ExclusiveCan You Go Into The Army With Tattoos

Can You Go Into The Army With Tattoos


Piercing While Not In Uniform

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

Members are prohibited from attaching, affixing or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to or through the ear, nose, tongue, or any exposed body part .

There is an exception women are authorized to wear one small spherical, conservative, diamond, gold, white pearl, silver pierced, or clip earring per earlobe and the earring worn in each earlobe must match. Earrings should fit tightly without extending below the earlobe. If the earring is a clip, the band can show.

Can I Join The Army With A Tattoo

One of the most common questions we get is Can I Join the Army if I have a Tattoo. This article answers that question and outlines what types of tattoos may keep you from joining the U.S. Army.

You will NEVER be allowed to enlist in the Regular Army, Army Reserves, or Army National Guard if you have any of the non-waivable disqualifying tattoos below. Depending on abundance of recruits, standards may be more strict than listed:

  • Tattoos located on the head, face, neck, wrists, hands, or fingers
  • Tattoos which are extreme, sexist, indecent, or racist
  • Having more than four tattoos located below the knee or between the elbow and wrist

As part of efforts to maintain the professional appearance of the force, the Army dialed back the number, size and placement of tattoos in the March regulation.

Previously authorized tattoos were grandfathered in, but Soldiers hoping to become an officer had to get an exception to the policy.

The updated regulation takes into account that previously authorized tattoos should not prevent a Soldier from becoming an officer, but that candidates are to be evaluated based on the whole Soldier concept, or all characteristics of a Soldier.

Here is the latest policy on tattoos from Army Regulation 670-1 :

33. Tattoo, Branding, and Body Mutilation PolicyNote: This paragraph is punitive with regard to Soldiers. Violation by Soldiers may result in adverse administrative action and/or charges under the provisions of the UCMJ.

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.

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Tattoos And The Military: The Dos And Donts If You Want To Join The Service

A lot of people have tattoos, and our reasons for getting them range from acknowledging meaningful, life-changing moments to a weekend bender in L.A., New York, or Miami that ends up at an ink shop. Its your body and you can put whatever you want wherever you want. Right? Well, that depends on your future plans. Pay attention to what comes next if you plan to join the military after high school or college or if youre already in the armed services.

This next line is tough for me to get out, but your mama was right: Think before you ink. Each of the armed services has different regulations that change on a continuing basis. If youre already in the service, your existing tattoos are grandfathered in, but the doesnt mean they cant hurt your chances at a promotion. Also, new tattoos have to meet the stricter requirements, which leads to my next point.

If you tend to make rash decisions after drinking, make sure at least one of your buddies has your back. You might want to pick someone big enough to deter you from making stupid things that involve a tattoo shop. Anything thats going to follow you to the grave deserves deliberate intention, so if you hanker for body art, plan it out and go to a reputable place that understands military regulations. Dont drink then ink.

Laser Tattoo Removal Can Give You A Fresh Start

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If you are considering enlisting in any branch of the armed forces, and you have tattoos that you think could pose a problem, laser tattoo removal could be just what you need. Using the latest technology, we can work on your tattoo safely, quickly, and effectively.

We understand that it is a bummer to have a prohibited tattoo and want to enlist in the military. Fortunately, with the advanced technology available today, even a tattoo doesnt have to be forever and there is still a chance for you to enlist!

Your recruiter might have mentioned that you can get a waiver for your tattoo. While waivers are possible in some circumstances, you do not want to hang your entire career on the hope that you will get one. Whats more, even if you do get a waiver, you cannot be sure that the offending tattoo will not sabotage your career by hindering future promotions.

Keep in mind that tattoo removal can take some time, and may require more than one treatment session. As such, you should be diligent to plan accordingly when it comes to scheduling your tattoo removal treatment. Dont wait until the week before you are supposed to visit the Military Entrance Processing Station . Rather, schedule your consultation as soon as you can, and we can help you get started on the road to establishing your military career.

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Military Tattoo Policy And Joining The Military

Another recurring line of questioning in future military personnel is the issue of tattoos. We live in an era that emphasizes the importance of expression that takes on the form of what previous generations considered mutilation. Whether or not that kind of accusation holds any weight is normally left up to the individual.

But for those joining the military, its a different story. Although there exists a long history between the military and tattoos, all U.S. military branches have standards about where, what, how much, and how many their members can have prior to

enlistment, and during service. These regulations ensure that all personnel maintain appearance standards for the given branch, much in the same way each branch maintains standards concerning uniforms and uniform appearance. In addition, as it applies to the content of the artwork, military regulation on tattoos is also in place to minimize the establishment of unnecessary divisions or senseless conflict between service members.

As is often the case, each branch has its own definition of what amount of ink is acceptable, as well as the content and location. During MEPS, recruits will be given a full physical to verify that he or she is fit for duty. During this time, you will be looked over by a military doctor, who will assess if your artwork violates any of the military tattoo policy.

According to Navy regulations, enlistment standards are based on four criteria,


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.

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Commanders Can Issue Additional Guidance

There may be situations where the commander can restrict the wear of non-visible body ornaments. Those situations would include any body ornamentation that interferes with the performance of the members military duties.

The factors to be evaluated in making this determination include, but are not limited to: impairs the safe and effective operation of weapons, military equipment, or machinery poses a health or safety hazard to the wearer or others or interferes with the proper wear of special or protective clothing or equipment .

Installation or higher commanders may impose more restrictive standards for tattoos and body ornaments, on or off duty, in those locations where the Air Force-wide standards may not be adequate to address cultural sensitivities or mission requirements .

The Air Force has implemented a policy which prohibits body mutilation, such as split tongues.

What Tattoos Are Not Allowed In The Air Force

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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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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.

Can You Have A Full Sleeve Tattoo In The Marine Corps

In general, the rule is no you cannot have a full sleeve tattoo in the Marine Corps.

The reason is that the military branch restricts ink two inches above and below the knee.

The same is true of the knee which limits full sleeves on the legs.

However, it is possible to have a tattoo sleeve in the Marines that begins on the chest or shoulder and extends down the upper arm.

In order to remain in compliance, the sleeve must stop at least two inches above the elbow.

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Can You Get A Waiver For Tattoos In The Coast Guard

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.

Can You Have A Full Sleeve Tattoo In The Coast Guard

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Yes, the Coast Guard does not place any restrictions on arm or leg tattoos, unlike the U.S. Marines.

Military personnel in the Coast Guard are allowed to sport both full and half-sleeve tattoos on the arms or legs.

Just make sure that the content of the tattoo sleeve does not violate any of the inappropriate/offensive issues listed under the Coast Guard tattoo policy.

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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 .

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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What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Army

The U.S. Army prides itself on a clean and neat presentation.

However, the military branch has adapted to modern social norms where nearly half of all Millenials have at least one tattoo.

The Army revised its tattoo policy during the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to open up a larger recruiting pool.

Tattoos and brands are defined by the U.S. Army as permanent markings that are difficult to reverse in terms of financial cost, discomfort, and effectiveness of removal techniques.

The Army tattoo policy no longer limits the number of tattoos on a solider.

Additionally, the size of tattoos is also not scrutinized near as much as previous generations.

As a result, members of the Army are allowed to have as many tattoos as they want on their chest, arms, torso, and legs.

It is an adaptation of a previous Army tattoo policy that limited the number of tattoos to four below the elbow and knee.

However, the skin below the wrist and from the neck up is still off-limits.

The only exception to the hand is a ring tattoo, with one being permitted per hand.

What Is The Meaning Behind A Military Tattoo

The Army’s Tattoo Policy

As the year passed, the doe den tap toe became showier and showier. The accessories were added like searchlights and floodlights. By the late 19th century, it had evolved to be almost like a festival in garrison and military towns, particularly during summertime. These continued even between the World Wars. Nowadays, military tattoos occur in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Needless to say, there are good reasons why military tattoos are held across so many continents.

The meaning that a tattoo carries is military custom and heritage. In a way, it is a celebration of the military and a means of demonstrating the military body.

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