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.

Hand Tattoos

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.

Tattoo Content

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.

Laser Removal for Tattoos that Violate Coast Guard Policy

Don’t let your tattoo stop you from joining or growing your career in the US Coast Guard. If you find that you need to remove your tattoo in order to enlist, find a Removery location near you. However, it still has some restrictions. Removery offers a 10% discount to those who are in the process of enlisting or already enlisted in the US Coast Guard contact a Removery tattoo removal expert to learn more about your options.

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