Recently, some branches of the United States government have released new protocols regarding tattoos of enlisted men and women. These new policies are making it difficult for people who have visible tattoos to join the military and ultimately risk their lives for our freedom. Although we here at Atlantic Laser Tattoo Removal do not approve of these new standards, we do feel it is our responsibility to inform you of them. Depending on which branch of the military you are enlisting with, your options may be different. Most branches are uniformly using the "no hands, no head, or neck rule"
Here is a list of the different branches and their new policies. If you have any questions regarding these policies, please ask your recruiter for clarification.
Army Regulation 670–1
Uniforms and Insignia - Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia
Department of the Army
Washington , DC
3 February 2005
SUMMARY of CHANGE
• Clarifies the definition of unauthorized tattoos while wearing the class A uniform (chap 1).
• Identifies officials responsible for making initial entry determinations on tattoos and brands (chap 1).
• Delegates the authority to MACOM commanders to grant exceptions to policy or discharges on initial entry soldiers with tattoos (chap 1). 1–8. Hair and fingernail standards and grooming policies
e. Tattoo policy
(1) Tattoos or brands anywhere on the head, face, and neck above the class A uniform collar are prohibited.
(2) Tattoos or brands that are extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist are prohibited, regardless of location on the body, as they are prejudicial to good order and discipline within units.
(a) Extremist tattoos or brands are those affiliated with, depicting, or symbolizing extremist philosophies, organizations, or activities. Extremist philosophies, organizations, and activities are those which advocate racial, gender or ethnic hatred or intolerance; advocate, create, or engage in illegal discrimination based on race, color, gender, ethnicity, religion, or national origin; or advocate violence or other unlawful means of depriving individual rights under the U.S. Constitution, Federal, or State law (see para 4–12, AR 600–20).
(b) Indecent tattoos or brands are those that are grossly offensive to modesty, decency, or propriety; shock the moral sense because of their vulgar, filthy, or disgusting nature or tendency to incite lustful thought; or tend reasonably to corrupt morals or incite libidinous thoughts.
(c) Sexist tattoos or brands are those that advocate a philosophy that degrades or demeans a person based on gender, but that may not meet the same definition of “indecent.”
(d) Racist tattoos or brands are those that advocate a philosophy that degrades or demeans a person based on race, ethnicity, or national origin.
(3) Counseling requirements.
(a) Commanders will ensure soldiers understand the tattoo policy.
(b) For soldiers who are not in compliance, commanders may not order the removal of a tattoo or brand. However, the commander must counsel soldiers, and afford them the opportunity to seek medical advice about removal or alteration of the tattoo or brand.
(4) If soldiers are not in compliance with the policy, and refuse to remove or alter the tattoos or brands, commanders will:
(a) Ensure the soldier understands the policy.
(b) Ensure the soldier has been afforded the opportunity to seek medical advice about removal or alteration.
(c) Counsel the soldier in writing. The counseling form will state that the soldier's refusal to remove extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist tattoos or brands anywhere on the body, or refusal to remove any type of tattoo or brand visible in the class A uniform (worn with slacks/trousers), will result in discharge.
(5) Existing tattoos or brands on the hands that are not extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist, but are visible in the class A uniform (worn with slacks/trousers), are authorized.
(6) Finality of determination.
(a) Recruiting battalion commanders or recruiting battalion executive officers (0–5 or above) will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for Active Army and Army Reserve soldiers. This authority will not be delegated further.
(b) Unit commanders or unit executive officers will make determinations for soldiers currently on active duty. This authority will not be delegated further.
(c) Recruiting and retention managers (O–5 or above) will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for National Guard soldiers. This authority will not be delegated further.
(d) Professors of military science (O-5 or above) will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for ROTC cadets. This authority will not be delegated further.
(e) The Director of Admissions will make initial entry determinations that tattoos or brands comply with this policy for the U.S. Military Academy cadets. This authority will not be delegated further.
(f) Determinations will be fully documented in writing and will include a description of existing tattoos or brands and their location on the body. A copy of the determination will be provided to the soldier. Unless otherwise directed by the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, these determinations are final. If a tattoo or brand is discovered to violate this policy after an initial determination has been documented, commanders must submit requests for an exception to policy or for discharge through the soldier's chain of command to the MACOM for approval. Appeals to the MACOM decision will be forwarded to the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1 for decision.
(7) Soldiers may not cover tattoos or brands in order to comply with the tattoo policy.
1. This Navadmin supersedes Navadmin 021/03, amplifies waiverable and non-waiverable criteria, establishes final waiver authority, and provides procedures for administrative documentation and processing of tattoos/body art/brands/mutilations and dental ornamentation. These changes are effective immediately and will be reflected in the next change to the uniform regulations.
2. For clarity, revisions and additions to Navy uniform regulations, article 2201, are quoted below in their entirety: article 2201. Personal appearance, because it is impossible to provide examples of every appropriate or unacceptable (“conservative” or “eccentric”) grooming standard, the good judgment of leaders at all levels is key to the enforcement of the Navy s personal appearance policy. Therefore, hair, grooming, and personal appearance while in uniform shall present a neat, professional appearance.
3. Tattoos/body art/brands. Four criteria will be used to determine whether tattoos/body art/brands are permitted for Navy personnel: Content, Location, Size, and Cosmetic.
A. Content. Tattoos/body art/brands located anywhere on the body that are prejudicial to good order, discipline, and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the naval service are prohibited. For example, tattoos/body art/brands that are obscene, sexually explicit, and or advocate discrimination based on sex, race, religion, ethnic, or national origin are prohibited. In addition, tattoos/body art/brands that symbolize affiliation with gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use are prohibited.
B. Location. No tattoos/body art/brands on the head, face, neck, or scalp. The neck area for purposes of this regulation is any portion visible when wearing a crew neck t-shirt or open collar uniform shirt. In addition, otherwise permissible tattoos/body art/brands on the torso area of the body shall not be visible through white uniform clothing.
C. Size. Individual tattoos/body art/brands exposed by wearing a short sleeve uniform shirt shall be no larger in size than the wearer s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger. Tattoos/body art/brands that exceed size criteria are waiverable provided they do not violate the content and/or location criteria.
D. Cosmetic Tattoos. This regulation does not prohibit cosmetic tattooing to correct medical conditions requiring such treatment. For the purpose of this regulation, cosmetic tattooing refers to medical or surgical procedures conducted by licensed, qualified medical personnel.
4. Mutilation. Intentional mutilation of any part of the body is prohibited. Mutilation is defined as the intentional radical alteration of the body, head, face, or skin for the purpose of and or resulting in an abnormal appearance.
A. Examples of mutilation include, but are not limited to:
(1) a split or forked tongue;
(2) foreign objects inserted under the skin to create a design or pattern;
(3) enlarged or stretched out holes in ears (other than a normal piercing);
(4) intentional scarring on neck, face, or scalp; or
(5) intentional burns creating a design or pattern.
B. Dental ornamentation. The use of gold, platinum, or other veneers or caps for purposes of dental ornamentation is prohibited. For purposes of this regulation, ornamentation is defined as decorative veneers or caps. Teeth, whether natural, capped, or veneered, will not be ornamented with designs, jewels, initials, etc.
C. Navy personnel with tattoos/body art/brands/mutilation/dental ornamentation that do not meet these requirements and have not been previously waived in writing shall notify their commanding officer, via the chain of command, within 60 days of the release of this Navadmin for screening.
5. Commanding officers shall determine waiverable conditions and direct members to execute a Navpers 1070/613.
6. Commanding officers shall determine non-waiverable conditions and direct those members, via a Navpers 1070/613, to alter, or remove the tattoo/body art/brand/mutilation/dental ornamentation, if feasible (this should occur within 180 days absent unusual circumstances as determined by the commanding officer).
7. Disposition of Navy personnel with waiverable pre-existing conditions: tattoos/body art/brands/mutilation/dental ornamentation may be waived if they existed prior to 24 January 2003 and are not prejudicial to good order, discipline, and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the naval service
8. Disposition of naval personnel with non-waiverable pre-existing conditions. If removal or alteration of tattoo/body art/brand/mutilation/dental ornamentation is determined by a military medical healthcare provider not to be feasible, the member may be processed for involuntary separation, if deemed appropriate by the commanding officer.
9. Documenting waiverable and non-waiverable conditions. Commanding officers of members who have waiverable and non-waiverable conditions shall document the condition on a Navpers 1070/613. Navpers 1070/613 for enlisted personnel will be submitted to the local personnel support detachment for inclusion in the field service record. The Navpers 1070/613 for officer personnel will be mailed to comNavperscom (pers 312) for inclusion in the electronic service record.
10. Sample Navpers 1070/613 for waiverable condition follows: (Date); “I understand that, effective 24 January 2003, Navy personal appearance policy was changed with regard to tattoos, body art, brands, mutilation, and dental ornamentation. I have the following condition that existed prior to the release of Navadmin 021/03: (full description and location). My pre-existing condition is being waived, and I am prohibited from obtaining additional body ornamentation or altering existing body ornamentation in a manner that violates Navy policy.”
11. Sample Navpers 1070/613 for non-waiverable condition, when removal or alteration is feasible, follows: (Date); “I understand that, effective 24 January 2003, Navy personal appearance policy was changed with regard to tattoos, body art, brands, mutilation and dental ornamentation. I have the following body ornamentation that existed prior to the release of Navadmin 021/03: (full description and location). I understand that i am prohibited from obtaining additional body ornamentation or altering existing body ornamentation in a manner that violates Navy policy. My pre-existing condition must, except for dental ornamentation, be covered at all times both when in uniform and when in civilian attire until i have access to proper facilities for alteration or removal. Absent an extension of time from my commanding officer, alteration or removal shall occur within 180 days.”
12. Violations of policy. Members not complying with these requirements may be subject to administrative or disciplinary action, to include involuntary separation.
13. Reenlistments. Commanding officers and officers-in-charge shall review the service records of all reenlistment eligible sailors to determine if a Navpers 1070/613 was previously issued. If so, the commanding officer or officer-in-charge shall ensure the member has complied with the Navpers 1070/613 before executing the reenlistment.
14. Accession policy. This section refers to individuals newly accessed and gained in the active or reserve component.
A. Commander, Navy recruiting command has final tattoo/body/art/branding/mutilation/dental ornamentation waiver authority for all Navy enlisted accessions. Navy recruiting command shall screen all Navy applicants for tattoos and compliance with this policy.
B. Commander, Navy recruiting command shall screen all prior service veterans processing for enlistment, reenlistment, or affiliation into the active or reserve components for tattoos/body art/brands/mutilation/dental ornamentation.
(1) Members of the Navy s active and reserve components will be provided the same opportunity for waivers.
(2) Waivers received during previous service periods shall be honored. However, tattoos/body art/branding/mutilation/dental ornamentation found to be contrary to good order, discipline, and morale shall be disapproved and the member rejected for affiliation. Individuals unable to provide a documented waiver for previously exisiting tattoo/body art/brand/mutilation/dental ornamentation or who have additional body ornamentation received since termination of their last enlistment may be granted a waiver by commander, Navy recruiting command in accordance with this policy.
15. Commissioning program accessions. The cognizant commander shall ensure compliance with this policy for commissioning programs.
A. Commander, Navy Recruiting command has waiver authority for all OCS/OIS commissioning programs.
B.Commandant , United States naval academy has waiver authority for naval academy midshipmen.
C.Commander, naval service training command has waiver authority for naval reserve officer training corps (NROTC) midshipmen.
16. File this Navadmin with ref b until revisions are incorporated into the Jul 06 quarterly Bupers directive cd-rom change.
17. POC: CNOCM Carroll at (703) 614-5076.
18. Released by Vadm J. C. Harvey, Jr., N1/NT.// BT #3645
Table 2.5. regarding tattoos/brands/body piercing by active duty Air Force members; USAFR members on active duty or inactive for training; ANG members in Federal service, is a violation of Article 92, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Violations of these provisions can be prosecuted under Article 92 of the UCMJ, as well as any other applicable articles of the UCMJ, when appropriate. The Commander, Military Personnel Flight (MPF) assigns an office within the Customer Support Section to be the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) for this instruction.
1 Body Alteration or Modification
Prohibited, if it is intentional and results in a visible, physical effect that detracts from a professional military image. Failure to observe these mandatory provisions and prohibitions by active duty Air Force members, USAFR members on active duty or inactive duty for training and ANG members in Federal service is a violation of Article 92, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). See note 1.
2 Tattoos/Brands (Unauthorized- content)
Tattoos/brands anywhere on the body that are obscene or advocate sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination are prohibited in and out of uniform. Tattoos/brands that are prejudicial to good order and discipline or that are of a nature that tends to bring discredit upon the Air Force are prohibited in and out of uniform. Tattoos that are commonly associated with gang affiliations are prohibited both in and out of uniform. Unauthorized (content): Members who receive tattoos/brands not meeting the standards after the implementation of this policy are required to initiate tattoos/brands removal at their own expense upon notification by their Commander. Initial Accessions must disclose any tattoos and must complete removal of inappropriate tattoos prior to being accepted in the Air Force. Members failing to remove or alter unauthorized tattoos in a timely manner may be subject to disciplinary action or involuntary separation. Failure to observe these mandatory provisions and prohibitions by active duty Air Force members, USAFR members on active duty or inactive duty for training and ANG members in Federal service is a violation of Article 92, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). (See notes 2, 3, 4 and 5).
3 Tattoos/Brands (Inappropriate-military image)
Excessive tattoos/brands will not be exposed or visible (includes visible through the uniform) while in uniform. Excessive is defined as any tattoo/ brands that exceed 1/4 of the exposed body part and those above the collarbone and readily visible when wearing an open collar uniform. Members should not be allowed to display excessive tattoos that would detract from an appropriate professional image while in uniform. Commanders should use these guidelines in determining appropriate military image and acceptability of tattoos displayed by members in uniform. Air Force members with tattoos not meeting an acceptable military image should be required to (a) maintain complete coverage of the tattoos using current uniform items (e.g. long-sleeved shirt/blouse, pants/ slacks, dark hosiery, PT running suit, etc.) or (b) remove tattoo(s). Depending on the circumstances, commanders may seek Air Force medical support for voluntary tattoo removal. PTDY is not authorized in this situation and is at member's expense. Members failing to remove, cover, or alter excessive tattoos or who choose not to comply with acceptable military standards may be subject to disciplinary action or involuntary separation. Failure to observe these mandatory provisions and prohibitions by active duty Air Force members, USAFR members on active duty or inactive duty for training and ANG members in Federal service is a violation of Article 92, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). (See notes 2, 4, 5 and 6).
In Uniform: Members are prohibited from attaching, affixing or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to or through the ear, nose, tongue, eye brows, lips or any exposed body part (includes visible through the uniform). EXCEPTION : Women are authorized to wear earrings. (See Table 2.6.) Civilian Attire: (1) Official Duty: Members are prohibited from attaching, affixing or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to or through the nose, tongue eye brows, lips or any exposed body part (or any exposed body part (includes visible through clothing).
Off Duty on a military installation: Members are prohibited from attaching, affixing or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to or through the nose, tongue eye brows, lips or any exposed body part (includes visible through clothing). Piercing of earlobes by women is allowed, but should not be extreme or excessive.
Table 2.6. Clothing/Accessory Standards.
6. Earrings (W) Small spherical, conservative round diamond, gold, pearl, or silver earrings with any uniform combination and worn as a set. If member has multiple holes only one set of earrings will be worn in the lower earlobe. When members wear civilian clothes for duty they will conform to AFI requirements. Matching earrings must be worn and should fit tightly without extending below the earlobe. EXCEPTION: Connecting band on clip earrings.
1. Members who intentionally alter or modify any part of their bodies in order to achieve a visible, physical effect that disfigures, deforms or otherwise detracts from a professional military image may be subject to disciplinary action or involuntary separation, as determined appropriate by the member's commander. Examples of prohibited conduct include (but are not limited to) tongue splitting or forking, tooth filing and acquiring visible, disfiguring skin implants.
2. Installation or higher commanders may impose more restrictive standards for tattoos and body ornaments, on or off duty, in those locations where Air Force-wide standards may not be adequate to address cultural sensitivities (e.g., overseas) or mission requirements (e.g.; basic training envi- ronments).
3. Members who receive tattoos/brands not meeting the standards are required to initiate tattoos/ brands removal at their own expense (may not use Air Force Medical Centers for removal) upon notification by their Commander. Members not complying with these requirements will be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply with Air Force Standards and may be involuntarily separated.
4. There may be situations where the commander can restrict the wear of non-visible body ornaments. Those situations would include any body ornamentation that interferes with the performance of the member's military duties. The factors to be evaluated in making this determination include, but are not limited to: impairs the safe and effective operation of weapons, military equipment or machinery; poses a health or safety hazard to the wearer or others; or interferes with the proper wear of special or protective clothing or equipment (EXAMPLE: helmets, flack jackets, flight suits, camouflaged uniforms, gas masks, wet suits and crash rescue equipment.)
5. Tattoo/branding policy went into effect 15 March 1998.
6. Members who receive tattoos/brands not meeting the standards after the implementation of this policy are required to initiate tattoos/brands removal at their own expense upon notification by their Commander. Members not complying with these requirements will be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply with Air Force Standards and may be involuntarily separated.
UNCLAS 191708Z MAR 07
CMC WASHINGTON DC(UC)
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC//
Subj/Announcement Of Changes To The Marine Corps Tattoo Policy//
REF/A/MSGID:DOC/CMC WASHINGTON DC MCUB/YMD:20030331//
POC/S. T. FOSTER/CAPT/-/-/TEL:COMM 703 784 9387/TEL:DSN 278 9387//
NARR/REF A MCO P1020.34G,
Marine Corps Uniform Regulations// GENTEXT/
1. Purpose. To detail revisions and additions to the Tattoo Policy found in MCO P1020.34G, Marine Corps Uniform Regulations.
2. Effective 1 April 2007, paragraph 1004.1c of MCO P1020.34G, Marine Corps uniform regulations, is cancelled and replaced with the following paragraph. "... Marines are prohibited from:
C. Tattoos or brands on the head and neck. Sleeve tattoos are likewise prohibited. A sleeve tattoo is a very large tattoo, or a collection of smaller tattoos, that covers or almost covers a person's entire arm or leg. Half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoos that are visible to the eye when wearing standard PT gear (t-shirt and shorts) are likewise prohibited. A half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoo is defined as a very large tattoo, or a collection of smaller tattoos that covers, or almost covers, the entire portion of an arm or leg above or below the elbow or knee. Tattoos or brands that are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale, or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Marine Corps are also prohibited. Prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale, or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Marine corps may include, but are not limited to, any tattoo that is sexist, racist, vulgar, anti-American, anti-social, gang related, or extremist group or organization related."
3. The following new suparagraphs 1004.1c(1) and 1004.1c(2) are added.
”(1) Marines who currently have a sleeve tattoo(s) will be Grandfathered. The Marine's command will insert a photograph(s) of the respective tattoo(s) along with a measurement(s) of the size in inches and of the location(s) on the body and the date the tattoo(s) was documented, on the page 11 of the Marine's SRB. The Marine will sign the page 11 entry verifying the information is correct.”
“(2) The Deputy Commandant For Manpower And Reserve Affairs is designated as the adjudicating authority for any tattoo issue involving retention or special duty assignments. Review of a questionable tattoo(s) will be submitted to DC M&RA (MM) via the Reenlistment, Extension, Lateral Move System (RELMS). The package will include a photograph(s) of the tattoo(s), measurement(s) of the size in inches, description of the location(s) and explanation as to why the tattoo(s) has been deemed questionable by the Commander.”
4. Commander's are required to educate all their Marines on the new policy and document any Marine that requires grandfathering by 1 July 2007.//
United States Coast Guard
2100 Second Street , S.W. Washington , DC 20593-0001
Jun 17 2005
COMMANDANT INSTRUCTION 1000.1A
Subj: TATTOO, BODY MARKING, BODY PIERCING, AND MUTILATION POLICY
Ref: (a) Uniform Regulations, COMDTINST M1020.6 (series)(b) Medical Manual, COMDTINST M6000.1 (series)
1. PURPOSE. This Instruction amends the Coast Guard's Tattoo and Body Markings Policy to include both new accessions and current active duty/reserve members, and establishes new guidelines governing content, location, and amount of body coverage. Additionally, this policy reinforces the prohibition against other forms of intentional body mutilation.
2. ACTION. Area and district commanders, commanders of maintenance and logistics commands, commanding officers of headquarters units, assistant commandants for directorates, Judge Advocate General, and special staff offices at Headquarters shall ensure compliance with the provisions of this Instruction. Commander, Coast Guard Recruiting Command (CGRC) shall ensure compliance with this policy for all enlisted and officer accessions other than the Coast Guard Academy; CGRC is the final approving authority for all accession tattoo issues other than those on cadets and shall note any such approval on a CG Form 3307 prior to applicant's arrival at the accession point. The Superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy shall ensure compliance with this policy for all cadets. Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Training Center Cape May shall annotate recruit records as appropriate. Commandant (CG-122) shall be the final authority for determinations involving the acceptability of tattoos/brands on personnel being considered for discharge and for any other cases in which there are questions concerning applicability of this Instruction. Internet release authorized.
3. DIRECTIVES AFFECTED. Tattoo and Body Markings Policy for Coast Guard Accessions, COMDTINST 1000.1, is cancelled. The following instructions will be amended to reflect this policy: Uniform Regulations, COMDTINST M1020.6 (series); Coast Guard Recruiting Manual, COMDTINST M1100.2 (series); and the Personnel Manual, COMDTINST M1000.6 (series).
4. BACKGROUND. Our current policy on tattoos, branding, piercing, and other forms of body art has not changed appreciably over the past thirty years. Our standards date back to a time when tattooing was restricted to a very small portion of society, branding was almost unheard of, and piercing was limited to earlobes. Consequently, there was little practical need to spell out, in great detail, the do's and don'ts of body art. Clearly, times have changed. Tattooing has exploded in popularity and now touches all segments of our society. While branding remains far less popular, it is common in some social circles. As for piercing, one only needs to walk through the shopping mall or along the beach to see how much things have changed over the course of the last decade or so. These trends have gradually eased their way into our military workforce. However, given our role as a military service and as a federal law enforcement agency along with our level of daily contact with the general public, we cannot allow ourselves to be guided solely by social trends and fashion. Therefore, the time has come to recalibrate and affirm our standards for tattoos, branding, piercing, and other forms of body art that are consistent with the requirement to maintain a sharp, professional military image to the public we serve. Our intent is not to draw undue attention to members of our team who already have tattoos or brands. Where appropriate, we have incorporated a grandfathering feature into certain aspects of the new policy that will apply to all current members for the remainder of their careers. Heavy tattooing found its way into our organization over time. It will take time to ease our way back to a more desirable state.
a. Location. No tattoo or brand, of any type, is authorized on the head, face, neck, or hands. The dark blue Coast Guard T-shirt collar shall be the reference point for the back and sides of the neck; i.e., no tattoo or brand may be visible above the collar of the T-shirt on the neck. In the case of a tattoo or brand very near the collarbone, a final evaluation shall be made to ensure that no tattoo or brand is visible when wearing a v-neck undershirt and an open collar shirt. The wrist bone shall be the reference point for tattoos or brands on the hands. No tattoos or brands shall be visible below the wrist bone.
b. Content. Tattoos or brands anywhere on the body that promote racism/discrimination, indecency, extremist or supremacist philosophies, lawlessness, violence, or sexually explicit material are prohibited.
Racist or discriminatory tattoos or brands are those that advocate the degradation of a person based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or gender
Indecent or sexually explicit tattoos or brands are those that contain a visual image, the dominant theme of which depicts or promotes graphic nudity, including sexual activities or organs, in a lustful way. Tattoos featuring fully exposed nudity are prohibited.
Extremist tattoos or brands are those that depict or promote extremist activities or organizations that advocate hatred, intolerance, or lawlessness (e.g., terrorist groups, neo- Nazis, skinheads, outlaw gangs, Confederate Flag, extreme political organizations with violent histories). Because some extremist/criminal groups and organizations exploit popular symbols (e.g., cartoon characters), care must be taken in evaluating such tattoos or brands so as not to implicate members who may have selected the tattoo or brand based on its artistic value rather than a hidden meaning. In these cases, a determination will be made based on the totality of thematic elements expressed by tattoos or brands elsewhere on the body.
Tattoos or brands labeled violent or promoting lawlessness are those that depict extreme graphic violence, profanity, glorifications of drug culture, or markings that can reasonably be interpreted as anti-government in nature.
c. Size or Coverage of Area. Excessive tattooing or branding is defined as that which results in more than 25% of an exposed limb (arm/leg) being adorned, and is not authorized. The exposed area shall be regarded as the zone between the member's elbow and wrist or the knee and the ankle. A complex tattoo (mural, serpentine, etc.) that dominates a given area shall be regarded as full coverage for the purpose of determining excessiveness, regardless of any un-tattooed area within the larger picture. Coverage shall be determined by visual approximation. The measuring of individual limbs is not intended or desired. In the case of branding, no more than one brand, not to exceed 4” x 4”, may appear anywhere on the body.
d. Body Piercing. No piercing, other than those for earrings as described below, 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. Other piercing concealed by the uniform (such as navel and nipples) are strongly discouraged due to the potential for infection and medical complications. Under no circumstance shall such concealed piercing and accompanying jewelry be visible through, or interfere with, the professional appearance of the member in uniform, nor shall such jewelry be visible while onboard a Coast Guard unit. Piercing in the ear shall not exceed two per ear lobe and shall be small and inconspicuous. Additional piercing in the ear lobes and cartilage are prohibited. Guidance regarding the wearing of earrings by women while in uniform, can be found in Uniform Regulations, COMDTINST M1020.6 (series). All members are prohibited from wearing forms of facial jewelry (other than earrings for women) while in uniform, on board a military installation, or while attending a command sponsored event. Those personnel with preexisting unauthorized piercing shall discontinue the use of those piercing to allow for eventual healing. Questionable cases should be referred to Commandant (CG-122) for final determination.
d. Body Mutilation or Modification. Other forms of intentional body mutilation or modification (e.g. scarring, excessive ear piercing/stretching, tongue splitting, beneath the skin decorative implants, decorative tooth plating/engraving, etc.) are not authorized. This does not include traditional elective medical procedures (e.g., teeth straightening, breast augmentation, cosmetic plastic surgery, etc.).
e. Disqualifying Tattoos, Brands, Piercings, or Mutilations. Applicants for enlistment or appointment with prohibited tattoos, brands, or mutilations described in paragraph 5.a. to 5.e. shall not be permitted to join the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Reserve. Initially unqualified applicants who choose to either alter or remove a disqualifying tattoo, brand, or mutilation may be reconsidered at a later date, provided they remain qualified in all other respects. However, no commitment shall be made suggesting that the removal or alteration of a tattoo or brand will ensure Coast Guard acceptance. Applicants with excess piercings that do not rise to the level of mutilation, shall be given the option of discontinuing the use of the unauthorized piercings throughout their Coast Guard service.
f. Current Member Violations. Current active and reserve members whose tattoos or brands are determined to violate this Instruction shall be given the opportunity to seek competent medical advice regarding the removal or alteration of the disqualifying tattoo or brand. Members who refuse to take the necessary steps to satisfy the requirements of this policy shall be separated from the service. Current active, reserve, and delayed enlistment personnel with excessive tattooing or branding on exposed limbs, including on the hands, prior to the date of this Instruction shall be “grandfathered" indefinitely, and are prohibited from getting additional tattoos or branding in the exposed area(s) already determined to be excessive. These cases shall be documented using an Administrative Remarks, Form CG-3307, in accordance with the sample provided in enclosure
(1). Tattoos or branding that are prohibited by paragraph 5.a. or 5.b. are not grandfathered. Similar documentation may be appropriate for preexisting tattoos/brands whose content requires a judgment call. This paragraph is specifically not intended to promote a service-wide inspection or evaluation of tattoos. Rather, it is intended to promote, when appropriate, an initial determination by a competent command authority, to preclude repeated reevaluation by future commands. Members who have tattoos or brands are encouraged to request their unit commander document grandfathered tattoos or brands by a Form CG-3307.
6. ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECT AND IMPACT CONSIDERATIONS. Environmental considerations were examined in the development of the directive and have been determined to be not applicable.
7. FORMS AVAILABILITY. Administrative Remarks, CG 3307, and Tattoo Screening Form, CG-6052 (1-05) are available in USCG Electronic Forms or on the Internet at