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This is what you need to know about tattoos in the Army.

The Army tattoo regulations, which can be found in detail here, were updated and relaxed in 2015, though they are still some of the most stringent in all branches of the military. Prior regulations limited the number of visible tattoos to four, and none of those could be any larger than the soldier’s hand.

Tattoo Content

What’s not allowed

The content of allowed tattoos has not changed. Any indecent, violent, racist, sexist, or vulgar Army tattoos are prohibited no matter where they are on the body. This includes tattoos with exposed nudity, gang affiliations, anti-government statements, or glorified violence. Determining whether a tattoo violates Army tattoo regulations is up to the soldier’s commanding officer.

Tattoo Location

Where’s it not allowed

Army tattoo policy prohibits any tattoos on the head, face, neck above the t-shirt collar, wrists, or hands other than one ring tattoo per hand that must rest where a normal ring would. Army tattoo policy also states that leg tattoos must be two inches below or above the knee. Even small Army tattoos must abide by this Army tattoo policy. The previous policy, which stated that no more than four tattoos could be visible below the knee or the elbow, has been retracted.

Permanent Makeup

Army tattoo regulations state that permanent makeup is only allowed on women and must be conservative.

Laser Removal for Tattoos that Violate Army Policy

The Army advises that if you plan to join, you should speak to a branch representative to ensure your tattoos abide by Army tattoo policy and that any tattoos in the military you plan to get will also conform to Army tattoo regulations. If your Army tattoos are in violation, you have options. Laser tattoo removal in a professional setting can effectively remove a tattoo that violates Army tattoo policy, allowing you to join and be promoted in the branch.

If you find that you need to remove your tattoo(s) in order to enlist, find a Removery location near you.

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