Can You Have Tattoos in the Coast Guard?
Most branches of the military have similar policies for the number, type, and location of tattoos that are allowed on those who are currently serving or who wish to join. However, there are some minor differences.
Coast Guard Tattoo Regulations and Rules
Previous US Coast Guard Tattoo Policy
Prior to the regulation changes in 2017, those in the Coast Guard could not have tattoos that were visible when they were in uniform. Similar to the US Airforce tattoo Policy the US Coast Guard members also could not have a tattoo that covered more than 25% of the body part it was on.
New US Coast Guard Tattoo Policy
The policy for the content of Coast Guard tattoos has remained the same, with most of the restrictions centered on racist, vulgar, or gang tattoos.
Neck and Chest Tattoos
While the prohibition on visible tattoos no longer applies, there are still some restrictions for tattoos on the neck and chest. Tattoos on the chest cannot be visible more than one inch above the v-neck undershirt that is worn under the Tropical Blue uniform shirt. This means that Coast Guard tattoo regulations completely prohibit neck tattoos, and very large tattoos on the upper chest may also be prohibited.
Coast guard tattoos can involve hand tattooing but must be limited to one ring tattoo per hand, and this tattoo cannot extend past the first knuckle on the finger. No other tattoos or brands below the wrist are allowed. Under the current Coast Guard tattoo policy for officers, sleeves are allowed.
Blacklight and UV Tattoos and Brands
Coast Guard tattoo policy allows blacklight and UV tattoos, but they must follow the same regulations as all other tattoos. Brands are allowed as well, but they must not be larger than 4 inches by 4 inches and cannot be on the hand, face, neck, or head.
What the tattoo means
Coast Guard tattoos cannot portray any content that is considered racist, discriminatory, indecent, extremist, or supremacist and must not involve violence, sexually explicit material, or promote lawlessness no matter where they are on the body. This includes tattoos that feature fully exposed nudity, tattoos of hate groups such as Neo-Nazis, skinheads, terrorist groups, or outlaw gangs, Confederate flags, graphic violence, the glorification of drug culture, or anti-government. Determining whether a tattoo falls into these categories can be subjective, and it’s ultimately up to the Coast Guard administration to decide whether a tattoo adheres to USCG tattoo regulations.
Location on the Body
Coast guard tattoo policy for officers does not allow for any type of tattoo or brand on the hands, neck, face, or head except for the single ring tattoos discussed earlier. For the back and sides of the neck, the dark blue Coast Guard t-shirt collar is the reference point in determining whether a tattoo or brand is visible past one inch above the collar. No brands or tattoos are allowed below the wrist bone.