New York State Tattoo Laws in 2023 (Age, Fines & More)

New York doesn’t really need much of an introduction. Not without a reason, it’s a much-desired place to live not only for people across the US but also from all around the world.

It’s a city that has something for everyone, from those who love the fast-paced life to those who enjoy taking things slow.

The Empire State, as it’s commonly known, is also a hotspot of ridiculously talented tattoo artists. While getting a tattoo in New York used to be somewhat of a taboo, it’s now more popular than ever.

In recent years, the number of people getting tattoos in New York has increased dramatically. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, about 36% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.

This number is even higher in New York, where it’s estimated that close to 50% of people in this age group have tattoos.

With such a high percentage of people getting inked, you might be wondering about the current tattoo laws in New York. Wonder no more as we look into them in great detail below.

New York Tattoo Laws & Regulations

With the exception of Maryland and Nevada, all states in the US regulate the body art industry (that also includes piercing).

The state of New York isn’t any different.

In fact, it has separate laws for customers and artists to protract their rights and responsibilities.

In this section, we’ll take a look at both of them in detail.

Tattoo Laws for Customers

As far as laws for clients are concerned, most states focus on the minimum age requirement.

New York belongs to that group.

So, what is the legal age to get a tattoo in New York?

In the state of New York, you must be at least 18 years old to get a tattoo. What’s worth noting, a lion’s share of regions in the US allows minors to get inked if a parental consent form is provided.

So now you might be wondering; can I get a tattoo at 17 in New York?

Unfortunately, no.

The New York State tattoo law states clearly that a person under the age of 18 is not allowed to get a tattoo, regardless of whether they have parental consent or not.

Now that we’ve established the age limit, is there anything else you should be aware of?

Not really.

While some states also regulate the allowed placement of tattoos (eg. Georgia prohibits tattooing within an inch of the eye socket), New York isn’t one of them.

So, as long as you’re of age, you can get a tattoo pretty much anywhere on your body.

Tattoo Laws for Artists

The New York tattoo laws also include regulations for tattoo artists and studios.

What’s quite interesting, it was illegal to tattoo someone in New York City until as recently as 1997.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that all tattoo artists in New York must be licensed.

In order to obtain a license, they must pass an exam administered by the Department of Health. The test covers both sanitation and safety procedures as well as knowledge of state law.

What’s important, it’s the artist who will be held responsible if they fail to comply with the age law.

This means that if they tattoo someone who’s under 18 years of age, they will be committing a class B misdemeanor. If convicted, they may face up to 3 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. A license can be suspended or revoked as well.

Another important regulation imposed by the state is that all tattoo studios must be registered and inspected by the Department of Health.

The inspection includes making sure that the studio meets all the requirements in terms of sanitation and safety.

If a studio is found to be in violation, the Department of Health can shut it down immediately.

What about artists’ laws?

All tattoo artists operating in the state of New York are allowed to refuse service to anyone for any reason. This means you can expect to hear “no” if your tattoo design is offensive, you’re highly intoxicated or the artist doesn’t feel comfortable tattooing this particular area of the body.

However, they can’t discriminate against someone based on their race, religion, gender, or national origin.


As discussed, the tattoo laws in New York are pretty straightforward.

The minimum age requirement is 18 and all studios must be registered and inspected by the Department of Health.

Tattoo artists also have to be licensed and they can refuse service to anyone for any reason except for those protected under state or federal discrimination laws.

Now that you know all there is to know about the New York tattoo laws, you can go ahead and get inked without any worries! Just make sure to choose a reputable artist and studio to avoid any complications.

The information on which the article is based has been sourced from official websites of: