How old does someone need to be to get a tattoo?

You must be at least 18 years before you can have a tattoo. It is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 - even with parental consent.

What counts as illegal tattooing?

Tattooing is illegal if...

  • The person getting the tattoo is under the age of 18
  • The tattooing is carried out by an unregistered tattooist

A tattooist will be prosecuted and fined if they are found to have given a tattoo to someone under the age of 18.

Tattooist registration

Tattooists operating in Wrexham must be registered with us (the local authority). 

We keep a record of all registered tattooists and issue registration certificates. The registration certificate must be clearly on display in the premises where the tattooing is being carried out. If this certificate isn’t on display the likelihood is that they aren’t registered. 

Hygiene standards required for registered tattooists

We (as the local authority) regularly inspect registered tattooists to ensure the hygiene standards are met and the equipment is sterilised correctly.

We have adopted model byelaws which set out standards for cleanliness of the studio.
 

Why should I avoid a tattooist that is not registered?

The may use poor quality equipment

Unregistered tattooists often use cheap equipment, so the quality of the tattoo is unlikely to be to a high standard.

The equipment may not be sterile 

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.

They may not have had any training 

Most registered tattooists work as an apprentice 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.

Possible risks when getting a tattoo

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, itching and pain is possible after tattooing. Prevention of infections is not as simple as using a new needle for each person. Equipment, inks, cleanliness and aftercare 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.

Concerns after getting a tattoo

Contact your GP straight away if after having a tattoo you:

  • Have a high temperature
  • Feel unwell
  • Are worried about the tattoo site

Advice

You can email us at foodandfarming@wrexham.gov.uk in confidence and private, for further information or advice.

Report an unregistered tattooist, illegal tattooing or a problem with a tattoo

You can use our online form to report a problem with a tattoo or skin piercing. This could include an unregistered tattooist, someone working from an unregistered premises (such as their home), if you have been tattooed and are under the age of 18, or if your tattoo has become infected.

Report online

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