Amplification to the Marine Corps Tattoo Policy
Date signed: 1/15/2010
MARADMINs active number: 029/10
Guidance, and a single-source document for the official Marine Corps tattoo policy.
2. For generations, Marines have served proudly in every region of the world, fulfilling our role as America’s ambassadors and defenders of freedom. We are recognized around the globe for our military prowess and high standards of military bearing and appearance. The growing trend of excessive tattoos limits world-wide assignability of Marines and detracts from one of the most visible hallmarks of our corps – our distinguished appearance. This tattoo policy seeks to balance the personal desires of Marines with their inherent responsibilities to set the example and present the sharp military appearance America has come to expect of her Marines.
3. The policy’s overall intent is to ensure Marines can be assigned whenever and wherever they are needed and to maintain our professional demeanor and the high standards expected of the Marine Corps. This MARADMIN provides the consolidated/updated Marine Corps tattoo policy and takes precedence over all previous MARADMINs on the subject.
A. Tattoos/brands continue to be subject to review under certain circumstances (e.g., promotion, assignment, school, etc.) To determine if any are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale, or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Marine Corps.
B. The following is the existing policy promulgated in refs a and b.
(1) prior to enlistment into the Marine Corps, applicants with more than four (4) tattoos/brands will be administratively reviewed IAW with Ref B.
(2) tattoos/brands that are sexist (express nudity), racist, eccentric or offensive in nature, express an association with conduct or substances prohibited by the Marine Corps drug policy and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), to include tattoos associated with illegal drugs, drug usage, or paraphernalia, are prohibited.
(3) tattoos/brands that depict vulgar or anti-American content, bring possible discredit to the Marine Corps, or associate the applicant/Marine with any extremist group or organization are prohibited.
(4) tattoos/brands on the head and neck are prohibited.
(5) sleeve tattoos as defined in paragraph 5a are prohibited. Half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoos that are visible to the eye when wearing standard physical training (PT) gear are likewise prohibited. No additional action is required by Marines whose sleeve tattoos were previously grandfathered per MARADMIN 198/07.
4. The following additional guidance clarifies the Marine Corps tattoo policy and is effective immediately. Marines who do not meet this guidance will be grandfathered per paragraph 6.
A. The following applies to all Marines.
(1) tattoos/brands on the hands, fingers, and wrists are prohibited.
(2) tattoos/brands in the mouth are prohibited.
(3) individual tattoos visible in the standard pt uniform (shorts and t-shirt) will be no larger than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger.
(4) band tattoos not in compliance with paragraph 5b are prohibited.
(5) 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.
(6) 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.
B. 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.
A. Sleeve tattoos: a tattoo(s) that is very large or a collection of smaller tattoos that covers, or almost covers, a person’s entire arm or leg. A half/quarter sleeve tattoo is defined as a very large tattoo or a collection of smaller tattoos that covers, or almost covers, the entire portion of an arm or leg above or below the elbow or knee.
B. Band tattoos: a tattoo which partially or fully encircles the circumference of the body part. Officers are allowed band tattoo(s) with a maximum width of two (2) inches. Enlisted Marines are allowed band tattoo(s) with a maximum width less than one-quarter of the respective body part(s) (i.e., leg or arm) exposed surface while wearing the standard pt uniform.
C. One tattoo: a single tattoo is defined as one (1) or multiple tattoos spaced apart that can still be covered by a circle with a diameter of five (5) inches. Tattoos spaced apart that cannot be covered by a circle with a diameter of five (5) inches are considered separate tattoos.
D. The neck: any portion above the collarbone in the front area, above the first cervical vertebrae in the back area, or otherwise visible due to the open collar of the short sleeve khaki shirt, without an undershirt.
E. Excessive tattoos: when the combined tattoo coverage on a particular body part(s), i.e., leg or arm, exceeds one-quarter of the respective body part(s) exposed surface while the individual is wearing the standard PT uniform.
F. Applicant/candidate: for the purposes of this MARADMIN, an “applicant” is any civilian in the accession pipeline for enlistment into the Marine Corps, and a “candidate” includes any participant in an officer accession program such as MECEP, officer candidate course, platoon leaders course, naval reserve officer training corps, U.S. Naval academy, etc.
6. Coordinating Instructions
A. Commanders of Marines who do not meet the guidance contained in paragraph 4 will take the following action to grandfather those Marines. Commands will insert a photograph(s) of the Marines respective tattoos/brands, along with a measurement(s) of the size in inches and of the locations(s) on the body, and date the tattoo/brands was documented on page 11 of the Marine’s Officer Qualification Record (OQR)/Service Record Book (SRB). The individual will sign the page 11 entry verifying the information is correct. The information shall be forwarded to the respective personnel administration center for entry into the Marine’s OQR/SRB not later than 1 June 2010.
B. For all applicants/candidates currently in an officer or enlisted accession pipeline, the commanding general, Marine Corps recruiting command (CG MCRC) will inform them of additions to the tattoo policy. Those not in compliance will be grandfathered and MCRC will document all tattoos/brands not later than 1 June 2010.
C. The Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (DC MRA) is designated as the final adjudicating authority for any tattoo issue regarding retention, special duty assignments, and tattoo content. Commanders of Marines with questionable tattoo(s) can submit documentation for adjudication. Such requests shall be submitted to DC MRA (MM), via the chain of command, using an administrative action form. The package will include a photograph(s) of the questionable tattoo(s); a copy of any page 11 containing an entry which grandfathered the tattoo(s); measurement(s) of the size in inches; description and location(s) of the tattoo(s); and an explanation as to why the tattoo(s) was deemed questionable by the commander. Once DC MRA has made a determination on the tattoo(s), the Marine’s commander will annotate the information in the Marine’s OQR/SRB (page 11) and determine the appropriate actions.
D. The CG MCRC is the final adjudicating authority for any tattoo issue involving accessions (both officer and enlisted), to include enlisted Marines who may apply for a commissioning or warrant officer program. Exception to the above is any accession resulting from an officer retention board in which the adjudicating authority is the director, Manpower Management Division (MM) for DC MRA.
E. Commanders are required to disseminate this policy, educate all Marines within their command as soon as possible, and monitor compliance. Individual Marines are responsible to provide the command with the appropriate information for grandfathering. Failure to provide the required information may result in administrative/punitive actions; commanders shall take the appropriate action as required and within UCMJ limits to enforce and maintain compliance.
F. As appropriate Marine Corps orders and regulations are revised IAW this MARADMIN, announcements will be promulgated via separate correspondence.
7. This message is applicable to the Marine Corps total force.
8. Release authorized by James T. Conway, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps.//