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What Military Branch Allows Tattoos

Does The Military Still Hold A Tattoo

Army tattoo policy becomes more lenient

Yes, many militaries around the globe still hold annual tattoos. The US Army, US Marine Corps, Canadian Military, and many of the militaries throughout Europe hold military tattoos at barracks and military installations.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the most famous military tattoos and includes performances from a variety of military bands. The British Armed Forces, international bands, and various teams perform on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.

The performances occur every weekday evening and twice on Saturdays throughout August. The performances have never been canceled due to the weather. However, the organizers had to cancel the tattoos in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each performance includes a procession of bands and teams, along with a fireworks display. Attendance for tattoos sold out every year for 22 years.

Tattoos are also performed in the United States. The US Army Twilight Tattoo is held each Wednesday during the summer months. The tattoo occurs at the Fort Myer Base in Arlington, Virginia. The show is free and open to the public.

The US Marine Corps also holds a free tattoo. A parade is held at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, DC. The tradition began in 1956, making it one of the oldest ongoing military tattoos.

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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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
  • 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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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.

Air Force Tattoo Ideas And Meanings

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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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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.

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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Understand The Regulations Before You Sign Up

All five military branches restrict tattoo content. Youre going to have to remove any tattoos based on drugs, sex, violence, or gang affiliation. Similarly, your ink cannot discriminate against sex, religion, or race. If your tattoo ticks people off, chances are its going to keep you out of the service, unless you get rid of it. Theres no point in whining over this. If you want to serve your country, youll be facing much bigger decisions, so get it done. Having offensive tattoos covered or removed is a small price to pay.

Coast Guard Tattoo Policy 2022

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The U.S. Coast Guard says its tattoo policy “strikes a balance between personal expression and maintaining our sharp military appearance” as it aims to continue recruiting and keeping its next generation of Coast Guardsman.

Tattoos that represent “racism, discrimination, indecency, extremist/supremacist ideals, lawlessness, violence, or are sexually explicit” are banned.

Theres also no limit on the number of tattoos one can have, but there are restrictions on where they can be on the body. Chest tattoos that are visible above the Coast Guard crew neck T-shirt are not allowed.

Service members can have one, 1-inch tattoo on each hand, but it cant go past “the first knuckle closest to the wrist.”

One finger tattoo per hand is also allowed “within the length of the finger from the first to the second knuckle,” according to the Coast Guard tattoo policy.

Additionally, one ring tattoo per hand is allowed on the wearer’s finger but not the thumb.

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What Tattoos Are Allowed In The Marines

There are restrictions regarding content of tattoos, but well get to that in a bit.

  • Sleeve tattoos are now allowed but cannot fall below the wrist.
  • Band tattoos are permitted.
  • Tattoos are not allowed above the collar bone and cannot be seen above the uniformed fitted T-shirt.

Hand tattoos are prohibited in the Marines, with the exception of a single band tattoo on the finger.

They can have a single band tattoo of no more than 3/8 of an inch in width on one finger.

Can You Have Tattoos In The Military

If youve ever considered joining a branch of the armed services you know that there are strict guidelines you must meet. From education to age requirements to fitness tests, there are various requirements for enlisting. However, one of the most common questions people have is if you can have tattoos in the military.

Every branch has its own rules, some more strict than others, which means if you already have some ink youll need to do some extra digging to see whats allowed. The armed forces of the United States are made up of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and the Coast Guard. Additionally, the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are reserve components of their services and operate in part under state authority.

For this article, well be focusing exclusively on the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

  • Before and after 6 laser treatments with MEDermis
  • Before and after 7 laser treatments with MEDermis

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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 Happens If A Soldier Disobeys The Army Tattoo Policy

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As stated earlier in the article, any member of the army that defies the Army Tattoo Policy will be punished according to the law of the Army.

Heres a bit of what the disciplinary procedure entails for any soldier that defaults:

First, its important to note that soldiers are advised to talk with the head of their units before getting a new tattoo, this is to ensure that they dont get any tattoo that contradicts the tattoo policy of the army.

Secondly, soldiers who had a tattoo before being enlisted into the army will not be punished because chances are that the existing tattoos dont defy the armys policy in any way.

If however the soldier adds or edits the tattoo and changes it to anything that violates the policy, then he will be punished. Depending on the gravity of the offense, the punishment may just be a reprimand or a query.

But if the tattoo out rightly violates the army tattoo policy, the commander will first counsel the defaulting soldier of the existing tattoo rule.

If the military has zero tolerance for the tattoo that the soldier has, he will be ordered to have it removed.

The cost of removing or erasing the tattoo wont be paid by the military unlike other health bills, it will be paid for by the soldier from his pocket, and this on its own is a disciplinary action.

Most often, removal of the tattoo is mandatory if the tattoo is contrary to the army tattoo policy and if the soldier wishes to remain in active service in the army.

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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.

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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What Is The Marine Corps Tattoo Policy

  • The Marine Corps is stricter than other branches of the military when it comes to tattoo rules. They only allow tattoos on one arm and require a temporary cover-up before you can even apply. The Marine Corps requires that tattoos must be covered before you join.
  • If you want to be an officer in the Marines, they will also ask you if your tattoo has any religious or gang connotations. If it does, they wont accept it on any part of your uniform.
  • Many people have had their dreams crushed because of this new policy. Its not fair for those who have a lot of tattoos but still want to serve our country and make a difference.
  • Space Force Tattoo Regulations

    Tattoos in the Navy? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

    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.

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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.

    Can You Have Neck/face/hand Tattoos In The Army

    No, the Army does not allow tattoos on the face, neck, or hands.

    The only exception is a small ring tattoo that can exist on each hand .

    Face and neck tattoos are highly discouraged in the U.S. Army.

    There are a few waivers that are granted each year by Army recruiters if the officer determines the tattoo is not too distracting.

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    So Does The Military Allow Tattoos

    The simple answer: there is no simple answer. It all depends, and although military tattoo regulations and policies are liable to be modified each year, take a look below for a quick guide on current military tattoo policies per branch.

    Because much of these policies are up for interpretation its always best to seek feedback from a recruiter directly. However, if you already have ink and are worried it may not pass the military standard you have options! For starters, active service members who enlisted before a new regulation dont have to worry. However, if you add or alter a tattoo and it then violates new military tattoo regulations, you could run into some trouble.

    Whats The Big Deal About Tattoos

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    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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