Few things have sparked as much discussion and argument in the ever-changing army environment as the regulation surrounding tattoos – particularly the US Army Neck Tattoo Policy.
Tattoos have historically been used as a means of self-expression and personal identification, acting as badges of honor, artistic statements, or affiliation emblems.
However, inside the constraints of the military forces, where conformity and uniformity are critical, tattoo approval has been constantly evaluated. Perhaps none of the body areas allowed for tattooing has caused more debate than the neck. Neck tattoos have typically faced rigorous limitations among military branches due to their high visibility and potential for distraction.
The latest update to the policy came in June 2022 and left many people asking the question – can you have neck tattoos in the army? Let’s find out.
Army Neck Tattoo Policy 2023
As of 2023, the US Army relies on the changes made in the summer of 2022. In case new developments occur, this article will be your best source of updated regulations.
Please note that the current Army neck tattoo policy applies to both those in the recruitment process and soldiers who already serve.
Before the 2022 changes, neck tattoos were outright banned and to get inside the army with a neck tattoo, you had to apply for a tattoo waiver. Waivers were by no means a guarantee and in some cases took weeks or even months before being resolved.
After the changes, US Army soldiers are allowed to have one neck tattoo – as long as it’s placed on the back of the neck and doesn’t exceed 2 inches in length (in any direction).
“We always review policy to keep the Army as an open option to as many people as possible who want to serve. This directive makes sense for currently serving Soldiers and allows a greater number of talented individuals the opportunity to serve now.”– said Maj. Gen. Doug Stitt.
Other Changes in the Latest Policy
The neck was one of three body parts affected by the new tattoo policy change concerning the US Army. The two others are:
- Hands – a maximum of one tattoo per each hand, not exceeding 1 inch in length (in any direction). Additionally, finger tattoos are now allowed as long as they are not visible when the fingers are closed
- Ears – a maximum of one to two per each year, not exceeding one inch in length (in any direction)
Tattoos on most body areas are now acceptable, as seen in our infographic above, with a few small exclusions.
Was not allowed, however, regardless of the placement and the size, are tattoos that are deemed offensive in any way. Please keep that in mind when getting your new ink done since all military branches (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, USMC, Space Force) are unanimous in declining applicants with inappropriate body art.
While the recent reforms do not yet provide you complete independence in terms of the size and placement of your tattoo, they are undoubtedly a step in the right direction and give optimism for additional good revisions in the future.
Changes Spark Mixed Reactions
Fair to say, the latest Army neck tattoo policy modification has prompted a vigorous debate among the military community.
Although the vast majority of people welcome new developments, there are individuals who think that constantly moving the goalposts of what’s allowed and what’s not is not great for the image.
Proponents say that loosening the neck tattoo restriction encourages inclusion by recognizing that body art is an important aspect of modern society and individual identity. Allowing troops to express themselves through neck tattoos, they argue, creates a more welcoming and varied atmosphere within the armed services.
Critics, on the other hand, are concerned about the possible influence of visible tattoos on a soldier’s professional image as well as the perception of discipline and uniformity. They argue that the lenient approach may distract from the military’s traditional ideals and project an unprofessional image to the public, thereby jeopardizing the armed services’ perceived seriousness and effectiveness.