U.S. Marines Update Tattoo Policy


By Debbie Gregory

The United States Marines Corps has released a new tattoo policy that seeks to balance their rank and files’ desires to express themselves through body art with the high standards of professional military appearance and heritage.

This is the first update to Marine Corps’ tattoo regulations since 2010.

“There is a reason why Marine Corps Recruiting has remained so successful throughout the years, when you ask Marines why they chose the Corps, most will tell you because they wanted to be different,” said Sgt. Major Ronald L. Green, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. “They wanted to be part of something better than self.  They wanted to be a part of a team.”

According to the new tattoo regulations, Marines will no longer be able to have tattoos on the head and/or neck; 2 inches above and 1 inch below the center of the elbow; 2 inches above the wrist; on hands; and 2 inches above and below the kneecap. The lone exception for the hands is a single band tattoo on a finger, which cannot be larger than 3/8 of an inch.

While Marines can have an unlimited number of tattoos that are covered by the properly fitting standard physical training uniform (green t-shirt and green shorts) any tattoo, regardless of where it is, cannot express sexism, nudity, racism, vulgarity, or anything that is offensive as to discredit the Marine Corps or damage the nation’s expectations of them.

So-called sleeve tattoos that cover most, if not all, of an arm are no longer allowed.

Any Marine who has already been grandfathered will not be affected by the bulletin. Marines will be given 120 days from the date of the June 2nd bulletin to document existing tattoos that fall outside the parameters of the new regulations. After that period expires, those found to be in violation of the new regulations could be disciplined.

For a full list of the new policy, visit http://www.marines.mil/News/NewsDisplay/tabid/3258/Article/788805/new-marine-corps-tattoo-regulations.aspx