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

There are many reasons for which people appreciate the state of Tennessee.

Not only is it home to some of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, such as Graceland and the Great Smoky Mountains, but it also offers a wide variety of activities and amenities that make it a great place to live. In addition to its many natural features, Tennessee also boasts a thriving economy and a diverse population.

Last but not least, “The Volunteer State”, as it’s often referred to, is home to a huge number of excellent tattoo artists, making it a popular destination for those looking to get inked.

Like most other US states, however, Tennessee does have certain laws and regulations in place regarding tattoos. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important things you need to know about tattooing in Tennessee.

If you’re thinking about getting inked or starting work as an artist, stick with us for a few minutes as we dive into the latest Tennessee tattoo laws for clients and artists.

Tennessee Tattoo Laws & Regulations

The fact that Tennessee has separate rules for clients and artists doesn’t make the state special in any way – it’s actually the norm across the country, although there are some exceptions to the rule (eg. Maryland, Massachusetts, and Nevada don’t regulate the industry).

Laws for Clients

Rules for customers mostly apply to age limits.

So, how old do you have to be to get a tattoo in Tennessee?

In this field, Tennessee has quite strict regulations: minors (under the age of 18) are prohibited from getting tattoos.

But are there any exceptions to this rule?

The only one is if the minor is 16 years of age or older and has written parental consent. The document must be notarized, and both the parent/legal guardian and the tattoo artist must sign it. Also, it’s important to note that in such a case the procedure can go ahead only if the new tattoo will be made to cover an existing one that is no longer wanted.

As far as the placement of the tattoo is concerned, the state has no regulations in place – it’s up to the artist to decide whether they want to tattoo a given area or not.

Laws for Artists

It’s important to open this section by stating that, in case the law is broken and a minor does get tattooed without parental consent, it’s the artist who will be held accountable, not the child or their parents.

And in Tennessee, that’s quite a serious offense carrying a hefty fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to 1 year behind the bars. In other words, you don’t want to mess with the tattoo law in this state.

Only artists with a current and valid license are legally allowed to perform tattooing procedures in Tennessee. The only place allowed to perform the tattooing is the shop/studio where the artist works – it’s not allowed to do it in any other location, such as a house, a hotel room, or even outside.

Furthermore, all studios must be registered with the county clerk and must comply with certain sanitary regulations put in place by the state, such as the use of disposable needles, single-use gloves, and so on.

Artists are naturally allowed freedom of choice when it comes to the designs they want to tattoo on their clients, as well as body parts they’re willing to work on.

An artist is also permitted to refuse tattooing a customer for any reason – it doesn’t have to be a valid one, and the customer can’t do anything about it.

However, refusing to tattoo someone based on their race, religion, or any other protected characteristic is illegal and punishable by law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have settled all the basics, let’s move on to some frequently asked questions about Tennessee tattoo laws.

Can you get a tattoo in Tennessee?

Yes, tattoos are 100% legal in Tennessee.

What is the youngest age you can get a tattoo in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, you must be at least 18 years old to get a tattoo. The only exception is if you’re 16 or older and have written parental consent – in that case, the procedure can go ahead as long as it’s to cover an existing tattoo that is no longer wanted.

Can I get a tattoo at 16 with parental consent?

Yes but only if the tattoo is to cover an existing one that you want to get rid of.

What states can you get a tattoo at 16 near Tennessee?

With the exception of North Carolina and Mississippi, all neighboring states allow for tattooing minors aged 16 – as long as they can provide a parental consent form. That means you can get inked if you’re 16 in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia.

Is it illegal to tattoo at home in Tennessee?

Yes, it is. Only licensed artists are allowed to perform tattooing procedures in the state of Tennessee, and they can only do so in their registered studio.

How do I get a tattoo license in Tennessee?

Apply in person at your local Department of Health to take the Tennessee tattoo exam. You can request the Tattoo Apprentice application after you have a passing grade. Fill out the form, then pay the $140 cost. That’s it!

Is it illegal to give yourself a tattoo?

No, it’s not. You are perfectly within your rights to give yourself a tattoo in Tennessee – as long as you’re an adult with the required license.

Where are tattoos illegal?

As of now, all states in the US allow for tattoos – although most have the industry regulated in some way or another.

Can teachers have tattoos in Tennessee?

Yes, they can. There is no law in Tennessee that prohibits people with tattoos from working as teachers.

When should you not get a tattoo?

There are certain times when getting a tattoo is not recommended, such as when you’re pregnant, have a skin condition, or are taking certain medications. It’s always best to consult with your doctor before getting inked.

Some professions, such as flight attendants, may have restrictions on visible tattoos. It’s always best to check with your employer before getting a tattoo that may be visible while you’re working.

In general, it’s best to wait until you’re sure you want a tattoo before getting one – as they are permanent and can be difficult (and expensive) to remove.

How much do tattoos cost?

The cost of a tattoo will vary depending on the artist, the size and complexity of the design, and where on your body you want it. In general, smaller tattoos will start at around $50, while larger ones can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Conclusion & References

As you can see, there are a few things to keep in mind when getting a tattoo in Tennessee. But as long as you’re of legal age and have the required parental consent (if you’re under 18), you should be good to go!

Just make sure to do your research and choose a reputable artist – after all, this is a permanent decision.

All the information included in the article has been based on official sources which include: