US Marines – Tattoo Policy Change

Marines will soon be barred from getting large tattoos on their lower arms and legs, according to a new policy announced.

The new policy also covers collections of smaller tattoos but stops short of prohibiting all tattoos, said Lt. Brian Donnelly, a spokesman for Manpower and Marine Reserves. "It only prohibits sleeve tattoos as defined, tattoos on the head or neck, and tattoos that are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale or that bring discredit on the Marine Corps, as defined in the order."

"Half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoos that are visible to the eye when wearing standard PT gear [T-shirt and shorts] are likewise prohibited," the MarAdmin said.

Sleeves are tattoos that cover a person's arm or leg. Half-sleeves or quarter-sleeves are defined as a large tattoo or a collection of smaller ones "that covers, or almost covers, the entire portion of an arm or leg above or below the elbow or knee."

Marines who already have sleeves will be grandfathered but must document their art by July 1. Commanders will have to include photographs of the skin art — along with dimensions, body location and the date of documentation — in personnel records.

The new policy is aimed at reining in tattooing and holding onto Corps standards, the top Marine officer said.

While Marines have long been prohibited from having racist or sexist tattoos, or ink on their head or neck, new and existing leathernecks will now be banned from getting large "sleeve" tattoos as of April 1, according to MarAdmin 198/07.

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