Marine Corps Tattoo Policy

Marine Corps Tattoo Policy

In Military, Tattoo Policies by Trip2 Comments

Marine Tattoo Policy

Marine Tattoo Policy

If you want to be one of the few and you have or are thinking of getting a tattoo, you should know what the Marine Corps tattoo policy is. The policy has changed over the last couple of years.

In the past, the general rule has been a Marine cannot have a tattoo on their head or neck. The tattoo could not be anti-American, sexist, racist, anti-social, or to have any gang or extremist affiliations. Generally, a tattoo of one of the official marine corp flags would be deemed acceptable.

In 2007, there were additional guidelines (Marine Administrative Message 198/07) put into place after the Marine Corps noticed an increase in sleeve tattoos. The Marine Corps considers a sleeve tattoo to be a very large tattoo, or collection of smaller tattoos, that covers or almost covers a persons entire arm or leg. When a Marine is wearing a standard physical training T-shirt and shorts, there can’t be any full, half or quarter sleeve tattoos visible.

Since 2008, Special Duty Assignments have been affected by an addition to the tattoo policy (Marine Administrative Message 494/08). Marines grandfathered for sleeve tattoos are not authorized to serve as a Recruiter (PMOS 8411) or a Marine Security Guard (PMOS 8156). The new guidelines were created because the Recruiters and Security Guards have a significant amount of contact with civilians and could influence people’s perceptions of Marines. There may be some situations where Marines not authorized may continue to work in their present assignment, but other Marines looking to switch their PMOS will be affected by the new regulations. Marine Combat Instructors (PMOS 0913), Drill Instructors (PMOS 0911) or Marine Corps Security Forces Guards (PMOS 8152) may continue to apply to serve after being grandfathered in.

* [UPDATE BELOW] * The Marine Corps has updated their tattoo policy.

The Marine Corps has just released a new document (MARADMIN 029/10) to clarify and provide additional guidance regarding their tattoo policy.

Prohibited Tattoos:

  • Sexist (express nudity)
  • Racist
  • Eccentric
  • Offensive
  • Associated with Illegal Drugs, Drug Usage or Paraphernalia
  • Depict Vulgar or Anti-American Content
  • Associated with Extremist Group or Organization
  • On the Head, Neck, Wrists, Hands or Fingers
  • In the Mouth
  • Half-Sleeve or Quarter Sleeve Tattoos (visible while wearing PT gear)
  • Individual tattoos (visible while wearing PT gear) will be no larger than the wearer’s hand with finger’s extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger
  • Feet or leg tattoos must not be apparent when wearing the Service A, Blue Dress A/B, Blue-White Dress A/B, or the Evening Dress Uniform.

Additional Guidelines Applicable to Officers Only:

  • 4 Maximum Visible Tattoos
  • Band Tattoos (exceeding 2 inch width)

* Prior to Enlistment, applicants with more than 4 tattoos will be administratively reviewed.

For more information and further explanation, see the Official U.S. Marine Corps Tattoo Policy.

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What Do You Think About the Marine Tattoo Policy?


  1. Calmer N Ropati

    My daughter just got turned down by the US MARINES because she has cultural tattoos. This is not right. Disqualified because she wears a Samoan Malu (Leg tattoos). These tattoos are part of the Samoan culture, not gang affiliated. These tattoos are sacred to the Samoan people and its a very important part of our culture. I too wear the Samoan pe’a (Body Tattoo). Its 2014 and people are still discriminating against what they don’t understand. Do your research before you make judgment against other races. My daughter wants to serve her country like her father and all her relatives did before her. My daughter is a second degree black belt, instructor and in college. She s only 18 years old and wants to join up. The US MARINES need to get with the program and look into this. Very upset father.

    1. Trip

      Calmer, So sorry to hear this… Your daughter sounds like a perfect candidate for the US Marines. Will they not allow her to cover them while in uniform?

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