California Laws on Body Piercing

By Terri Lynn Coop
Woman getting her navel pierced.

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Body piercing is a centuries-old art used to identify everything from tribal affiliations to social status. In modern society, body art is an avenue of expression and creativity. According to the Student Health Center at the University of California at Long Beach, Californians seeking body modifications should select a studio that is licensed by the Association for Professional Piercers. The APP is the industry standard for hygiene and professional piercing operations. Studios must have all local and state health department certifications and permits required by California law.

Body Piercing and Modification Salons

In California, body piercing salons are regulated under the Safe Body Art Act. Artists must register with the local health agency and renew their registration every year. Salon owners must submit to inspections, have health department certifications and pay inspection fees. A certified artist is required to show current vaccinations and bloodborne pathogen training. The client must complete a health questionnaire and the artist must discuss the procedure and risks based on the client's responses. Failure to comply with licensing and health regulations is a misdemeanor criminal violation and the facility or artist may face fines of up to $1,000.

Body Piercing and Minors

In California, no one under the age of 18, except for a legally emancipated minor, can receive a body piercing unless the procedure is done in the presence of their parent or guardian. However, piercing of the nipples or genitalia of minors is prohibited, even with parental consent. A registered body artist is free to refuse to perform any body modification procedure, such as piercings or tattoos, on a minor. It is a misdemeanor for a body artist to perform a procedure on a minor without proper consent or proof of legal emancipation.

About the Author

Terri Lynn Coop is an attorney by day and a writer by night. She began writing professionally in 2006 and her work has appeared in Dream People, Whispers of Wickedness, Flashshots and "The Flash 40 Anthology." She has a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from University of the Pacific and a Juris Doctor from the University of Tulsa.

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