Many US Marines have at least one tattoo – but the Corps tattoo policy is stricter than regulations for other US Armed Services branches.

Some Marines come to the Corps with existing ink. Others get new tattoos to symbolize their time in the Marine Corps, with Americana-themed insignias and memorials of their comrades. While many Marines do have tattoos, the branch is deeply committed to preserving its professionalism and values, and there are several restrictions on what is permitted. Whether you have one tattoo or several, if you’re thinking about joining the Marines you’ll want to read up US Marine Corps tattoo regulations.

You probably expect head and neck tattoos to be prohibited. But, full, half, and quarter sleeve tattoos are also banned (except for enlisted Marines who had their ink prior to the 2007 revision). Before you enlist, make sure that your tattoos comply with all US Marine Corps uniform regulations.

Current Tattoo Regulations For The US Marine Corps

The content of your tattoos will be evaluated before you’re allowed to enlist. Not surprisingly, any tattoo that negatively impacts good order, discipline and morale, or is of a nature to discredit the Marine Corps is prohibited. This can include, but is not limited to, designs that are sexist, racist, vulgar, anti-American, anti-social, gang related, or extremist group or organization related. While the rules might seem obvious, some tattoos include content that could be easily confused with illegal or immoral associations. Prospective Marines should use their common sense, because decency is subjective.

Head, neck, hand, finger, and wrist tattoos are all prohibited, along with tattoos on the inside of the mouth. Commissioned and warrant officers are limited to four visible tattoos when wearing the standard physical training uniform. The size of any visible tattoo cannot be larger than the wearer’s hand, with fingers extended and joined and the thumb touching the base of the index finger.

How Marine Corps Tattoo Regulations Have Changed

The United State Marine Corps tattoo policy has been heatedly debated. The Corps’ tattoo policy is stricter than the policies of other branches and the increased regulations have been met with conflict. The most recent change to the United State Marine Corps’s tattoo policy was on January 15, 2010. The amplified change clarified certain rules. For example, even tattoos that are only visible under an ultraviolet light must comply with the rules.

However, the most aggressive changes initially occurred in April 2007. Marines are proud of their tattoos and the tightened regulations caused more conflict than expected. There has been talk of reviewing the rules in 2015, and with a new commandant many Marines are hopeful that, as the 37th Marine Corps commandant,  Lt. General Robert Neller will relax the tattoo policy.

It’s unclear whether the policies will be dialed down but the dialogue is occurring. Sergeant Major, Ronald Green, plans on reviewing the policies with other senior enlisted leaders. According to a news release from a town hall event Green stated, “We heard you. We are going to look at what is best for the Marine Corps and what will keep us combat ready and combat effective. We will make that decision and give that advice to the commandant.”
The US Marine Corps has always set regulations to keep up the professional and honorable appearance of the American Marine, and their goal is to ensure that Marines can fulfil their assigned jobs throughout the world. If you’d like to join the Marines and are thinking about new tattoo possibilities, or if you have existing body art, it would be smart to confirm whether or not it meets Marine Corps standards.

What To Do If Your Tattoos Don’t Pass US Marine Corps Standards

If you intend to become a Marine, but have tattoos on your neck, head, face, the inside of your mouth, fingers, wrists or hands, they must be removed before enlisting. Further, if you have quarter, half, or full sleeve tattoos you will need to have them removed. If you have more than four tattoos that are visible when wearing the standard physical training uniform you will need to have any excess tattoos removed. Finally, if any visible tattoo is larger than your hand, with fingers extended and joined and the thumb touching the base of the index finger, the tattoo will need to be removed fully or partially. If you have tattoos that violate content restrictions, you can sometimes cover those designs up with another tattoo.

Don’t count on using makeup to hide your tattoos during recruitment – to ensure a successful career, you’ll need a more permanent solution. Vanishing creams and other harsh removal methods aren’t recommended, because skin damage from these treatments can resemble branding. If that happens, you could be denied, even if your tattoo fades. To ensure that your tattoo is removed safely and thoroughly before joining the Marines, your best bet is a high-quality laser treatment from a facility with years of experience.

Zapatat Offers Steep Military Discounts For US Marines

Zapatat provides affordable, professional laser tattoo removal treatments for everyone. Combined with a military discount of 15% for active duty military members, veterans, and their spouses, you just can’t go wrong. If you aren’t an active duty Marine yet, but still have tattoos you want removed before you enlist, have your recruiter give us a call or write you a note. You’ll receive the discount.

For speedy tattoo removal, you’ll be very impressed with Zapatat’s ART™ (R20) Fast Tattoo Removal – the world’s fastest tattoo removal treatment. Just one session lightens tattoos by 50-85% with no scarring or side effects. Since each session is like 6-7 standard laser removal sessions, you’ll get your tattoo removed in fewer visits at a very affordable cost.
Learn more about Zapatat’s ART℠ tattoo removal treatment and our generous military discount – or, just call us at 703-248-0909 to schedule your free consultation at our Arlington and Newport News locations.