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Air Force Officer Tattoo Policy

Can You Have A Full Sleeve Tattoo In The Air Force

USAF changing tattoo policy

Yes, under the recent changes in 2017 the Air Force now allows tattoo sleeves.

It is possible to have a half or full sleeve tattoo on the arms or legs in the Air Force.

Previously, airmen were not allowed to have tattoos that covered 25% of their body which largely made tattoo sleeves unauthorized.

However, the new changes have granted more leeway for airmen to represent themselves on the arms or legs without violating the Air Force tattoo policy.

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.

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Air Force Relaxes Tattoo Policy Allows Sleeves

The Air Force on Tuesday announced it will no longer limit the size of airmen’s body tattoos, in a significant shift that opens up the door to popular sleeve tattoos.

The policy change is slated to take effect Feb. 1.

The change in regulations will allow both arm and leg sleeves, Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, deputy chief of staff for Air Force manpower, personnel and services, told in an exclusive interview Friday at the Pentagon.

“As a next step in this evolution, we are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement.

The service is axing its “25 percent rule,” which prohibits tattoos that cover more than a quarter of an exposed body part. That rule was added to the Air Force Guidance Memorandum, or AFI 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance,” in 1998, then updated with a measuring tool in 2010, said Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis.

Tattoos will now be allowed on the chest, back, arms and legs and will not be restricted to size, according to Grosso. “Size will not be a factor anymore,” she said.

Grosso added, “Old policy, current policy, anything that’s inappropriate, racist, sexist, inappropriate picture — those have never been acceptable and will still not be acceptable.”

Does The Piercing Policy Apply To All Areas Of The Military Installation

New Air Force Tattoo Policy 2017!

It does, but it is also important to note the policy only addresses personal appearance issues while on the installation.

Although the Air Force encourages airmen to maintain an appropriate military image at all times, piercing practices off base, such as earring wear by males, are not intended to be addressed by this policy.

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What Air Force Tattoos Are Allowed

Well, for starters, Airmen can sport tattoos that are nearly 100% the size of their body.

As previously mentioned, the Air Force has lifted the 25% rule , and for good reason.

Recruiters were aware of the fact that nearly half of all millenials had a tattoo.

But what they quickly realized was that 1 in every 5 of the recruits who did have tattoos had tattoos that required review and were potentially disqualifying.

And the #1 disqualifier turned out to be the 25% rule.

Go figure.

Today, with that rule out the window, Airmen can have virtually any size tattoo, or grouping of tattoos, anywhere on their chest, back, arms, legs, and feet.

Ah, yes, the feet! Here is where the Air Force differs from other branches as well.

They allow tattoos on the feet below the ankle line.

In other words, Airmen can get inked up to their hearts content .

Sleeves anyone?

Its true, this means the USAF now allows sleeve tattoos full-sleeves or half-sleeves, or anything in-between is now perfectly acceptable.

Hand tattoos are technically allowed, but as mentioned, theyre limited to one ring tattoo on one hand only.

According to one news report, Current Airmen with existing hand tattoos that were authorized under the previous policy will be grandfathered in under the old policy standards.

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What Is The Officer Development System

All cadets go through a four-year developmental process, called the Officer Development System , where each class receives training commensurate with their level of cadet experience. The training is tough, and during your first year at the U.S. Air Force Academy your free time will be very limited. It is designed for a definite purpose: to teach you to accomplish delegated tasks in a professional and proficient manner, thus paving the way for progression to becoming an upper-class cadet and ultimately becoming an officer of character. Cadets develop leadership and command skills throughout their four years at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and as they progress, they take on more responsibility. As cadets take on more responsibilities, they also have fewer restrictions on how they spend their free time. Likewise, during the spring semester of your fourth-class year, there is some relaxation of the restrictions in order to prepare you for greater privileges and different responsibilities in the third-class year.

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What Happens If You Get A Tattoo Before Basic Training

If you get a tattoo before basic training, it will depend on what tattoo you have and where it is. If you get a tattoo that is on the Air Force banned list before you start your basic training, then it is highly likely that the Air Force will not let you start your training.

If you have already completed your final physical for MEPS, then you’ll want to discuss the repercussions with your recruiter if you get a new tattoo that wasn’t previously reported. You may risk having to go back to MEPS to have it reported. You might want to consider waiting on any new tattoos until after BMT and Tech School graduation.

The banned list includes visible tattoos and obscene or discriminatory tattoos. If you were to get one of these banned tattoos before you shipped to basic training, then you run a high risk of being booted out of the Delayed Enlistment Program for disobeying the rules.

However, if the tattoo in question is within the allowed limits, you will likely be fine. You may just want to consider the healing time needed for a tattoo and how the training might affect it.

New tattoos are prone to infection and often need a few weeks of healing time. There may also be restrictions on how often you can shower with a very new tattoo, which may interfere with your training if you get sweaty or dirty.


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Popeye The Sailor Man

U.S. Air Force Changes Tattoo Policy

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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Raf Officer Tattoo Policy

Rex Craymer Man of Danger




Bar to service

At OASC ‘everything’ about you is ‘evidence’ of likely success.If you have no tatts, stay that way until you are in.If you really wants tatts asap then at least have them say something positive about you.Perhaps have Air Vice Marshal stripes tattood on your shoulders and an RAF roundel on each buttock.DT_Xtremez_19:

Air Force’s Expanded Medical Waiver Policy Admits More
    Air Force Relaxes Tattoo Policy, Allows Sleeves … and the mix of enlisted to officer applicants varies by waiver authority or accession sources,” he said. … Per Pentagon policy, those with any …

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Tattoo Content Thats Prohibited

As far as the content of prohibited tattoos, here are guidelines to be aware of.

Similar to the U.S. Navy and Army, the Marine Corps does NOT allow any tattoo that is prejudicial to good order and discipline or any tattoos that are drug related, gang-related, extremist, obscene or indecent, sexist, or racist.

Also, its worth noting a recent development that was communicated by Marine Corps Service Recruiter Staff Sgt. Justin Eckersley in a social post titled Tattoo Leniency Alert!

He wrote that the Marine Forces Reserve will allow prior service Marines who have out of regulation tattoos to join the reserves in certain circumstances.

According to Eckersley, one of the caveats is that the tattoos cannot be egregious or racist or located on the face, hands, etc. And this lenient tattoo policy waiver isnt for everyone.

Rather, its specifically designed for the Marines who have left the service and have at least 12 months remaining in the Individual Ready Reserves and an actual billet at the reserve unit.

In the end, this leniency allows the Corps to bring back quality Marines who would have otherwise been disqualified from consideration.

Coast Guard Tattoo Regulations

Tattoo Policy For Each Branch Of The Military In 2021 ...

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 branding cant be larger than a 4-inch by 4-inch area.


  • No tattoo can be visible above the Coast Guard crew neck t-shirt.
  • 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. You can also have one 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 the same as for regular tattoos.

As far as donts, the Coast Guard also prohibits the tattoos listed above. Other than that, you have free rein to use your body as a canvas.

For more details on the Coast Guards policy on tattoos, review its memo on uniform regulations and visit its website.

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Tattoos And Body Piercings

The ADF has a strict policy regarding personal appearance. The acceptability of tattoos and body piercings will be assessed on a case by case basis by Defence Force Recruiting.

If you are considering getting either please contact us for guidance as this may affect your application. Find out more about our tattoo and piercings policy in the FAQs section of these web pages.

I Have A Child I Heard That I Must Relinquish Custody Before Attending The Us Air Force Academy Why

Applying students who have had a child must provide a court order stating they have NO parental rights to the child whatsoever. This is different than just giving family members a power of attorney or temporary custody. The court order must indicate total and complete relinquishment of parental rights. Parental rights must be given to someone while you are a cadet for several reasons. The rationale includes, but is not limited to, all cadets are required to live in the dorms all four years your stipend is not enough to provide for the needs of a child and the cadet lifestyle is a demanding one and your attention will need to be focused on your task at hand, not on your child. You may also not have a spouse while at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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Disciplinary Actions For Unauthorized Tattoos In The Air Force

Service members who have unauthorized tattoos, brands, or body markings are required to remove them.

Airmen must perform the removal of tattoos at a medical treatment center on their own.

Airmen who refuse to remove the tattoo within the specified time are subject to a range of consequences, including, but not limited to:

  • Reprimand

I Have A Tattoo A Brand Or A Piercing Can I Be Admitted

Air Force Tattoos Policy

While having a tattoo, brand or body marking does not automatically disqualify you from consideration, it must meet the standards outlined in Air Force Instruction 36-2903: Tattoos, brands or body markings anywhere on the body that are indecent commonly associated with gangs, extremist and supremacist organizations advocate sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination or project an improper military or cadet image are prohibited. Tattoos, brands or body markings located on the hands, head, neck, face, tongue, lips, eyes and scalp are prohibited, except as may be permitted in AFI 36-2903. You may review AFI 36-2903, Chapter 3, for more information. If offered an appointment and you accept, you will have to complete AF Form 4428 with your Admissions Liaison Officer disclosing information on your tattoo/brand/body marking, such as location, size and significance. The form will be maintained in your personnel file throughout your Air Force career.

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Piercing While Not In Uniform

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.

Tattoo Removal For Military Service Members

If you are considering a career in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or even the Coast Guard, you need to know about their restrictions on tattoos. Each branch of the armed forces differs in what it will allow, but all of them have one thing in common: if you have certain kinds of tattoos, or tattoos that cover too much of your body, you will not be allowed to enlist. Whats more, even if your tattoos are within the range of what is permissible, they may end up hindering your ability to progress and be promoted beyond a certain rank.

Because of this, if you are looking for a fresh start so you can begin an active duty career, you might want to consider laser tattoo removal. While other options do exist in certain circumstancessuch as simply covering the offending tattoo with something that complies with the existing regulationslaser tattoo removal is great option to help get you eligible to enlist.

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What Are The Disciplinary Actions For Having An Unauthorized Tattoo In The Air Force

According to the Air Force tattoo policy, service members who have or receive unauthorized tattoos, brands, or body markings are required to initiate removal or alteration.

Airmen may have the opportunity to receive tattoo removal at a medical treatment facility or must do so on their own accord.

Airmen that refuse to remove or alter unauthorized body art in a timely manner are subject to a variety of appropriate quality force actions.

It includes but not limited to reprimand, UIF, control roster, referral EPRs/OPRs, military justice action, ineligibility for schools and assignments, or administrative discharge.

Cosmetics: A Gray Area In Military Tattoo Policies

Air Force Tattoo Policy for 2021: What IS and ISN

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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Can You Have A Tattoo Behind Your Ear In The Air Force

No, you will not be able to have a tattoo behind your ear in the Air Force. Whilst it is covered by an ear and possibly hair, there is still a chance that the tattoo may be seen, and therefore against regulations.

As it stands, any tattoo on the head or face is banned, and, seeing as a tattoo behind the ear is still technically on the head, it will not be allowed in the Air Force.

As well as a ban on tattoos behind the ear, the Air Force also has rules regarding piercings of any kind, especially visible piercings on the face or ears.

Of course, piercings can be taken out, but tattoos cannot be as easily removed unless you want to fork out for expensive laser removal .

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