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What is the USMC tattoo policy?

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Quick Answer

As of 2014, the United States Marine Corps lists extensive tattoo regulations affecting prospective enlistees and Marines seeking promotion. As a general policy, large highly visible tattoos and tattoos depicting ideals, activities or items in conflict with the USMC's standards are prohibited. According to the USMC, the goal of its tattoo policy is to strike a balance between self-expression and the distinguished, sharp appearance and professionalism of United States Marines.

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Full Answer

The USMC reports that any tattoo showing illegal activities or drugs, sexist, racist or offensive images, words or behaviors is prohibited. Tattoos that express anti-American sentiments, suggest extremist affiliations or could be interpreted as reflecting poorly on the USMC are also banned.

The USMC regulates the location and size of tattoos on its service members. The head, face, neck, hands, fingers, wrists and inside of the mouth are off limits to tattooing. Full and half-sleeve leg and arm tattoos are prohibited, but existing service members who had these types of tattoos prior to regulation changes in 2010 are grandfathered in as long as the tattoos were properly documented in their service records.

Any tattoo visible while wearing the standard issue physical training uniform is required to be smaller than the size of a hand, and no visible tattoos are allowed when wearing the Marine's dress uniform.

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