As tattoos have become more and more popular as a means of expression, the Navy recognizes that banning tattoos means potentially missing out on qualified candidates.
Often referred to as having one of the most lenient tattoo policies out of all the military branches, the Navy’s tattoo guidelines follow four distinct standards of criteria:
- Content: Though it may seem obvious, it is against Navy regulation to sport tattoos that contain any discrimination of religion or national origin, as well as tattoos that suggest the use of illegal drugs or gang affiliation. When it comes to the Navy’s policy, it isn’t exactly set in stone and can vary from case to case, but basically, if your tattoo is meant to be “offensive” then there is a high chance it will not be considered acceptable.
- Location: Once your tattoo is given the go-ahead on its content, the next criteria is the location of your tattoo. Since the US military is pretty big on appearances, it’s been tricky to decide what’s allowed and what’s not. In 2020, the Navy changed its rules to allow one neck tattoo as long as it’s not more than one inch in any direction, as well as allowing arm and leg tattoos without any size or amount restrictions. Face tattoos are still not allowed.
- Size: As previously mentioned, after recent changes made to the Naval policies, neck tattoos are allowed as long as the recruit does not have more than one and it cannot exceed the height/width dimension of one inch. These tattoos can also not touch the hairline or reach behind the ears.
- Cosmetic: This section of criteria applies more so to the female members of the armed services, but hey, it’s the 21st century and it’s important to note that cosmetic tattoos ARE allowed in the Navy, as long as it compliments the individual and their natural skin tone. Eyebrow tattoos in the place of natural eyebrows, lipstick tattoos, skin pigmentation correcting tattoos, all are acceptable as long as they don’t draw unnecessary attention.