PopularCan I Go Into The Military With Tattoos

Can I Go Into The Military With Tattoos


New Usaf Tattoo Policy

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  • Removes the 25% rule a rule that stated Airmen could not have tattoos that were larger than 25% of their body
  • Eliminates size restrictions on tattoos located on arms, chest, back, and legs
  • Clearly defines the tattoo locations that are not permitted
  • Allows for only one single-band ring tattoo, located on only one finger and one hand

What Tattoos Are Not Allowed In The Army

As far as placement or location goes, we recommend the t-shirt test.

Throw on a t-shirt and stand in front of the mirror. Now, you cannot have any tattoos showing above the t-shirt collar line or anywhere on the neck, ear, face, scalp, etc.

This restriction also includes any inner-mouth or eyelid tattoos .

You cannot have any tattoos on your hands either .

The hand is defined as any location below the wrist bone. With this in mind, its best not to have any ink on your wrists at all.

As far as content of the tattoos, the Army prohibits anything that is:

  • Racist
  • Extremist
  • Indecent

These types of tattoos cannot be located anywhere on your body. And believe us, theyll check.

Of course, the terms above can be interpreted in different ways, so its ultimately up to your Recruiting Commander to make the call.

Also, if you have tattoos and eventually want to become an Officer or Warrant Officer, dont worry, theres still hope of moving up in rank.

You see, Commanders make recommendations for soldiers based on many considerations so you likely wont be rejected on account of your tattoos alone.

Finally, if you have a tattoo that you think will disqualify you from the Army, its worth a shot to check with the recruiters anyway.

You might get a waiver for, say, a tiny tattoo on your hand or something small behind your ear.

So dont count yourself out!

Can A Soldier Cover Up A Tattoo With Makeup Or Bandages

The Army does not allow soldiers to cover up a tattoo anywhere on the body with bandages or makeup.

It doesnt matter if the tattoo is hidden when in uniform or not.

However, permanent makeup is an exception.

The Army approves permanent makeup like tattoos that represent eyebrows or eyeliner as long as it follows the traditional rules for makeup .

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Whats The Big Deal About Tattoos

Many recruits wonder why the armed forces even care about their tattoos. While someone joining the Air Force or Marine Corps might expect to be required to put forth a professional appearance, someone joining the Army or Navy might think thatgiven the traditionally more rugged lifestyle of people in these branchesa tattoo on the hand or neck would not pose a big deal.

The reality of the matter is that the military is a place of tradition and high, uniform standards. Individuality is not valued like in our general society. Moreover, there are a lot of qualified recruits who meet the existing standards so theres little incentive to lower existing standards / regulations.

Tattoos that glorify sexism, drugs, violence, or extremist or indecent tattoos could pose problems for recruits. While some branches of the military will allow certain types of sleeve tattoos, many would-be recruits will find themselves being told to get laser tattoo removal treatment for these tattoos before they can submit enlistment papers.

Military tattoo regulations do tend to change slightly over time. So, while the below information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, you may want to double-check with your recruiter or another U.S. Military publication for the latest tattoo regulations.

Can You Get A Waiver For Tattoos In The Coast Guard

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The military does grant waivers for a variety of issues that otherwise would violate one of their policies.

Therefore, it is possible to receive a waiver from the Coast Guard for your tattoos yet it isnt something you should count on.

Regardless, the Coast Guard is more likely to grant a waiver for body placement violations compared to content violations.

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What Other Grooming Standards Does The Marine Corps Have

The Marine Corps has strict grooming standards compared to its brother branch, the U.S. Navy.

Haircuts are required to remain neat, clean, and well-groomed at all times.

There are a number of regulations related to what hairstyles are authorized and not authorized.

Male Marines are permitted a mustache after completing recruit training.

Will The Air Force Pay To Remove Tattoos

The Department of Defense recently passed rules that stipulate the military will not cover expenses related to tattoo removal.

The only exception is if a commanding officer orders the removal, in which the soldier may potentially receive compensation if he or she is struggling to finance the operation.

Your best bet to get a tattoo removed the right way is laser surgery from a qualified laser tattoo removal treatment facility.

With that said, we have reviewed alternative Laser Pen Kit Removal options in the past, with limited success.

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What Tattoos Are Not Allowed In The Coast Guard

Location. Location. Location.

Similar to other branches of the military, the Coast Guard has very specific rules regarding the placement or location of tattoos.

No tattoos or brands are authorized anywhere on the head, scalp, face, and neck.

Otherwise, as far as location of tattoos go, your body is your canvas.

As for content of individual or groups of tattoos, the Coast Guard is particular about what they authorize and what is non-negotiable.

A Coast Guardsman cannot wear any tattoo that promotes:

  • Racism/discrimination
  • Violence
  • Sexual explicitness

You can read all about how the Coast Guard defines the above terms in their official memo announcing the new tattoo policy change.

But before we move on, the Coast Guard does offer guidance in the form of an image collage as to what type of tattoo designs are not authorized .

Coasties are also not authorized to have any body mutilations, also known as intentional alterations and / or modifications to a members body .

Body Piercings are also prohibited, with the exception of women who may have small studded earrings.

As described in the Coast Guards latest uniform regulations, no piercing shall be made through the ear, nose, tongue, chin, eyebrow, or any other body part that would be visible while in any uniform.

This prohibition applies to male and female members alike and is specifically intended to limit the less than military appearance associated with vacant holes in the face and other exposed areas of the body.

Air Force Tattoo Ideas And Meanings

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Turns out, the Air Force gives you wings!

In fact, I would venture to guess that 90% of all Air Force tattoos somehow incorporate the famous wings overlapping a central star.

Youll also see Airmen sporting USAF tattoos that symbolize a deep patriotic pride in their nation and flag.

Eagles abound, and of course, no USAF tattoo is complete without showcasing the very symbol of the branch the fighter jet itself.

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Can You Get A Waiver For Tattoos In The Navy

Yes, you can receive permission for a tattoo that is otherwise not allowed under the terms of the Navy tattoo policy.

Though waivers are not handed out liberally, you may receive a pass for a neck tattoo that is larger than one inch in diameter.

In order to qualify for a neck tattoo waiver, the ink may not touch the hairline or reach behind the ears.

Additionally, the Navy may grant a waiver for cosmetic tattoos that were performed by a licensed medical professional.

Sometimes cosmetic tattoos are performed in order to correct certain medical conditions and therefore the Navy may grant a waiver.

Military waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis with no guarantees.

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Will The Army Pay To Remove Tattoos

The Army will not pay to remove existing tattoos prior to joining the military branch.

The only way you could get compensation for tattoo removal from the U.S. government is if the Army tattoo policy changed after you enlisted.

For example, if a commanding officer determined your tattoo violates its policy, you could request funding for the removal.

However, those circumstances happen infrequently in the U.S. Army.

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What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Air Force

Recent studies have concluded that more than 4 out of 10 adults have tattoos in the 21st century.

Tattoos are especially popular with Millennials which represent the recruiting pool for all military branches.

In accordance, the Air Force have started to revise its policies based on tattoos.

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The Air Force tattoo policy for 2021 follows the same groundwork that was outlined under sweeping reform in 2017:

  • Removal of the 25% Rule: Airmen are now allowed to have tattoos that are larger than 25% of their body.
  • Removal of Size Restrictions: Airmen can have tattoos on their arms, chest, back, and legs without size stipulations.
  • Single-Band Ring Tattoos: An individual single-band ring tattoo is now permitted on one hand.

As you can see there are several more options for airmen to have tattoos while serving the Air Force under the new restrictions.

The biggest change is the Excessive tattoo rule, or 25% rule.

It has helped pave the way for military personnel to have tattoo sleeves without getting disqualified from duty.

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Therefore, the Air Force tattoo policy is fairly loose with limitations no longer in place regarding tattoo size or placement.

In fact, the Air Force is the only military branch that also permits tattoos on the feet.

Airmen can sport tattoos below the ankle line, as well as one ring tattoo on a hand.

Military Entrance Processing Questions Answered

Army Eagle With Flag Tattoo On Half Sleeve

Here are some frequently asked questions that we have received, but as always, you should check questions yourself with a recruiter. To get in touch with a recruiter now.

  • Lying at MEPS
  • Is asthma a disqualifying condition?
  • Which branch to join?
  • Good ratings for future CIA/FBI career?
  • Are allergic reactions grounds for disqualification?
  • Joining with tattoos?
  • How long to wait for waivers?
  • Are antidepressants disqualifying?
  • Will affect my enlistment?
  • How can I make the military my career?
  • The brutal truth before enlisting
  • What makes an officer?
  • Lying at MEPS


    I had a misdemeanor, petty theft, and my Navy recruiter told me to lie. I was scared, and confused on why he wanted me to lie, though my offense wasn’t even disqualifying. My fine was not paid for when I signed, and I had no idea that it was illegal to be processed without fines being paid. I refuse to go into the USN with inaccurate papers. Is it too late to change my papers … what will happen afterward?


    1. Need some clarification. Did you admit to the charge? If so and your fine just isn’t paid, go pay it. If you didn’t mention it, pay the fine and mention it when you ship.

    Or you can pay your fine and divulge this to the recruiter. It may void your enlistment contract … and may require you to choose another rate. However, you don’t have to worry about when big brother will come knocking. And you will be in compliance. Peace of mind is everything.

    Is asthma a disqualifying condition?


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    Can You Get A Waiver For Tattoos In The Marine Corps

    It is possible to request a waiver for a tattoo that is located on a body part that is otherwise not authorized in the military branch.

    New recruits face a more difficult time gaining a waiver compared to Marines already enlisted in the branch.

    The recruiting officer is given permission to assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

    Former Marines that have out of regulation tattoos and wish to join the reserves are often granted a waiver, as one example.

    The Marine Corps rarely grants waivers to Marines with obscene or indecent tattoos as the content of the body art is judged more harshly.

    What Happens If You Violate The Coast Guard Tattoo Policy

    According to the Coast Guard tattoo policy, active duty or reserve members whose tattoos or brands violate the policy have a couple of options.

    A) The service member may seek medical advice regarding the removal or alteration of body art in order to reach compliance.

    Or B) refuse to change or remove the tattoo and face disciplinary action.

    Coasties that are unwilling to follow the orders as outlined in the Uniform Regulations manual are administratively separated from the maritime branch.

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    What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Marines

    Heres an easier way to remember this: Tattoos are OK under PT.

    That is, under a properly fitting standard physical training uniform , a Marine can have unlimited tattoos of all shapes, sizes, colors, etc.

    Of course, even under the PT, there are restrictions regarding content of tattoos, but well get to that in a bit.

    Outside of the PT uniform , a Marine is permitted up to four tattoos and no more.

    Also, these four tattoos must adhere by the following standards:

    • A tattoo, or group of tattoos, located anywhere on the lower arm is allowed only if it can be covered by the Marines hand with his or her fingers extended and joined with the thumb flush against the side of the hand. The measurement will be from the base of the palm to the tip of the fingers and from the outside of the thumb to the outside of the palm.
    • Band tattoos are permitted so long as the band does not exceed three inches or the width of the Marines four fingers extended and joined, whichever is greater. This goes for both Officers and enlisted Marines.
    • On the arms, no tattoos are permitted within two inches of the wrist-bone.
    • Also on arms, the tattoo cannot be located within two inches above or below the elbow.
    • And on knees, the same two-inch above/below rule applies.

    While hand tattoos are prohibited in the Marines, a wedded Marine can get a pass.

    They can have a single band tattoo of no more than 3/8 of an inch in width on one finger.

    But this is decided on a case-by-case basis.

    What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Navy

    We Tattooed my MOM for Valentines Day �� BOTH ELBOWS SAME TIME!

    As of April 2018, sailors can sport a single neck tattoo , as long as it isnt bigger than 1-inch in diameter.

    Additionally, tattoos below the knee and elbow, no matter the size and quantity, are perfectly fine.

    This means full sleeves are allowed. Hand and ring tattoos are permitted as well.

    This new policy isnt much different from one released in 2016.

    The only major difference is the addition of the small neck tattoo.

    Before that, however, the Navys policy on tattoos hadnt been changed in over a decade.

    One relatively new amendment to the Navys tattoo policy is that they now allow sailors with sleeve tattoos to attain rank of Recruit Training command and other Recruiting command positions.

    So dont be too surprised if you see a full-sleeved, tattoo-loving sailor show up to your high school or college.

    As far as cosmetic tattoos go, the Navy does allow cosmetic tattoos to correct certain medical conditions.

    But this is on a case-by-case basis.

    All in all, compared to the Marines, the Navy is incredibly generous regarding their tattoo policy.

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    Army Relaxes Tattoo Rules As It Scrambles For New Recruits

    The Army on Wednesday significantly relaxed its tattoo policy, becoming the military branch with some of the most relaxed rules for ink, as it scrambles to deal with a recruitment crisis.

    Social norms, people are getting more tattoos, Sgt. Maj. Ashleigh Sykes, who oversees Army uniform policies, told reporters Thursday. It doesnt stop readiness if someone has a tattoo on the back of their neck.

    The new rules allow soldiers to have one visible tattoo on each hand, including the palm, and unlimited tattoos between the fingers as long as they are not visible when their hands are closed. Troops are also authorized to have one ring tattoo on each hand.

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    In addition to the changes for hands, soldiers now may have a single tattoo on the back of the neck that does not exceed two inches in all directions, as well as one tattoo behind each ear, so long as they dont exceed 1 inch in size or reach forward of the earlobe.

    Tattoos are still forbidden on the face and other parts of the head, with some exceptions for permanent makeup. Tattoos inside the eyelids, mouth and ears are also still unauthorized.

    Less than one-quarter of young Americans are even qualified for service, often due to obesity.

    Can Officers In The Navy Have Tattoos

    Asked by: Adaline Pfannerstill V

    Are Navy officers allowed to have tattoos? Yes, the new Navy tattoo policy grants the same privileges to officers as enlisted personnel. Therefore, Navy officers are allowed to have tattoos that extend below the elbow or knee, places on the body that were previously restricted prior to the updated policy.

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    Eagle Globe And Anchor

    The eagle, globe, and anchor is by far the most common Marine tattoo.

    The eagle perched atop a globe is the official emblem and insignia of the U.S. Marine Corps.

    The eagle symbolizes America, and is part of the emblem that associates the Marine Corps to the United States. The eagle is typically depicted carrying a banner in its beak with the Corps Moto, Semper Fidelis.

    The globe symbolizes the worldwide commitment and the responsibility of the Marines to serve in any climate.

    Youll notice the anchor too, which represents the Marines ties with the Navy .

    Who wouldnt want a shredded bulldog dressed out in uniform tattooed on their arm?

    The bulldog is another go-to Marine tattoo that symbolizes brute force and unrelenting authority.

    Notice the USMC scrolled out in big, bold letters. And for bonus points, check out that eagle-perched-on-globe tattooed on the bulldogs arm.

    Yes, the tattoo has a tattoo.

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