When it comes to piercings and tattoos, minors may need special permission from their parent or guardian before getting one. Even then, some piercings may be off the table.
What piercings can you get at 16 without parental consent?
The answer depends on what the piercing is and your state.
Remember that even if a shop agrees to pierce you, it may not be legal–and there may be legal ramifications for you, your parents, or the shop owners. This guide will cover everything you need to know about getting a piercing without parental consent at 16.
State Laws and Guidelines
There are currently no federal guidelines on tattooing or piercing minors. However, almost every state has laws regarding this process.
Some states, like Idaho, have strict laws on piercing or tattooing minors. Your parent or guardian must provide written consent, and even then, minors under 14 aren’t allowed to be pierced at all.
Other states, like Maryland, have more relaxed laws. Nevada is one of the only states with no age limit laws. That doesn’t mean that individual counties or cities don’t have regulations regarding parental permission, however.
While each state differs, there are some general piercings that most (if not all) states will allow with little to no parental consent.
General Piercings a Minor Can Get
One piercing that seems to evade state laws is earlobe piercings. Some national jewelry chains will pierce your ears on the spot with the purchase of jewelry, and many of these shops cater to children.
In some cases, infants can have their ears pierced, even though they are too young to consent.
Even in states with stringent piercing laws, a minor may be able to obtain ear lobe piercings, as long as it’s their first and not in an unusual spot. Getting a lip, brow, or even tragus piercing procedure may be more difficult for minors without parental consent, and these piercings can only be done in authorized shops.
In Virginia, minors can get several different piercings without parental consent. There’s just one catch. They must be ear piercings.
Piercings such as the tongue, lip, brow, cheek, or other “non-traditional” piercings are strictly off the table unless you have the presence of a parent or guardian.
However, a minor can receive any ear piercing without a parent present. This includes the ear lobe, daith, tragus, helix, conch, and industrial piercings.
For the state known as “the silver state,” it only makes sense that their tattoo and piercing laws would be extremely lax. And by extremely lax, we mean they’re non-existent. Nevada has no laws regarding parental permission for minors interested in getting a piercing.
Certain counties, like Clark County (where Las Vegas is located), have a county ordinance regarding that tattoo or piercing parlors having a license and following regulations.
Otherwise, a minor can get any tattoo or piercing without a guardian present. Of course, individual shops have their own rules, and some may require you or a parent to sign a waiver.
Some states have legal loopholes that allow a minor to get a piercing without parental consent. These states, like Vermont, only require written consent from a parent, which is often easily fabricated.
Nearby neighbor New Hampshire was quick to shut down these loopholes, however.
New Hampshire requires your parent to not only be present at the time of the piercing but to provide proof of their status as your parent or guardian. They must also sign a piercing consent form, which has to be kept on file for seven years.
This extremely strict law prevents minors from sneaking a piercing without their parents knowing.
More than that, if a minor can fabricate consent or have a friend pose as their guardian, both the minor and the friend can be held legally responsible.
Many New Hampshire residents looking to get around these strict laws travel to nearby Vermont instead to get a piercing, which is a much simpler process.
Be Wary of Seedy Shops
Just because a shop agrees to pierce you doesn’t mean you should go through with it, especially if it violates state laws. This is a red flag if this shop is willing to breach state laws and lose its license. They may not even be licensed in the first place.
Shops that aren’t regulated by the state are an extreme danger to public health. There’s no guarantee that they follow sanitation or medical guidelines.
An infected piercing can quickly develop gangrene, leading to severe health complications like sepsis. While it may seem like a great deal or opportunity you can’t pass up, you don’t want to cause an ever bigger mess for yourself.
Don’t Attempt DIY Piercing
If you live in a state with stringent piercing laws, you might have the idea to DIY your own piercing, and you absolutely shouldn’t. This can lead to a number of complications with potentially deadly consequences.
Piercers and tattoo artists must go through years of training and pass state board or license exams to practice.
Their shops are regularly inspected to ensure they’re following the appropriate hygiene standards, and these standards are near impossible to replicate at home. Always seek out an experienced piercer in the correct environment for your piercing.
Piercings Without Parental Consent
Getting a piercing without your parent or guardian can be somewhat of a hassle. Fortunately, most states give the green light for ear piercings, but other piercings may require special permission.
Tattoos have even more strict laws in most states. Many minors will travel to a state to get a piercing under more relaxed laws. Whatever you decide to do, always choose a clean, reputable shop that is regulated by the state for your safety.