US Army Hand Tattoo Policy 2023 (Can You Have Hand Tattoos?)

Recently, the United States Army implemented a significant revision to its longstanding regulations regarding body art, and the Army hand tattoo policy was particularly targeted.

Tattoos have long served as a means of self-expression, cultural identification, and personal storytelling for individuals across various walks of life. However, when it comes to military service, strict regulations have traditionally governed the visibility and content of body art.

The latest changes to the Army’s tattoo policy reflect an ongoing effort to balance personal expression and the maintenance of a professional appearance, particularly as it pertains to hand tattoos.

So, can you have hand tattoos in the army as of 2023? Let’s find out.

US Army Hand Tattoo Policy 2023

The most recent changes to the Army hand tattoo policy came in June 2022 and apply both to the recruiters and those already serving.

Prior to the update, no hand tattoos were allowed on those serving in the US Army. Of course, individual cases could have applied for a tattoo waiver but this process sometimes took weeks before being settled.

After the update, US Army soldiers are allowed one tattoo on each hand. There is, however, a limit regarding the size. The new Army regulation on hand tattoos states that none of the tattoos can exceed one inch in length (in any direction).

Army hand tattoo policy - allowed places

What’s also worth pointing out is, small finger tattoos are now allowed as long as they are not visible while the fingers are closed.

Other Affected Body Parts

Hands aren’t the only body part that has been affected by the latest policy change.

The two other areas in which US Army soldiers can now display their body art are the following:

  • Neck – one tattoo is allowed on the back of the neck, with the size limit set to 2 inches (in any direction)
  • Ears – a maximum of one tattoo per each ear, with the size limit set to 1 inch (in any direction)
The full US Army tattoo policy -

As you can see on our infographic above, tattoos on most body parts are now welcome with some minor exceptions.

While the latest changes don’t yet give you the full freedom of what and where you can get it before getting into the Army, they are certainly once again a step in the right direction, and yet again give hope for further positive updates in the future.

Fair to say, the recent Army hand tattoo policy update has sparked a lively discussion within the military community.

Proponents argue that relaxing the hand tattoo policy promotes inclusivity, acknowledging that body art is an integral part of modern culture and individual identity. They contend that allowing soldiers to express themselves through hand tattoos fosters a more accepting and diverse environment within the armed forces.

On the other hand, critics express concerns about the potential impact of visible tattoos on a soldier’s professional image and the perception of discipline and uniformity. They contend that the relaxed policy may detract from the military’s traditional values and convey an unprofessional image to the public, potentially compromising the perceived seriousness and effectiveness of the armed forces.