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Can I Join The Military With Tattoos On My Hands


Recent Changes To National Guard Tattoo Policy

Tattoos Before Joining The Military – You’re Ruining Your Life..

The Army recently adapted its tattoo policy to make it more lenient for recruits since more and more Millennials are opting to get some type of body art.

As a result, the National Guard follows the Army tattoo policy in that it allows tattoos on any part of the body aside from the head, face, neck, and hands.

There are no longer restrictions on the number of tattoos National Guard members can have on their bodies.

Additionally, the National Guard follows the Army by no longer judging the size of tattoos either.

It is quite a difference from the previous National Guard military tattoo policy which limited the number of tattoos to four.

The previous tattoo policy also prohibited tattoos on the chest, upper arms, torso, and legs parts of the body that are now authorized.

Finally, the National Guard tattoo policy for 2021 does permit one ring tattoo per hand yet that is it in terms of hand tattoos.

Related Article: Navy Tattoo Policy

Will The Military Make Me Get My Tattoo Removed

If youre seriously thinking about joining the military, there are obviously a lot of things you have to consider. However, many people dont think of their tattoos as being problematic. Military branches have their own policies, but most of them dont allow tattoos in some form or fashion. Considering most branches are getting even stricter with their policies, youll most likely have to get yours removed. Military officials dont care about the laser tattoo removal cost in Fairfax, Virginia they just dont want to see the tattoo. Before you go all out with your tattoo removal, however, here are some things to think about.

Can You Have Neck/face/hand Tattoos In The Air Force

No, tattoos on the face, neck, and hands are not permitted with the exception of a single ring tattoo on a hand.

Airmen are allowed to have one full-band ring tattoo on one of the two hands.

Otherwise, the hands are off limits along with the entire neck and face.

The face also extends to the rest of the head, including the scalp.

You can use the t-shirt test to determine if you have any tattoos that would violate the current Air Force tattoo policy.

Any tattoos that are visible over the t-shirt collar are violations of the Air Force tattoo policy for 2021.

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Your Simple Guide To Military Tattoo Policies For 2021

No military regulation has been more closely watchedand more frequently changedthan the dos and donts of tattoos. Last week, the Marine Corps revised its policy, allowing the sleeve tattoo and also permitting officers more than four tattoos visible in uniform. Both officers and enlisted can now tat themselves up as much as they want, as long as its not on the face or neck. And hands may sport only one finger ring tattoo. The reason for the change is simple: recruiting and retention. Nearly half of young adults have tattoos, and many have several. The new Marine Corps Bulletin 1020 emphasizes balance between decorum and practicality: The American people expect Marines to be disciplined, physically fit, and ready to accomplish any mission. They also expect Marines to represent the nation they are sworn to protect.

The new policy, the bulletin goes on to say, ensures that the Marine Corps maintains its ties to the society it represents and removes all barriers to entry for those members of society wishing to join its ranks.

With the new Marine Corps policy, the service branches regulations on tattoos are now nearly identical. If youre curious about these rulesand the slight variations among themheres an updated comprehensive guide:

All five major branches of service agree that there must be no tattoos on these body parts:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Hands

All other branches prohibit neck tattoos visible above a crew neck shirt.

  • Racist

Cosmetics: A Gray Area In Military Tattoo Policies

?Hands Suga vs Hand Jimin?

One type of tattoos that may confuse some people are cosmetics, like permanent eyeliner or eyebrows.

These are currently allowed in all branches. Just make sure they are natural-looking in color and shape to adhere to the regulations pertaining to face tattoos.

The team at Empire Resume hopes this information about tattoo policies in the military has been helpful. Were always here to help with your career planning needs and deliver results, guaranteed!

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What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Coast Guard

In the Coast Guard, you can have full sleeve and half-sleeve tattoos, full back and chest tattoos, and tattoos elsewhere on your body including your legs.

Members of the Coast Guard arent restricted at all when it comes to tattoo size or percentage of coverage.

However, any body branding cannot be larger than a 4-inch by 4-inch area.

The Guards old policy detailed that tattoos werent allowed to be visible at all above the v-neck undershirt, and they have since expanded to the crew neck t-shirt.

No tattoo can be visible above the Coast Guard crew neck t-shirt.

Hand tattoos are allowed with certain restrictions. You can have one single band ring tattoo on each hand.

You can also have a finger tattoo that can run the length between the first and second knuckle. On top of that you can also have 1 small hand tattoo, per hand, between the wrist and first knuckle , but it cannot extend one inch in any dimension.

The Coast Guard also allows Ultraviolet or black light tattoos.

The restrictions on these are exactly the same as for regular tattoos.

Cosmetic tattoos are also permitted.

Cosmetic tattooing is defined as a medical or surgical procedure conducted by a trained and licensed medical professional.

Some people get cosmetic tattoos to cover up scar tissue, or to otherwise make a medical issue less prominent in appearance.

The Coast Guard is perfectly fine with these types of tattoos.

More On The Army’s Rules

The Army doesn’t allow recruits or soldiers to cover disallowed tattoos with bandages or makeup.

Before soldiers decide to obtain a new tattoo, the regulations advise speaking with a unit leader to make sure the tattoo that’s envisioned will abide by Army rules.

If a soldier is found to have a tattoo that breaks the rules, the commander is instructed to take several steps, beginning with counseling of the soldier about the tattoo rules. If a soldier with a disallowed tattoo or brand refuses to have it removed, then the commander is instructed to initiate administrative separation proceedings.

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Tattoo Guidelines For The Military

The location of the tattoo is sometimes just as important as how the tattoo looks. Any tattoo that is visible from under your clothing will most likely need to be removed before joining the military. These include the hands, wrists, neck, upper chest and other locations. Tattoo removal in Alexandria VA could be needed as its very close to the Pentagon and other Department of Defense organizations that frown upon ink in the workplace.

The size of the tattoo gets taken into consideration as well. Generally, if you have a tattoo larger than the palm of your hand, the military could reject you. If you have a larger tattoo than that, the laser tattoo removal cost in Falls Church, Virginia will be much more expensive.

Quantity is also a potential disqualifier. If you have more than a handful of tattoos scrawled all over your body, the size or location may not even matter. Also, it goes without saying you will likely be rejected if your tattoo has anything derogatory on it. Even if you think a quote or object is harmless, the military could see it as a possible gang-related reference and force you to remove it.

We wont forget the Navy either. You can see theUnited States Navys latest news development around tattoos here, and theAir Forces guidance for tattoos as well.

Understand The Regulations Before You Sign Up


All five military branches restrict tattoo content. Youre going to have to remove any tattoos based on drugs, sex, violence, or gang affiliation. Similarly, your ink cannot discriminate against sex, religion, or race. If your tattoo ticks people off, chances are its going to keep you out of the service, unless you get rid of it. Theres no point in whining over this. If you want to serve your country, youll be facing much bigger decisions, so get it done. Having offensive tattoos covered or removed is a small price to pay.

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Are Hand Neck Or Face Tattoos Allowed In The Navy

Hand and neck tattoos are allowed in the Navy.

Neck tattoos were recently added to the acceptable list of Navy tattoos so long as they are below one inch in diameter.

Tattoos behind the ear are also permitted as long as the ink is not touching the ear directly.

There are some circumstances where a Navy recruiting commander may grant a waiver for having a neck tattoo that exceeds the maximum 1 inch x 1 inch dimensions.

However, face tattoos are still NOT permitted in the United States Navy.

The same is true of the head, scalp, and ears.

What Tattoos Are Not Allowed In The Air Force

Along with creating a more liberal tattoo policy the Air Force also introduced defined locations that are not permitted in the military branch under the 2017 changes.

The Air Force does not allow tattoos on the face, head, scalp, neck, tongue, lips, or eyelids.

Hands are also limited to one ring tattoo on one of the two hands unless grandfathered through an existing policy.

Outside of the seven body parts that are a major no-no, the Air Force essentially allows tattoo placement elsewhere.

The second aspect of military tattoos that the Air Force assesses is the content of body art.

The Air Force, like every other branch, prohibits tattoos with content:

  • Considered obscene under USAF guidelines.
  • Associated with gang activity.
  • Extremist or supremacist in nature.
  • Sexist or racist tattoos.
  • Ethnic or religious discriminatory tattoos.

Inappropriate tattoos listed above are not authorized on any part of the body, even if the soldier can cover up the offensive content in uniform.

It is difficult for the Air Force to list every type of obscene or offensive tattoo.

Therefore, commanding officers are assigned the privilege of determining which tattoos violate the Air Force tattoo policy.

If you are unsure if your tattoo constitutes a violation you should bring the subject up when speaking to a recruiter.

Waivers are sometimes granted to military personnel that would otherwise violate the USAF tattoo policy.

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Coast Guard Tattoo Policy

The coastal defense and maritime law enforcement branch of our Armed Forces The US Coast Guard is one of our countrys uniformed services.

And as such, they hold their personnel and service members to a high standard.

Like the other branches of military discussed in this article, the Coast Guard periodically reviews and updates their tattoo and branding policy to keep up with the times and our changing culture.

The Coast Guards latest tattoo policy was unveiled late 2016.

And according to Kurt B. Hinrichs /s/ Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Director of Reserve and Military Personnel, the changes to the policy are minimal but important.

The report released by Hinrichs explains that the policy update is to ensure our workforce presents a sharp, professional military appearance to the public while also allowing individual expression through authorized body art that is consistent with the Coast Guards core values.

It seems as though the Coast Guard is keeping in step with the trend thats being followed by all military branches.

That is, theyre loosening up to attract recruits from the largest recruiting pool possible, without sacrificing core values.

But these changes in their tattoo policy arent for new recruits only.

Rather, according to the report, All Coast Guard unit commanders, commanding officers, officers-in-charge, deputy/assistant commandants, and chiefs of headquarters staff elements shall comply with the provisions of this Instruction.

Can You Get A Waiver For Tattoos In The National Guard


The National Guard will consider granting waivers for tattoos that would otherwise violate its tattoo policy, according to a memo released by the National Guard in 2019.

There are procedures that a member of the National Guard must take to apply for a waiver, which you can learn more about by speaking to an officer or ARC.

In general, the National Guard will much more likely approve tattoos that violate placement restrictions compared to content.

The National Guard, like other military branches, traditionally has a zero-tolerance policy on tattoos that are considered offensive.

Additionally, PS/GNPS applications with previously documented tattoos on the neck or hands can get grandfathered in under National Guard guidelines.

The National Guard leaves it up to a Recruiting and Retention Commander to make an initial determination on tattoos that may violate the tattoo policy.

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Hand Ear And Neck Tattoos Now Ok For Soldiers Amid Recruiting Crunch

The military is struggling to find recruits right now, and the Army is no exception. With three months remaining in fiscal 2022, the service has only attained 40% of its enlisted recruiting goal, according to Army G-1 spokesperson Maj. Angel Tomko.

And thats part of why Army Secretary Christine Wormuth issued a new policy authorizing troops to have small tattoos on their hands, ears and necks, Army officials explained Thursday morning.

Wormuth signed a directive Wednesday that expanded the services acceptable tattoo policy. The changes will be incorporated in the next update to AR 670-1, the Armys appearance regulation.

The following tattoos are now authorized, according to the directive:

  • One visible tattoo on each hand less than one inch in measurement. This tattoo cannot be on the fingers, though one ring tattoo per hand is okay, as are an unlimited number of tattoos between the fingers, as long as they are not visible when the fingers are closed.
  • One tattoo on the back of a soldiers neck, less than two inches in measurement.
  • One tattoo behind each ear, no larger than one inch in measurement and not extending beyond the ear lobe.

Sgt. Maj. Ashleigh Sykes, who oversees uniform and appearance policy for the services personnel directorate, cautioned that some ink still isnt okay.

What Tattoos Are Allowed In The National Guard

Both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard are expected to follow the same physical standards and moral character as full-time active-duty recruits.

Therefore, much of the same language in terms of what is allowed for physical presence in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force also apply to the National Guard.

The National Guard mandates that all applicants for service are screened for tattoos based on Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, AR 670-1.

Consequently, the National Guard tattoo policy is very similar to the policy set forth by the U.S. Army.

Its also vaguely similar to the Air Force tattoo policy, although that branch is considered a bit more strict on what they do and do NOT allow.

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British/uk Army Tattoo Policy

In the British Army, there are some general guidelines for tattoos. If a tattoo is offensive or threatening in nature, it will be judged as unacceptable for the army. The policy also states that tattoos may not be displayed when in uniform and members must cover them up if they are displayed while out of uniform. There are also guidelines about types of tattoos that may not be accepted due to religious or cultural sensitivities, such as Japanese characters or images associated with gangs.

The British Army does have some rules regarding tattoos, which may affect your decision whether to get one. When you join the British Army, the soldiers have to provide you with a copy of their tattoo policy. It says that if your tattoo is offensive or threatening in nature, it will be judged as unacceptable for the army. The same goes for any tattoos that are religiously or culturally sensitive.

The policy also states that tattoos are not acceptable on men while they are serving in uniform and the soldier must cover them up if they are displayed while out of uniform. You should also ensure that your tattoo has no religious or cultural significance before bringing it to the attention of your commanding officer, who may object to its display.

If you have a tattoo that will restrict your movement, then youll probably have to try and hide it from your commanding officer, as it may prejudice their decision whether to allow you to go on operations or deploy to areas where the climate is hot.

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Examples Of Army Offensive Tattoos

Here are the main types of tattoos the U.S. Army analyzes and may prohibit you from enlisting in the military:

  • Sexist Tattoos: Soldiers are not allowed to have body art that advocates a philosophy that degrades or demeans a person based on gender.
  • Racist Tattoos: Soldiers are not allowed to have body ink that degrades or demeans a person based on race, ethnicity, or national origin.
  • Extremist Tattoos: The Army determines extremist tattoos as body art affiliated with, depicting, or symbolizing extremist philosophies, organizations, or activities. The Army has zero-tolerance toward organizations that promote racial or gender intolerance.
  • Indecent Tattoos: The Army clarifies that indecent tattoos are grossly offensive to modesty, decency, propriety, or professionalism. The definition of indecent tattoos in the Army is fairly loose. It might include body art like a character flipping the bird or using the restroom on another object.

Lastly, branding tattoos are not authorized in the U.S. Army.

Military personnel are prohibited from having tattoos, including brands on the head, face, and neck.

There are several commonly asked questions regarding the Army tattoo policy:

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