Tattooing and the Law
It is illegal to tattoo young people under the age of 18.
You must be at least 18 years before you can have a tattoo; it is illegal for anyone to have a tattoo under 18 even with parental consent.
Tattooists must register with the local authority
The local authority keeps a record of all registered tattooists and issue registration certificates. This certificate must be on display, if the tattooist is not displaying this, the likelihood is they are not registered.
For further information on how to register click on the following link:
Hygiene standards must be met.
The local authority inspects registered tattooists to ensure the hygiene standards are met and the equipment is sterilised correctly.
Wrexham County Borough Council have adopted model byelaws which set out standards for cleanliness of the studio, a copy of these byelaws can be found here:
What do you mean by illegal tattooing?
Illegal tattooing refers to two main points:
- Tattooing a young person under the age of 18.
- Tattooing carried out by an unregistered tattooist
As mentioned, it is illegal for anyone to tattoo a young person under the age of 18, this includes with parental consent. A tattooist that does tattoo a young person will be prosecuted and fined.
Tattooists must be registered with the local authority, if they are unregistered it’s usually for a reason, these can include:
- The equipment may be of poor quality and cheap, therefore the quality of the tattoo may not necessarily be to a high standard.
- They may not have undertaken any training. Most registered tattooists work as an apprenticeship in an established tattoo studio to gain experience before setting up on their own. An inexperienced tattooist could pierce the skin too deeply with the needle and cause intense pain and bleeding.
- The equipment may not be sterile so you may be risking your health and could end up with a blood-borne infection. Registered tattooists have regular inspections to ensure they are maintaining good hygienic standards.
Tattoos pierce the skin repeatedly with one or more needles and insert droplets of ink, which means that skin infections and other complications are possible. Specific risks include:
Allergic reactions. This could be from the tattoo dyes which can cause allergic skin reactions, such as an itchy rash around the tattoo.
Skin infections. A skin infection, which could cause redness, swelling, itchy and pain is possible after tattooing. Prevention of infections is not as simple as using a new needle for each person. Equipment, inks, cleanliness, aftercare etc are all part of the overall hygienic practices
Other skin problems. Tattooing can also lead to keloids which are raised areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue.
Blood-borne diseases. Tattooing is similar to minor surgery, if done incorrectly or in unhygienic situations there is a risk of contracting unwanted blood borne viruses which include tetanus, hepatitis and HIV. These can be transferred into your body if the equipment used is contaminated with someone else’s blood. Even if you have been infected by one of these viruses you may not have symptoms straight away.
Infections can make you feel extremely unwell and can cause blood poisoning and in severe cases even death.
Contact your GP straight away If after having a tattoo you have:
- A high temperature
- Feel unwell
- Or are worried about the tattoo site
Poor quality. Unregistered tattooists often use cheap kits which will be poor quality and come without instructions on how to clean the equipment effectively.
Sharing needles, using unapproved tattoo inks or tattooing at home where you cannot guarantee suitable sterilization leaves you at risk from infection and blood-borne diseases and illnesses.
Further information regarding the risks of tattooing can be found at:
If you would like to report a person working from an unregistered premises, such as their home, if your tattoo has become infected, or if you have been tattooed and are under the age of 18, or would like further information or advice please contact a member of Environmental Health’s, Health and Safety team in confidence and private at email@example.com or fill out an online form at: