North Carolina Tattoo Laws in 2023 (Age, Fines & More)

There are quite a few reasons for which people love North Carolina.

The state has something in store for everyone – be it the beaches, the mountains, or the city life.

Also, North Carolina has many advantages when it comes to tattoos and body art. The state’s mild climate means that people can show off their ink all year round, and there are a number of excellent tattoo shops to choose from.

The selection of ridiculously talented tattoo artists is also a huge incentive.

However, there are also a few things to keep in mind when getting a tattoo in North Carolina. Like all states in the US, there are some regulations that need to be followed and not everyone can get inked or work as an artist.

If you’ve been considering getting your work done in the Old North State, as it’s commonly known, continue reading as we dive into the latest tattoo laws in North Carolina.

North Carolina Tattoo Laws & Regulations

As already mentioned, the states in the US regulating the body art industry are pretty much the norm.

There are only two exceptions to this rule – Maryland and Nevada. These two states do not have any specific laws or regulations surrounding the industry.

In North Carolina, however, things are a bit different. The state does have some specific laws and regulations in place, which we will outline below.

Laws for Customers

When it comes to laws for clients, most of them regulate the minimum age requirement.

In this sense, North Carolina isn’t any different. The state law says that the legal age to get inked in NC is 18 years old.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

So maybe you’re wondering: can a 17-year-old get a tattoo in NC?

Unfortunately, no.

In most states, if a parent or legal guardian provides written consent, then the minor can get a tattoo. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case with North Carolina as it belongs to the group of states like Iowa, Illinois or New York in which tattooing anyone under the age of 18 is completely forbidden, with no exceptions.

If you’re desperate to get a tattoo but haven’t hit the magic number “18” yet, you can travel to nearby states like Tennessee or Virginia. These states make tattooing possible – as long as you can provide the parental consent form.

As far as the placement of tattoos is concerned, North Carolina has no specific laws.

Again, this is in contrast to some stricter regions. For example, in the state of Georgia, you can’t get a tattoo within an inch of your eye socket.

Laws for Artists

The laws for tattoo artists in North Carolina are a bit more complex. Let’s take a look at the most important ones.

First and foremost, all artists must have a valid license from the state.

To obtain this license, they must complete an accredited body art training program as well as pass a written exam administered by the state.

Naturally, all tattoo shops operating in NC must also be licensed.

To get a license, the shop must pass an inspection from the local health department to ensure that it meets all the necessary sanitation requirements, such as:

  • having a separate area for tattooing and body piercing
  • using single-use needles and disposable gloves
  • sterilizing all equipment

What’s definitely worth pointing out, it’s the artist who will be held responsible in case a minor gets inked without parental consent – not the shop or the client.

So, if you’re a working artist in NC, make sure you always check for ID! Otherwise, you’re committing a class 2 misdemeanor, risking a fine of up to $1,000, suspension of your license, or even a 2-month jail term.

What are the artists’ rights, then?

Well, naturally, the artist is allowed to refuse service to anyone, for any reason – as long as this reason isn’t based on discriminatory grounds such as race, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.

It’s not uncommon for artists to decline a tattoo if it goes against their moral compass (eg. it’s offensive or the placement of the tattoo doesn’t sit right).


So, there you have it – everything you need to know about the tattoo laws in North Carolina.

Just remember to bring your ID if you’re planning on getting inked, and don’t forget that the minimum age requirement is 18 years old. Other than that, have fun and enjoy your new tattoo!

The information in the article is sourced from official websites of: