other words, if you’re not yet an adult in the eyes of the law, you’ll have to wait a few years before getting your first tattoo.

There are some states that allow 16-to-17-year-olds to get tattoos with parental permission (eg. Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware), but this isn’t the case in Massachusetts. Not even a presence of a parent or legal guardian during the procedure changes anything.

So, if you’re not 18 yet and you really want to get a tattoo, your only option is to wait or travel to another state.

When it comes to the placement of tattoos, there are no regulations in Massachusetts as of yet.

What’s interesting, in the case of a minor getting a tattoo and thus breaking the law, the only party that will be in trouble for this is the artist. The minor will not face any penalties.

Now that we know what the customers need to take into account, let’s see what the rules for tattoo artists are.

Laws for Tattoo Artists

Continuing from the previous point, the tattoo artist will be the only one penalized if he breaks the law by tattooing a minor. Such an offense can be penalized with a fine of a maximum of $500 and/or a jail sentence of up to 1 year (this is rarely the case, however).

In order to operate a tattoo parlor in Massachusetts, an artist must have a valid license as well as work from a licensed shop. Performing the procedure from home or any other non-licensed location is strictly forbidden and can also lead to a fine or even the revoking of the license.

It’s also important to note that in Massachusetts, it’s obligatory for the shop to maintain certain sanitary standards. The Department of Health regularly inspects the premises and makes sure that everything is up to code. Certain sanitization procedures must be followed before and after each tattooing session. These include:

  • washing hands with antimicrobial soap
  • using new, sterile needles for each customer
  • disinfecting the work area before starting the procedure
  • using new, sterile gloves for each customer

Of course, the artist also has some rights. For example, he can refuse to tattoo a person for a few reasons:

  • if the person is intoxicated
  • if the person appears to be under the influence of drugs
  • if the person doesn’t have identification proving that he’s of legal age
  • the tattoo design is offensive
  • the placement of the tattoo doesn’t sit right with the artist

What’s worth noting, the state of Massachusetts has a pretty troubled history when it comes to tattoos.

It was only as recently as 2000 that the state allowed only qualified physicians to perform tattooing (something South Korea does to this day) as it considered tattoos a “crime against the person”. This has changed with the Superior Court ruling that branded the law unconstitutional in October 2020, as a reason citing that tattoos are protected by the First Amendment just as much as paintings or engravings.

Conclusion & References

Concluding, the tattoo laws in Massachusetts are pretty strict, especially when it comes to the age limit. If you’re not yet 18, you’ll have to wait a few years before getting inked.

When it comes to the artists, they need to be licensed and work from a licensed shop. There are also certain sanitary procedures that must be followed before and after each tattooing session.

All the information collected in the article is based on official sources: