Air Force Tattoo Policy
The United States Air Force tattoo policy is almost as lenient as the Navy policy, except it prohibits tattoos on the hands. Those serving in the Air Force can have full sleeves as well as large pieces on their backs and legs and are allowed one single-band ring tattoo on their hand. The Air Force tattoo policy, which was updated in 2017, is the same for enlisted members and officers.
Space Force Tattoo Regulations
As of the writing of this article, we were unable to locate a tattoo policy for the U.S. Space Force, the sixth and newest branch of the military.
Even though we found guidance on Space Force uniforms and insignia, we advise you to speak with a recruiter and become familiar with the Air Force tattoo policy as the Space Force is situated within the Air Force.
What Are The Differences In The Piercing Policy For Women And Men
The only difference is the wear of earrings. Males may not wear earrings on duty, whether in or out of uniform. They also cannot wear them off duty on base.
Females performing official duty in civilian attire are limited to the same wear criteria when in uniform: i.e., a single small spherical, conservative, diamond, gold, white pearl, or silver pierced or clip earring per earlobe. The earrings must match and should fit tightly without extending below the earlobe.
Above Information Derived from AFI 36-2903 and the Air Force News Service
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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.
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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What Is A Military Tattoo
The word military tattoo may lead people to imagine a soldier with tattoos on their body, such as a tattoo honoring their branch of the military. Yet, a military tattoo has nothing to do with body ink. So, what is a military tattoo?
A military tattoo is a musical display performed by the military. Military tattoos evolved from a process called doe de tap toe, which was Dutch for turn off the tap. The Dutch States Army sent drummers through garrison towns to mark curfew. By the late 19th century, military tattoos were commonplace.
What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Army
Well, the Cliff Notes version of the Armys tattoo policy goes something like this:
The wrist down and the neck up are off limits, with the exception of a single ring tattoo, otherwise its fair game.
While this might help to understand the policy in general terms, its actually a bit more nuanced than this.
Its true that there are no limits as to how many tattoos, and the size of those tattoos, a soldier can have on their arms, legs, chest, and torso.
You can be tatted up pretty good in the Army.
And while you cannot have any hand tattoos , you can have one ring tattoo per hand, located where you would naturally wear a ring.
Finally, permanent makeup such as eyebrows and eyeliner is allowed only on women, and must be applied conservatively and with modesty.
What Tattoos Are Not Allowed In The Navy
Now, you might want an exhaustive list of exactly what types of tattoos the Navy does not accept, but its not that easy.
While there are guidelines there arent any set-in-stone rules that cover every possible scenario.
Because lets face it, the diversity of tattoos are only limited to the imagination, so new cases pop up all the time that the Navy must deal with on the fly.
With this in mind, its the commanding officer who gets the last say.
USAToday goes on to quote Stevens saying:
There are just so many variables when you look at tattoo language and tattoo art that its just not reasonable to try and identify a set list of what is and what isnt acceptable. This is one of those areas where we trust this senior leadership, our triads, to be able to look at something in its context, using the chain of command and having discussions amongst themselves as to whether something is appropriate or not.
Coast Guard Tattoo Policy
The Coast Guard tattoo policy states that Coast Guard tattoos on the chest cannot be located more than one inch above the v-neck undershirt in the Tropical Blue uniform. Hand tattoos are limited to one ring tattoo per hand that cannot extend past the first knuckle. This means neck and large upper chest tattoos are not allowed under Coast Guard tattoo rules. Sleeves are permitted under Coast Guard tattoo policy.
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I Have Piercings Can I Still Join
Some body piercings will stop you joining, or re-joining:
- Piercings that change the way you look, like a 4mm flesh tunnel or larger ones
For health and safety reasons, you will need to take off all jewellery before any physical activity in the application process. Once you have joined the Army, you will be told the rules for wearing body jewellery when on and off duty.
Are Hand Tattoos Allowed In The Military
Hand tattoos are not allowed in the service branches. There are some minor exceptions to the rule. The Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps are all allowed to have finger ring tattoos. According to the Marine Corps, the finger ring tattoo cant be bigger than a quarter of an inch.
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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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Does The Piercing Policy Apply To All Areas Of The Military Installation
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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The Us Militarys Tattoo Policy: The Reason Why Recruitment Is Down
The U.S. military needs all the help it can get as it faces troubles like Russia, China, and many other hot spots around the world and finding good help is not easy. Could a tough Tattoo policy get in the way?
As the military struggles with dismal recruiting numbers, a congressional watchdog is suggesting that confusion over tattoo policies may be a factor in recruiting and retention for the services.
The 28-page report from the Government Accountability Office, released Wednesday and requested by Congress last year, found that, while most military branches allow tattoo waivers that might make exceptions for potential troops with unauthorized ink, the requirements for those waivers are unclear.
Although each of the armed forces allows waivers for certain tattoo restrictions for recruits, the policies do not always mention or provide clear guidance on the requirements for these waivers, according to the GAO report. Clear guidance on waivers for unauthorized tattoos would provide consistent information about requirements for waiver requests and conditions for approval.
This could clarify whether tattoo prevalence affects future or continued military service, the report continued.
The study was conducted over six months with GAO researchers analyzing and comparing the six services current and previous tattoo policies, interviewing officials, and examining the internal processes used by each branch to determine which tattoos are eligible for a waiver.
What About Tattoos After You Are Enlisted
Some recruits think they can enlist in the military and then get whatever tattoos they wish once they have completed training. This is false. Commanding officers are always reviewing their servicemembers, and people who get tattoos after joining are still subject to disciplinary action up to and including administrative separation.
While cosmetic tattoos are acceptable, they must mimic the natural appearance of the body. The most common illustration is getting an eyebrow tattoo in cases where you are losing your eyebrow hair for some reason. However, the cosmetic tattoo must mirror the natural color, shape, and size of the eyebrow.
Some people who get tattoos after they have enlisted find that the tattoos hurt their ability to proceed up through the ranks. When they are reviewed for promotion, they might find that their promotions are delayed until they visit a tattoo removal clinic.
Generally speaking, visits to a tattoo removal clinic will be on your own dimethe government will not pay for you to have a tattoo removed, nor will health insurance. Fortunately, we do offer special discounts for military recruits, active duty, and veterans its our way of saying, thank you for your service!
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Mission: Service Adapting To The Times The Army Loosens Its Tattoo Policy
BELLEVUE, Neb. Staff Sergeant Bradway Widing is a recruiter with the U.S. Army in Omaha. He’s reacting to last month’s update to the Army’s tattoo policy.
“The Army has adopted a new policy where you can have tattoos on your hands,” said Widing. “As long as it’s one inch in diameter, they can be on your fingers. As long as when they’re closed, you can’t see them. You can still have that ring tattoo, the back of your neck, two inches in diameter all around, and then, the sides of your neck, one inch. But it can’t go past your ear lobes.”
The U.S. Army and other military branches are having trouble meeting recruitment numbers.
More people are also getting tattoos, some of which would’ve been disqualifying in the past.
In an effort to ensure the oldest military branch can obtain more applicants, the Army felt the change was necessary.
“The Army is adapting to the times of today. So you know what you thought you were disqualified for. You could be qualified for now,” said Widing.
Today’s Army is much different than what tattoo artist Dan Botsford saw when he was in.
He opened up Absolute Tattoos and Body Piercing in Bellevue back in the early 90s when he finished his time in the Army.
“I’ve been here since 1994. And I was doing it probably two or three years prior to that, said Botsford
He says back when he was in the service, a lot of people didn’t have tattoos.
“Tattoos weren’t real big. I think I saw my first sleeve probably in like ’94,” said Botsford.
What Air Force Tattoos Are Not Allowed
While the Air Force has one of the more lenient tattoo policies of all the military branches, they still have standards and restrictions that must be followed.
As far as size and location of unauthorized tattoos, Airmen cannot be inked up in the following locations:
Otherwise, its fair game for size and location.
USAF Airmen can have tattoos that are much larger than their hand when covering it.
And if you think about it, that leaves A LOT of canvas to be tattooed.
See below for a visual of what the new Air Force tattoo policy entails, what they prohibit, and what they permit.
Now that youre clear on the size and locations of unauthorized tattoos, lets discuss the content of tattoos that are prohibited.
The following unauthorized body markings are not allowed anywhere on the body, even when covered up by PTs.
So keep this in mind when visiting a recruiter, because they will ask, and you must tell.
Here are the tattoos not allowed in the USAF:
- Any markings that are obscene
- Associated with gang activity
- Ethnic or religious discriminatory tattoos
These tattoos will NOT fly, in more ways than one.
However, if you are unsure of a particular tattoo or tattoos, it doesnt hurt to visit an Air Force recruiter and get their opinion.
Sometimes they give waivers in certain cases.
Youd hate to blow your chances simply because you think your tattoo will automatically disqualify you.
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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.
Laser Tattoo Removal Can Give You A Fresh Start
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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Us Army Tattoo Policy 2022
Specifically, soldiers can now have one tattoo on each hand as long as it doesnt exceed 1 inch in length. They can have one tattoo no larger than 2 inches on the back of their neck. One, 1-inch tattoo is also allowed behind each ear.
Additionally, tattoos between fingers are OK as long as the designs “cannot be seen when the fingers are closed,” officials said. The Army already allows tattoos on soldiers arms and legs as long as they do not become visible above the collar.
Face tattoos are prohibited, and soldiers are not allowed to cover up tattoos with bandages or wrappings to comply with the policy, officials said. Tattoo designs must not contain any “offensive, extremist or hateful words or images.”
FILE IMAGE – U.S. Army Col. Scott D. Wilkinson delivers a message to members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division prior to their departure for Europe on July 6, 2022, in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty
What Tattoos Are Not Allowed In The Army
As far as placement or location goes, we recommend the t-shirt test.
Throw on a t-shirt and stand in front of the mirror. Now, you cannot have any tattoos showing above the t-shirt collar line or anywhere on the neck, ear, face, scalp, etc.
This restriction also includes any inner-mouth or eyelid tattoos .
You cannot have any tattoos on your hands either .
The hand is defined as any location below the wrist bone. With this in mind, its best not to have any ink on your wrists at all.
As far as content of the tattoos, the Army prohibits anything that is:
These types of tattoos cannot be located anywhere on your body. And believe us, theyll check.
Of course, the terms above can be interpreted in different ways, so its ultimately up to your Recruiting Commander to make the call.
Also, if you have tattoos and eventually want to become an Officer or Warrant Officer, dont worry, theres still hope of moving up in rank.
You see, Commanders make recommendations for soldiers based on many considerations so you likely wont be rejected on account of your tattoos alone.
Finally, if you have a tattoo that you think will disqualify you from the Army, its worth a shot to check with the recruiters anyway.
You might get a waiver for, say, a tiny tattoo on your hand or something small behind your ear.
So dont count yourself out!
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