Future Of Armed Forces Tattoo Policy
The acknowledgement by top Army officials regarding outdated tattoo policy is a good sign when it comes to remaining viable and maintaining acceptable recruitment numbers. Just like any organization, the United States Army must constantly adapt to changing attitudes. Sometimes this means reexamining different rules and regulations in light of wider societys current trends.
As tattoos continue to gain popularity among the youth forming the pool from which the armed forces draws recruits, it is likely Army policy may need further updates. Given the growing popularity of face and neck tattoos there may a time in the future when officials have to further relax guidelines in order to find recruits, although for anyone interested in enlisting it is best to get tattoos conforming to current official guidelines.
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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.
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:
- 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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Military Tattoo Regulations On Body Placement
Military tattoo regulations on tattoo body location are different for each branch of the military. The Navy has the most relaxed military tattoo regulations, while the Coast Guard is the most restrictive. When choosing where to serve, it is critical to understand the current military tattoo regulations for that branch. Tattoo regulations are continually evolving. If youre unsure about any tattoos you have, its best to talk to a recruiter for the branch of the military you want to join. Then youll know which tattoos you can keep an which tattoos you will need to remove.
Navy Tattoo Policy
The Navy just overhauled their regulation 2201 for tattoos in March of 2016. Sailors are now allowed to have multiple visible large tattoos on the arms and legs, they just cant be visible through your dress whites. Tattoos are now allowed on the hands. You can have one tattoo visible on the neck no larger than one inch in any direction. Tattoos on the head, face and scalp are prohibited. Navy Tattoo Regulations can be found here.
Army Tattoo Policy
Army tattoo regulations 670-1 for tattoos was last updated in April of 2015. If you have tattoos on your hands, wrist face, neck or head, youll need to have those tattoos removed to join the Army. Additionally, the Army will not accept you if you have tattoos inside your mouth, ears, or eyelids. Army Tattoo Regulations can be found here.
Air Force Tattoo Policy
Coast Guard Policy
Air Force Tattoo Regulations
The Air Force is pretty lax when it comes to servicemembers with tattoos. Airmen have no restrictions as to the tattoo size.
The following tattoos are allowed:
- Airmen are allowed a single ring tattoo on one finger, on one hand
- Half or full sleeve tattoos
- Feet tattoos
You will notice, the Air Force is currently the only branch that allows feet tattoos.
As far as tattoo donts in the Air Force, just like other branches, there cannot be any tattoos on your face, neck, head, lips, or eyelids.
Be sure to keep up with the latest on the Air Force tattoo policy as policies are always subject to change.
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Us Army Tattoo Policy Prior To 2015
In 2015 the US Army revised its existing policy regarding the number of tattoos a soldier can have on their arms and legs. Prior to this update in regulations soldiers were limited to four tattoos below the knee or elbow, with none exceeding the size of the palm of the hand.
While the Armed Forces still prioritize higher standards of grooming and cleanliness, officials also realized the need to adapt to the changing world and evolving attitudes regarding tattoos. With nearly half of all millennials getting tattooed, something had to change.
According to Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, Society is changing its view of tattoos, and we have to change along with that. It makes sense. Soldiers have grown up in an era when tattoos are much more acceptable and we have to change along with that.
More Ink On Heads Fingers Allowed In Updated Coast Guard Tattoo Policy
Coast Guard men, women and recruits now have more options to show off tattoos on their fingers or behind their ears under a new policy the service announced Monday.
The new finger regulation allows service members to get a tattoo anywhere between their first knuckle and fingertip, or on the top or side of the finger, in an area that “may be visible at the position of attention.”
The Coast Guard previously had stipulated that a single finger tattoo could be placed per hand but needed to be between the first and second knuckle. Any ring tattoo counts as the single finger tattoo allowed on that hand.
The new rules also allow for a single tattoo no larger than an inch wide to be placed behind one ear.
Hand tattoos remain authorized as long as they are no more than an inch wide. One finger and one hand tattoo are allowed on each hand, according to policy, published as ALCOAST Commandant Notice 113/21.
The Coast Guard last updated its tattoo policy in 2019 to broaden the pool of potential recruits and allow members flexibility in decorating their bodies.
Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said in his first “State of the Coast Guard Address” in 2019 that the service’s leadership needed to look at its policies to draw service members and retain them.
All the military services have issued updates in recent years to address similar concerns, as well as trends in the general population where they hope to attract recruits.
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Questions About Tattoos And Tattoo Removal
It is common to have questions about your tattoos, or about the tattoo removal process. If you are not sure whether one of your tattoos will keep you from enlisting, be sure to talk with your recruiter and review the applicable regulations. If you have questions about laser tattoo removal, feel free to contact us. We are happy to sit down with you, assess your tattoos, and give you a realistic idea of the amount of time, cost, and the number of treatment sessions that it will take to remove them.
We are thrilled that you are considering making a career out of serving our great country. And we are here to do whatever we can to help make your dream a reality. Contact us today for a consultation, and lets get started!
What Should Marines Who Have Tattoos Banned By Policy Changes Do
If you are already have a tattoo that is in violation of the new Marine Corps tattoo policy and youre an active duty or reserve Marine, you should contact you chain of command to request an Exception to Policy .
If youre planning to join the Marine Corps and have a tattoo that violates these policies, you may also request an ETP, though the Marine Corps points out that they are rarely approved.
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Can You Go To The Navy With Tattoos
The Navy is easing its tattoo policy in a bid to recruit and retain more sailors from the millennial generation, of whom more than 1 in 3 sport body art. Sailors will be allowed to have neck tattoos , sleeves and even markings behind their ears under the new policy, the most lenient of any military service.
Can You Be In The Air Force With Tattoos
Tattoos, brands or piercings anywhere on the body that are prejudicial to good order and discipline, or of a nature that may bring discredit upon the Air Force, are prohibited both in and out of uniform. Tattoos, brands, and body markings are prohibited on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips, and scalp.
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Rules About Tattoo Locations
Head: Tattoos on the head or neck, including in or around the mouth area, are prohibited.
Chest and Back: Tattoos on the chest or back must be below the collarbone and seventh cervical vertebrae . Tattoos on the chest or back must be covered by wearing a properly fitting crewneck t-shirt with no portion of the tattoo showing.
Lower Arms: Lower arm tattoos may extend down no further than a line around the circumference of the wrist measured at the wrist bone.
Hands/Fingers/Wrists: Tattoos are prohibited on the hands and fingers with the exception of a singleband tattoo of no more than 3/8 of an inch in width on one finger of each hand.
What Is Not Allowed
Despite the fact that the armys tattoo policy has been slightly relaxed in order to provide room for new recruits, there are still certain rules guiding soldiers in getting a tattoo.
Although soldiers are permitted to have tattoos, below are some things that are not allowed by the army as far as getting tattoos is concerned.
It is important to note that the prohibition of certain types of tattoo is not without cause.
The army is an organization and it is important for the unity of the Force to be reflected in the appearance of the soldiers.
Even though the unique personality of each Soldier is respected, drawing unnecessary attention to oneself in the army is not tolerated.
This is because the soldiers despite being individuals are considered to be a part of something bigger and the interest of the army must be put ahead of personal preferences.
Its on this basis that the army has a policy guiding getting tattooed while in active service.
Certain types of tattoo are not allowed in the army. Below is a list of the types of tattoos that are not allowed.
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What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Navy
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.
Popeye The Sailor Man
While Popeye is a Sailor Man, and therefore a card-carrying member of the good ol U.S. Navy, hes a go-to for Coast Guardsmen who are looking for a great tattoo.
Dont be too surprised if you come across loads of Popeye-themed tattoos on Coasties young and old.
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National Guard Tattoo Policy
The US National Guard is an important branch of the United States Armed Forces. The National Guard and Air National Guard are reserve forces, which means that those that serve do so on a part-time basis while also holding civilian jobs. Removery often sees clients who plan to join the National Guard but have tattoos that violate their tattoo policy.
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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,
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.
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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.