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

There are many good sides to living or traveling to Virginia.

The state has much to offer in the way of history, culture, and natural beauty. Virginia is also a great place to live if you’re looking for a lower cost of living than some of the other states on the East Coast.

Also, what’s clearly noticeable in the last 2 decades, the state has been enjoying a real raise of the tattoo industry. Nowadays, it’s not rare to see people with several tattoos and even entire sleeves. It seems like the body art scene is flourishing in the state!

But what are the Virginia tattoo laws? Can literally everyone get inked or start a new career as a tattoo artist? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the things you need to know before getting touchy with the tattoo industry in the Old Dominion State.

Virginia Tattoo Laws & Regulations

The fact that the body art/tattoo industry is regulated in Virginia doesn’t make the state special in any way. Outwith few exceptions (eg. Maryland or Nevada), all US states have some regulations in place.

Also, most have separate rules for clients and artists/studios. Let’s look into both now.

Laws for Clients

When it comes to tattoo rules for clients in the US, they mostly relate to the minimum age. In this sense, Virginia is no different than most other states.

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

The old Dominion State requires that all people looking to get tattooed must be at least 18 years old.

With that said, the Virginia tattoo laws for minors allow for exceptions to that rule. A person who hasn’t hit that magic number “18” yet but is determined to get the ink job done can do so if he or she is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The list of states that have the same or similar minor tattoo laws is quite lengthy and includes, amongst others, Arizona, Arkansas and Illinois.

As for the allowed placement of tattoos, there are no specific rules in Virginia. That means you can get any part of your body inked without hassle – as long as the artist is up for it.

Laws for Artists

The list of requirements for those who want to set up a tattoo shop in Virginia or become professional tattoo artists is a bit longer than the one for clients.

But because of the seriousness of the issue of tattooing a minor, it’s only fair to start this section by stating that in case a person under 18 gets inked without the presence of a parent or guardian, it’s solely the artist that will find himself in trouble. And by trouble, we really mean that. Tattooing a minor in Virginia is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. The artist responsible for the ink job can get up to 6 months in jail and/or be fined up to $2,500.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look into other aspects of the Virginia tattoo laws for artists.

First and foremost, only licensed professionals are allowed to operate tattoo shops and offer their services in the Old Dominion State. The good news is that getting a tattoo license in Virginia isn’t overly complicated.

The two most important requirements are as follows:

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old
  • He or she must complete an approved body art course (bloodborne pathogens, infection control, etc.)

Naturally, all tattoo parlors in Virginia must also comply with the state’s general business regulations.

Last but not least, all studios must be equipped with specific sterilization devices and maintain high levels of cleanliness at all times. Some of the most important sterilization requirements in Virginia are as follows:

  • All needles and other sharp objects must be properly sterilized before each use
  • Disposable gloves must be worn at all times
  • Non-disposable equipment must be properly sanitized after each use
  • The work area must be kept clean at all times

As for artists and studios’ rights, a client might be declined service if he or she is intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or can’t provide proper identification.

Additionally, a tattoo artist can refuse to ink a client if he or she doesn’t like the design for whatever reason (eg. he or she might find it offensive or doesn’t feel comfortable tattooing a particular body area).

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have settled all the basics, let’s look into some of the most frequently asked questions about Virginia tattoo laws.

At what age can you get a tattoo with parental consent?

Most states, including Virginia, don’t specify an age limit for getting a tattoo with parental consent.

However, because each studio can set its own rules, it’s always best to call ahead and ask if they’re willing to make an exception in your case.

Can a 12-year-old get a tattoo in Virginia?

While there’s no specific law indicating the minimum age for getting a tattoo in Virginia with parental consent, many artists will be uncomfortable with tattooing kids as young as 12 and require that the child is at least 16 years old.

So, unless you manage to find a studio or artist willing to make an exception, your best bet would be to wait a few more years.

Can a 13-year-old get a tattoo in Virginia?

The same principles apply here as with a 12-year-old getting a tattoo.

While there’s technically nothing stopping you from doing it, most artists will flat out refuse to tattoo someone so young.

In what states can a 13-year-old get a tattoo?

Many states that allow for tattooing a minor with parental consent and/or the presence of a parent or legal guardian don’t have the minimum age requirement regulated. Again, however, many artists will still refuse to tattoo anyone that young.

Can you get a tattoo at 14 in West Virginia?

West Virginia has exactly the same laws as Virginia when it comes to tattooing minors so, at least technically, you’re good to go with parental consent.

Can a 15-year-old get a tattoo in Virginia?

You definitely have a bigger chance of finding a tattoo artist willing to ink a 15-year-old than someone younger but, as always, it will ultimately come down to the artist’s discretion.

With that said, getting a tattoo at 15 is still a pretty big decision and we recommend that you wait a few more years before making it.

Can you get a tattoo at 16 in Virginia?

Yes, at that age most artists will already be more than happy to tattoo you as long as you have parental consent and/or the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

Can you get a tattoo at 17 in Virginia?

The answer is the same as for a 16-year-old getting a tattoo in Virginia.

What is the best Virginia tattoo school?

You can find the list of licensed tattoo schools in Virginia here.

What is a DPOR tattoo license?

DPOR stands for Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation which is a regulatory agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia. All tattoo licenses are handed out by this institution.

Where are tattoos illegal?

As of now, tattooing is legalized in all states of the US.


The information found in this article has been based on official sources: