In most cases, getting a tattoo is a permanent decision for life. It is for this reason that throughout the years and since this trend was initiated in Europe during the 70s, several legislations have been framing the current legal tattoo scene. These are the EU countries where minors at the age of 16 can get a tattoo:
Each European country has its own legislation with all the different regulations and policies applied to the tattoo laws. This also includes tattoos, and all the countries not included in the list above have their own exceptions or lack of legislation. To know more about it, keep reading.
Legal Tattoos on Minors: EU
There are 11 European countries, inside the EU, with legislation that allows minors, citizens with at least 16 years, sometimes with and sometimes without authorization of their parents. Each country has clauses to protect these citizens from making these important decisions while being underage.
No Legislation About Tattoos
The countries that don’t have legislation updated on tattooing minors are Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, Bulgary, Romania and Slovenia. This means citizens in this country can do what the tattoo makers decide to do. In any case, you should be allowed to ask for it.
Only For 18 Years Old
The countries that only allow citizens over 18 years old only are Lithuania, the UK, Luxembourg, Italy, Latvia, Greece, Finland, Malta, and Denmark. There are some medical exception but the rest of the citizens are only allowed when they turn 18.
Moreover, the legislations NOT only apply to citizens of that country but any citizen of the world that is visiting the country. This person should fall into the same category as citizens from the same country, like any other legislation.
European countries outside the EU have their own different cases, each of them has their specific cases and don’t fall into any EU law.
Case Study: The Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the 11 countries where getting a tattoo is allowed since the day you turn 16. However, there are many requirements that the minor has to fulfill in order to be allowed, according to the Dutch Government:
- Age: under no circumstance, a person under 12 years old can get a tattoo.
- Consent: with parents or carers consent, minors between 12 and 16 years old can get a tattoo. However, tattoos on wrists, necks, and hands are not allowed.
- Signed Agreement: A person under 12 years old has to have a signed consent form but their carer or parent and the tattoo maker has to keep this agreement for the next decade.
- 16 or Older: at 16 years old you can decide for yourself, not only for a tattoo but also for piercing.
Like in the rest of the cases, there are certain standards that all the tattoo makes have to follow. In the case of the Netherlands, these are the requirements:
- Have a license, for which you will have to have a tattoo making diploma and health inspection to your business place.
- Only microbiological and chemical-free inks can be used for both tattoos and permanent make up.
- Use of latex gloves.
- Inform costumers of all the risks and how to properly take care of the tattoo and the skin during and after the process.
All these legislations are approved not only by the Dutch Government but also by the European Union Parlament. The pigments and ink, health measures, instruments and procedure have to be approved in the case of all the EU countries, no matter the age of the customer.
European Cases: Tattoos in Minors
- Spain: Spain is one of the countries who has more than a central Government. Therefore, depending on which independent province you go to you will be able to get a tattoo. In some provinces, you will be able to get a tattoo at 14 always with the signed adult consent, whereas in other you will have to be 17 or older.
- Croatia and Austria: 16 with written parental consent.
- Greece: sometimes under 16 with written consent and the presence of a tutor or parent in the room where the minor is being tattooed.
- Ireland: besides the lack of legislation, you can get a tattoo at 16 if with adult consent.
- UK: like many other countries, never, under no circumstance under 18
- Finland: only under 16 with written consent too.
- France, Slovakia, Sweden, Germany, Cyprus, Poland, Portugal: 16 years old no permission needed.
Why are Tattoos on Minors Forbidden?
Throughout history, there have been many reasons why tattoos are not allowed and not well-seen but most of them have been taboos that Western societies with the open-mindedness and growth of the last decades have been able to overcome. Why are tattoos on minors forbidden in so many countries and why do you need parental consent?
Like with anything else, it depends a lot on the legal age: if for going to the doctor, for traveling and for living alone you need parental permission, to do something permanent to your body you need it too.
The main issue is the legal age when you are allowed to make your own decision and when you are not legally bound to anybody else. It is the reason why a lot of these countries don’t allow minors to get tattoos, not to have legal issues and irregularities. Like alcohol, you either have the minimum age or you have to wait.
Besides, there are still many taboos and reasons why you wouldn’t be allowed:
- Maturity: the Government (and also the EU Parliament) agree on a minimum age when a citizen is considered to be mature. It is then when he or she is allowed to vote, decide the consumption of alcohol and also what to do with his or her body.
- Working Opportunities: In some countries, having tattoos can also be a way of discrimination for that person. Some societies have cultural issues with exposed tattoos. In the case of Europe, there is no anti-tattoo culture, which may explain why it is allowed to get a tattoo when you are 16 in most countries.
- Regret: it is a belief that most teenagers don’t really know what they want for the rest of their lives and what is more convenient for them. That is also why they are not allowed to make many important life decisions and why getting a tattoo is one of them. This would explain the parental consent that we were talking about.