The capital of the US, Washington D.C., is a unique district in many ways. It is the home of the federal government and some of the most iconic landmarks in the country, such as the White House and the Capitol Building.
It is also a city with a strong sense of history and culture, which is reflected in its many tattoo shops and parlors.
However, as with any other state/district in the United States, there are laws and regulations that govern tattooing in Washington.
If you’ve been considering getting inked or starting work as a tattoo artist, continue reading to get familiar with the latest tattoo laws in Washington.
Washington State Tattoo Laws & Regulations
The fact that the tattoo industry is regulated in Washington D.C. doesn’t make the state unique in any way. The truth is, the vast majority of states in the US have put some form of regulation in place when it comes to tattooing.
There are a few exceptions of course, such as the state of Nevada which doesn’t regulate the industry at all, or Maryland and Massachusetts in which there are no age laws in place.
Laws for Clients
As you’d expect from the country’s capital, the tattoo laws are one of the strictest around – especially relating to the minimum age of the client.
In order to get a tattoo in Washington D.C., you must be at least 18 years old.
But… can you get a tattoo in Washington under 18?
While the minimum age requirement is the same across all states that regulate the tattoo industry, Washington, unlike other states, doesn’t allow for exceptions to the rule in the form of parental/guardian consent.
So, if you’re under 18 and hoping to get a tattoo with your parent’s permission, you’ll be out of luck in Washington D.C. However, both neighboring states of Idaho and Oregon do allow for minors to get tattooed with parental consent so you may want to consider traveling to one of those states instead.
When it comes to the placement of tattoos, Washington doesn’t have any specific laws in place. However, some tattoo shops and parlors will have their own rules regarding where they will and won’t tattoo clients.
Laws for Artists
It’s only fair to open up this section by stating that, in case a person under the age of 18 gets tattooed in Washington D.C., it’s the artist who will be held liable and not the minor or their guardian.
So, if you’re an artist working in Washington, just be extra diligent to check ID before starting any work. It’s important because, in case of breaching the law, you’re risking a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 3 months in jail.
As for being allowed to legally work as a tattoo artist in Washington, you must have a valid tattoo license. One of the most trusted places to do so in Washington is the Washington Tattoo Academy.
Getting certified as a tattoo artist consists of, amongst others, completing a bloodborne pathogens training course. Once you get certified, you’re allowed to start work as an artist but only in a shop that’s properly licensed. Performing the procedure from any other location is considered illegal.
The shop also needs to follow certain hygiene and safety regulations which include but are not limited to:
- using only single-use needles
- artists wearing disposable gloves at all times
- sterilizing all equipment
- having an autoclave on the premises
Artists and studios also have some rights, obviously. Naturally, they’re allowed to decline service to anyone for any reason – as long as it’s not discriminatory.
They’re also allowed to set their own prices and decide which styles they want to specialize in.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that by now, you have a clear understanding of the tattoo laws in Washington.
If not, feel free to check out some of the frequently asked questions below where we round up all the information covered in the article as well as some additional bits that might be of interest.
Can a 14-year-old get a tattoo in Washington?
No, the legal age for getting a tattoo in Washington is 18. There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you have parental consent.
Can you get a tattoo at 15 in Washington?
Look above – the answer is still no. The legal age for tattoos in Washington is 18.
Can I get a tattoo at 16 in Washington?
Again, the answer is no. The minimum age for tattoos in Washington is 18.
Can a 17-year-old get a tattoo with parental consent in Washington?
Unfortunately, you’re still one year away from the legal age for tattoos in Washington. The state doesn’t allow for any exceptions to the rule, even with parental consent.
What states can you get a tattoo at 16 near Washington?
Both neighboring states, Idaho and Oregon, allow for tattoos at 16 with parental consent. So, if you’re hell-bent on getting inked before you turn 18, you may want to consider traveling to one of those states instead.
Can you get a tattoo at 15 in Oregon?
As long as you can provide parental consent, the state doesn’t have a law in place that would prohibit you from getting tattooed.
Tattoo Laws in Washington: References
Summing up this article on the Washington tattoo laws, tattooing is a popular form of body art that people of all ages enjoy.
However, it’s important to be aware of the laws in your state before getting inked. In Washington, the legal age for tattoos is 18. There are no exceptions to this rule, even if you have parental consent.
If you’re an artist working in Washington, just be extra diligent to check the ID before starting any work. In case of breaching the law, you’re risking a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 3 months in jail.
This article has been based on information from official sources: