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Marine Corps releases new tattoo policy – here it is

The Cape Fear Tattoo and Arts Expo at the Wilmington Convention Center, April 27-29, 2012. (Cpl. John Suleski/U.S. Marine Corps)
October 29, 2021

The Marine Corps on Friday released an updated tattoo policy that once again permits full arm sleeve tattoos, which were prohibited for the past five years.

Marine Corps Bulletin 1020 released Oct. 29, 2021 cancels the previous bulletin, and now permits tattoos be placed on nearly all areas of the body except head, neck and hands (except a single finger band), as long as the tattoos are not otherwise prohibited.

The Marine Corps tattoo policy released Oct. 29, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

The previous bulletin released June 2, 2016 had declared areas within two inches above the elbow or knee, and one inch below the elbow or knee, as “unauthorized areas,” thus prohibiting Marines from having full sleeve tattoos on their arms or legs.

The Marine Corps tattoo policy released June 2, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

The previous bulletin also restricted single or groups of tattoos from exceeding three inches or the width of a hand. That restriction was also lifted with Friday’s update.

“This Bulletin ensures that the Marine Corps maintains its ties to the society it represents and removes all barriers to entry for those members of society wishing to join its ranks,” the Marine bulletin said on Friday.

Marine spokesman Maj. Jordan Cochran said, “The decision to change the policy came after a months-long review of existing regulations, which were believed to have an adverse effect on retention and recruiting efforts. In the course of this review, a panel of Marines from various backgrounds and ranks recommended changes to the policy, which are reflected in the bulletin.”

The Corps bulletin cautioned that Marines could face some consequences for having tattoos that aren’t prohibited by the policy.

“Marines are advised there are future career implications regarding the application of tattoos. A tattoo that is not specifically prohibited may still prevent future duty assignments,” the bulletin said.

Tattoos even in authorized areas of the body are not allowed to be extremist, obscene or indecent, sexist, or racist.