Coast Guard updates tattoo policy

The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard announced Thursday it is changing its tattoo policy for new recruits and current service members, effective immediately.

The policy change will ensure the Coast Guard’s workforce presents a sharp and professional military appearance to the public while permitting body art that is consistent with the Coast Guard’s core values. Aligning the policy closer to current tattoo trends also allows the Coast Guard to increase the pool of otherwise-qualified potential applicants for service.

Changes to the policy now permit:

• Tattoos and/or brands may not be visible above the collar of the Coast Guard’s operational dress uniform’s (ODU) crew neck T-shirt.
• One finger tattoo per hand is permitted. The tattoo must be between the first knuckle closest to the wrist (base of finger) and the second knuckle on the finger. One ring tattoo per hand remains authorized and will be considered as a finger tattoo. No tattoos are authorized on the thumbs.
• A single tattoo per hand no larger than one inch in any dimension, is authorized on the hand between the wrist and the first knuckle closest to the wrist (base of finger). No tattoos are authorized on the palms of hands.
• In total, one hand tattoo and one finger or ring tattoo are allowed per hand. 

“I am pleased to see the Coast Guard’s new tattoo policy reinforces a professional appearance to the public while adopting some of the very same tattoo standards that are now acceptable among the public,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden. “The new tattoo policy will expand our recruiting candidate pool and provide those already serving in the Coast Guard with a few new options.”

The rules governing body piercings and other body modifications have not changed from the previous policy. To read the new policy in its entirety, go to

By Professional Mariner Staff