Different Branches Similar Policies
For the most part the regulations concerning tattoos are fairly similar from one military branch to another, with some minor differences.
Most notably, the US Navy has a more relaxed approach regarding size and placement of tattoos on the arms and legs. In fact, thanks to recent changes, sailors with full sleeve ink are now eligible for placement at Recruiting Training Command and Recruitment Command positions.
The Navy also now permits sailors one neck tattoo, as long as it doesnt exceed one inch in diameter, and hand tattoos remain on the table. Given the historical significance of tattoos in the navy this relaxed stance isnt surprising.
Conversely, the US Marine Corps is more strict than Army policy. Marines are only allowed four visible tattoos outside of their physical training uniform of crew neck t-shirt and shorts, none of which can exceed the size of the palm of the hand. Tattoos on the back and torso that are obscured by this uniform are unrestricted regarding size, placement and number.
All branches of the United States Armed Forces follow the same guidelines prohibiting racist, sexist, extremist and offensive designs.
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.
Air Force Tattoo Ideas And Meanings
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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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.
What Can You Do If Your Tattoo Doesnt Meet Military Standards
Laser tattoo removal is your best option for getting rid of unwanted ink that violates the military standard. While the military will not pay for your removal, many laser clinics offer military discounts. At MEDermis Laser Clinic were proud to offer 10% off individual treatments or an additional 10% off our discounted prepaid packages to all active military personnel.
- Before and after 3 laser treatments with MEDermis
- Before and after 5 laser treatments with MEDermis
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Tattoos And The Military
Tattoos and the military have been paired since the days of the Roman army. Roman soldiers would receive tattoos of dots marking their membership in the army and in particular units. The sleazy side of tattoos goes back that far, too. For many Romans, tattoos were a mark worn by slaves and criminals rather than by proud soldiers.
The practice remained popular in Christian Europe until the eighth century C.E, when the Roman Catholic Church outlawed tattooing. In the 1700s, however, English sailors encountered foreign cultures that practiced tattooing and they began getting their own tats. The practice soon spread to America. A tattoo of a regimental insignia not only encouraged group bonding, it helped identify bodies in days before dog tags and DNA identification.
Tattoos on military members remained a thing, but the Pentagon hasn’t always been comfortable with that. The Coast Guard, for instance, wants its members to present a sharp, professional military appearance, while allowing for personal expression through skin art. The same is true of the other branches: tattoos are tolerated, but they mustn’t be excessive.
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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Coast Guard Tattoos: What’s Allowed
Changes to the military tattoo policies have made them more or less uniform across the American armed forces. In the Coast Guard, tattoos are allowed as long as they’re reasonably discreet. You can cover your chest in ink, for instance, as long as nothing’s visible above the neck of your T-shirt. Sleeves are fine, and leg tattoos are acceptable.
Coast Guard tattoos are acceptable on your hands, up to a length of 1 inch, but not extending past the first knuckle closest to the wrist. In addition you can have a finger tattoo on each hand, no longer than first to second knuckle, plus one ring tattoo. The ring can’t be on your thumb.
You cannot have Coast Guard tattoos on the face, head, neck, scalp, tongue, lips or eyelids. The service also bans tattoos that represent racism or discrimination, indecency, extremist views, lawlessness or violence. Sexually explicit tattoos are another no-go. The other services are more or less on the same page, but they are more restrictive on hand tattoos. The Navy is the only branch that allows visible neck tattoos.
Can You Have A Tattoo In The Air Force
Joining the Air Force seems like the coolest idea in the world until your Air Force veteran uncle tells you that you can’t join because of your sleeve. Times have changed, the and Air Force has finally followed other services in relaxing tattoo policies.
In this article, we are going to be exploring the conundrum of tattoos and what they mean within the Air Force.
We will be paying close attention to whether tattoos are allowed, and then looking at what kinds of tattoos are allowed and where on your body they can be.
So, if you have considered joining the Air Force but also want a tattoo , this article will be helpful for you!
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Tattoos That Are Allowed Under Army Rules
Generally, the Army’s tattoo policy allows most tattoos but forbids most of those that would be visible in uniform.
The Army regulations do, however, allow one ring tattoo on each hand, although it must not extend beyond where a ring naturally would rest on your finger .
As a result of these placement and visibility rules, tattoos and brands are not allowed on:
- Your head
- Your neck above the t-shirt line
- Inside your eyelids, mouth or ears
- Your wrists
- Your hands
So-called “permanent makeup,” which includes tattoos used as permanent eyebrows or eyeliner, is allowed as long as it follows the Army’s rules on makeup. Those rules, covered in the same Army regulation, allow makeup only for women, and require the makeup to be “applied modestly and conservatively.”
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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Options For Recruits Looking For A Fresh Start
As mentioned, tattoo rules vary by military branch. No matter branch you hope to join, tattoos on the face, neck, and hands are highly regulated . Covering up a face, neck, or hand tattoo will usually not be an option. Most recruits with these tattoos or other tattoos such as sleeve tattoos, tattoos with sexist or extremist messages, and other tattoos that radically alter their personal appearance will benefit from visiting a tattoo removal clinic.
Are Army Officers Allowed To Have Tattoos
Yes, officers of the Army can still have tattoos.
The Army tattoo policy for 2021 is different from previous regulations that held commanding officers to higher physical appearance standards compared to enlisted soldiers.
The new policy basically holds officers to the same rules as enlisted soldiers when it comes to tattoos.
Commanding officers are also responsible for determining if a soldier under their watch gets a new tattoo that is deemed offensive.
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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.
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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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:
All other branches prohibit neck tattoos visible above a crew neck shirt.
Military Rules On Tattoos
Any visible tattoos can stop people from being accepted into the military.
The Army relaxed their rules on tattoos in 2014 allowing them on the back of a hand or back of a neck.
Originally soldiers could only have them on the upper arm as they could be hidden by uniform.
However, tattoos that are obscene, ie those that depict sex acts, violence or illegal drugs for example are a no-no.
In 2013-14, the Army rejected 336 applications because of offensive or inappropriately placed tattoos, a Freedom of Information request showed.
One in five Britons has a tattoo, according to research cited by the British Association of Dermatologists in 2012.
The change to policy is consistent with the Armyâs relaxation of rules in 2014, where they found no evidence to suggest the new approach has had an adverse impact on operational effectiveness.
The main Royal Navy change is that tattoos on the neck are now acceptable providing they are not visible in a front-view passport photo while the subject is wearing an open-neck shirt.
Tattoos on the hands are acceptable, provided they are not below the knuckle or on the palm of the hand.
Navy chiefs stress most tattoos and piercings wonât prevent recruits joining the Royal Marines providing they are not visible on a front-view passport.
The tradition dates back more than 300 years when Captain Cook explored the Pacific and his crew copied the tattoos worn by natives as âsouvenirsâ.
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Why Tattoos Are Not Allowed In Army
Reason behind Strict policy on Body Tattoo: Indian Defence Forces do not allow candidates with permanent body tattoo because they are likely to have hazardous skin diseases. Some of the serious blood-borne diseases, infections caused due to tattoos are a risk of HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, tetanus, allergies, etc.
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How Do I Apply For An Army Waiver
Applying for an Army waiver is as simple as requesting a form. However, it should be noted that the point of the waiver is for the applicant to prove they overcame a disqualifying issue that would otherwise prevent them from joining the Army. Once the waiver has been submitted, a comprehensive review will take place and it will be determined if the individual can join.
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Tattoos And Body Piercings
The Army 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.
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Can I Join The Army With Tattoos Are There Restrictions
Yes, you can join with tattoos, as long as they are not visible above your collar or below your cuff. The Army does not typically accept individuals with tattoos on their hands, wrists, face, or neck. Tattoos anywhere above the neckline or on the head, including in the mouth, ears, or eyelids, disqualifies a candidate. A tattoo waiver is available for candidates who have disqualifying tattoos. However, tattoos that are extremist, racist, sexist, or indecent are prohibited anywhere on a Soldiers body, without exception.
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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.