On Mar. 31, the Navy announced changes to its tattoo policy as part of NAVADMIN 082/16.

The policy update came in response to feedback from fleet and senior leadership who recognized the popularity of tattoos with currently serving Sailors. The change also ensures that the Navy does not pass up the opportunity to recruit applicants who may have tattoos.

“There is no way to accurately predict the affect these changes will have on recruiting; however, there may be a few applicants having one tattoo on the neck no larger than one inch which will allow them to enlist,” said Chris Pond, enlisted policy analyst for Navy Recruiting Command (NRC). “Prior to this change, they may not have been able to enlist.”

Changes to the policy relate to the size and location of the tattoo. Now Sailors are authorized to have one tattoo on the neck that shall not exceed one inch in dimension (height/width). The neck, for Navy purposes, is defined as the area between the collar line of a crew neck t-shirt and the base of the jaw bone. Tattoos meeting these requirements are acceptable behind the ear. Tattoos are still not permitted on the head, face and scalp.
In terms of size, the tattoo restriction only applies to those tattoos that are located on the neck and behind the ear only. Tattoos on the legs and arms can be any size.

Due to the recent updates, there are some misunderstandings that have accompanied the changes.

“Misconceptions were applicants would be able to enlist if they have tattoos on their neck,” said Pond. “In reality, it’s one tattoo no larger than one inch in measurement. Another misconception is we can now enlist applicants with large or full sleeve tattoos on their arms. The size restriction in the Navy uniform regulations was always waiverable. The only disqualifier was content, or tattoos on the neck or above.”

While most of the attention has been on how the changes will affect who will be recruited, there are still some questions regarding who will be allowed to do the recruiting.

“The new policy will not affect the guidelines for becoming a Navy recruiter,” said Master Chief Navy Counselor Charles Whitfield, national chief recruiter at NRC. “Tattoos will still be part of the Special Duty screening form. Tattoos will be reviewed by the members’ commanding officer and command master chief; pictures of the tattoos will be submitted as part of the package. Questionable tattoos will be looked at for approval by the career recruiting force detailer.”

The new tattoo policy announced in NAVADMIN 082/16 became effective May 1. Future Sailors in the Delayed Entry Program, prior to Apr. 12,not meeting this policy are grandfathered and authorized to ship, provided a documented tattoo waiver NAVPERS 1070/613 is placed in the member’s service record. Applicants enlisting on or after May 1 must meet new policy requirements to be accepted.

NRC consists of a command headquarters, two Navy Recruiting Regions and 26 NRDs which serve hundreds of recruiting stations across the country.

The overall mission of NRC is to recruit the best men and women for America's Navy to accomplish today's missions and meet tomorrow's challenges.


For more news from Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, visit us on the web, www.navy.mil/local/cnrc/; on our Youtube channel, U.S. Navy Recruiter; on Facebook, www.facebook.com/NavyRecruiting; and on Twitter, @usnavyrecruiter.


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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)