Throw a rock, and you’ll likely hit someone wearing a tattoo. The fact is, this once taboo and fringe form of expression and art is now part of mainstream Canadian culture. Outdated and unfounded stigmas of tattoos have been gradually fading for years.
Today you’ll find everyone from Canadian Judges to physicians with them. Even the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau sports a large shoulder tattoo proudly displayed any time he wears athletic apparel.
But even though tattoos have gone mainstream, there may be some age requirements to get a tattoo without the need for parental consent. Given that Canada is made up of various provinces, local laws and regulations may differ from one area to the next, and even between cities within provinces.
This guide will help you better understand the age restrictions in each of the provinces.
Age Requirement for Getting a Tattoo in Canadian Provinces
As of the date, this guide was written, Canada does not have any specific laws on the books restricting a country-wide minimum age at which an individual must be to get a tattoo without parental consent. However, as mentioned, some provinces have taken steps to put their mandates in place, with a number of them still leaving the ultimate decision up to the parent(s).
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in Ontario?
While Ontario does not have an official minimum age restriction, the majority of tattoo shops in Ontario will require you to be 18 or have the signature of a guardian’s consent. That said, some artists will regularly tattoo 16 and 17-year-olds without permission, but these are not reputable tattoo shops in Toronto.
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in Quebec?
Similar to Ontario, Quebec has no official legislation banning tattoo shops from providing services to underage teens. However, many shops, in fear of parent backlash, set strict age requirements of their own, with most set at 18. Other shops will offer services to 17-year-olds provided that they bring in a guardian’s signature for consent along with a phone number to call for verification.
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in Nova Scotia?
As opposed to its less restrictive Canadian neighbours, Nova Scotia has opted to enact specific legislation regarding the standards of safety, sanitation, infection prevention and records management for tattoo shops operating within its borders. This Act is new, having taken effect as of February 1, 2019.
However, despite a move towards increased legislation and regulation, age is one aspect of the new rules that were not addressed. As such, there currently exists no government-mandated minimum age for tattoos in Nova Scotia.
This leaves tattoo shops to set their own rules. Similar to over provinces, the minimum age is usually set at 18 without consent and 17 with approval. That said, there are artists willing to tattoo younger teens at their discretion.
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in Alberta?
While Alberta doesn’t have any legislation explicitly tailored to the age necessary for consent regarding tattooing, there is another law that applies given that the Act of consenting to a tattoo requires entering into a binding contract.
Both the Government of Alberta and Health Canada have issued their guidelines for tattoo artists. Health Standards suggest that individuals must provide “informed consent” (this includes those 18 and older).
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Within Newfoundland and Labrador, the Personal Services Act regulates a range of services, including both body piercing and tattooing. Those businesses that operate in those industries are required by law to follow the rules put in place by the Act.
With regards to age, the Act states that any individual under the age of 16 must have their parent’s explicit consent before getting a tattoo or piercing. However, any individual over the age of 16 may get a tattoo or piercing without the need for parental consent.
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in New Brunswick?
We hate to beat a dead horse here, but New Brunswick is also a province with no “official” minimum age for tattoos. Though artists have discretion, most will require individuals to be 18 years of age or have the consent of their guardians.
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in British Columbia?
No law within BC dictates any age restrictions on tattooing. However, The Ministry of Health does recommend that Vancouver tattoo shops obtain prior parental consent before performing services on those under the age of 19. Compliance with this “recommendation” is voluntary and in no way mandatory.
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in Manitoba?
Apart from voluntary guidelines and recommendations from Health Canada, Manitoba doesn’t have any age restrictions with regards to getting a tattoo.
How Old do you Have to Be to Get a Tattoo in Saskatchewan?
Recommendations from Health Canada aside, Saskatchewan doesn’t currently have any province-specific legislation limiting the age of consent for getting a tattoo.
However, because signing for consent technically involves a contract, contract laws may apply, and as such many tattoo artists and shops stick with the recommendation of 18 or older for approval without a parent or guardian’s permission.
Some Tattoo Shops will Still Require Parental Consent
Similar to provinces, cities within them are also free to pass and implement their city ordinances with regards to the regulation of tattooing within their borders. For example, most tattoo shops in Toronto and Vancouver require parental consent for those under 16 years of age. While others refuse to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 altogether.
In jurisdictions where to hard and fast rules or regulations are in place, each tattoo artist and tattoo shop is free to put their policies in place with regards to age.
Our Favourite Tattoo Aftercare
After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer delivers effective skin moisturization and helps to preserve the colours of your tattoos. There’s no petroleum, so it won’t stick to or stain your clothes. This moisturizing skin lotion, enriched with Grape Seed Oil, can also be used on any permanent makeup procedure on lips, brows, eyeliner, and areola, as well as an after-laser tattoo removal moisturizing lotion. After Inked is Dermatologist tested, non-allergenic and non-irritating.
PurSan Aftercare is a specially formulated Vegan skin cleanser used to clean and moisturize as part of an aftercare regimen for fresh tattoos and piercings. It revitalizes, refreshes and purifies skin without drying it out. Gentle yet effective, PurSan contains no parabens, fragrances, colourants or alcohol. Chloroxylenol (PCMX) is a proven antimicrobial ingredient shown to be effective against bacteria and viruses without burning or irritating the skin. Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose (Hypromellose) is an ultra-high grade lubricant ideal for sensitive skin.
No matter the customers’ age, tattoo studios would be wise to make sure they are providing clear and accurate information about the process and potential risks. They should also take measures to make sure that consent is “informed” and not given under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
Given that consent implies a contractual agreement, there may be a case to be made that the age for obtaining a tattoo is more so restricted by the age at which Canada recognizes the ability to form a contractual agreement.
Either way, many shops like to err on the side of caution, both out of respect for the individual and to prevent issues with parents.
Ready to get your next tattoo
Do you live in or around the Toronto, Markham, Mississauga or Kitsilano Vancouver area? If so, give the team at Chronic Ink Tattoo a call today to learn more about their policies regarding the age of consent for getting a tattoo. Our team is on standby, ready and happy to help. And when you’re prepared to take the plunge, you won’t find a more passionate, dedicated, caring and talented team of tattoo artists.
Tattoo Studio Locations
378 Yonge Street,
252 Eglinton Ave East,
7381 Kennedy Road,
100 City Centre Dr.,
1804 W 4th Ave,
Vancouver, British Columbia
Looking for your next Tattoo Idea?
Browse our selection of one of a kinda tattoo designs created by our Chronic Ink artists. Each piece is individual and will only ever be tattooed once.