USMC Tattoo Policy

According to a 2010 story, “In addition to the already prohibited head and neck, Marines cannot get tattoos or brands on their hands, fingers, wrists or inside their mouths, according to Marine Administrative Message 29/10 released Jan. 15, 2010.

Both commissioned and warrant officers are now limited to four tattoos or brands visible when wearing the standard physical training uniform, according to the new policy.

The policy’s intent is “to ensure Marines can be assigned whenever and wherever they are needed,” stated the message.

The recent change helped to clarify the March 2007 overhaul of the Corps’ tattoo policy, which prohibited excessive tattoos covering arms and legs.

Size limit

The new policy also clarified the size of any tattoos visible in PT uniforms cannot be larger than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined and the thumb touching the base of the index finger. The 2007 policy was vague on the size, stating only that very large tattoos or collections of smaller tattoos covering all or most of a person’s arms or legs – also called sleeve tattoos – were unauthorized.

For officers, band tattoos wider than 2 inches are now prohibited. Enlisted Marines are allowed bands only as wide as one quarter of the arm or leg where it is tattooed as seen in the PT uniform. Band tattoos can either partially or fully encircle the circumference of the arm or leg.

Additionally, any enlisted Marine who had grandfathered sleeve tattoos can no longer apply for any Marine Corps commissioning or warrant officer programs.

Marine Corps Tattoo Policy Story

USMC Tattoo Policy Video

Additional restrictions from the official order

Tattoos/brands will not be visible or apparent on the feet or legs when wearing the service a, blue dress a/b, blue-white dress a/b, or the evening dress uniforms. Exception: formal inspections as prescribed by commanders and/or inspector general teams.

Tattoos not visible or apparent without the use of ultra-violet lighting (black light) must meet the policy as set forth herein and iaw the references.

Added guidance applicable only to officers (commissioned/warrant)

(1) officers are limited to not more than four (4) tattoos/brands visible in the standard pt uniform.
(2) band tattoos exceeding a maximum width of two (2) inches are prohibited.
(3) enlisted marines with previously grandfathered sleeve tattoos are not eligible for a marine corps commissioning or warrant officer program. In other words, an enlisted marine grandfathered for a sleeve tattoo iaw maradmin 198/07 has no restrictions for reenlistment or promotion as an enlisted marine, but is not eligible to apply for the marine enlisted commissioning education program (mecep), warrant officer, or any other enlisted-to-officer program.
(4) prior to commissioning/warrant officer appointment, officer candidates will be rescreened for tattoos which are not in compliance with this policy.


MARADMIN  Active  Number: 029/10

Corps Clears Up Tattoo Policy


2 thoughts on “USMC Tattoo Policy

  1. Will it make a difference for the waiver I needed for OCS if I get a tattoo after OCS, and during Senior year of college, before I go to TBS? I can’t imagine it would make any difference, as long as it’s within regs.

  2. I currently have grandfathered sleeves, serving in the reserves as a Sergeant; prior active. It’s heartbreaking that a select few of my brothers and I can’t become officers due to the noted policy. Personally, I was truly hoping for greater progress and reason; in the pursuit of my degrees. One day. Semper Fi.

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