US Army Officer Tattoo Policy 2023 (Can Officers Have Tattoos?)

The social norms and acceptance keep evolving year-on-year and at this rate, and so do the tattoo regulations surrounding the US Army.

The latest update to the body art, sealed in June 2022, further relaxed restrictions on what army soldiers can and cannot display.

But do the changes also relate to higher-ranking members? Can Army officers have tattoos?

In this article, we will dive into the current US Army officer tattoo policy to make sure that any aspiring officers are in line with the most recent requirements.

Summary of tattoo policy for Army Officers

2023 Army Officer Tattoo Policy

Before we dive into the latest changes in the AR 670-1 tattoo policy, it’s worth pointing out the regulations are the same for all Army members, regardless of whether you are an aspiring soldier or a high-rank officer.

The 2022 policy change uplifted a ban on hand, neck, and ear tattoos – well, at least to some extent.

Before the update, body art in those areas was outright banned but now is allowed under the following conditions:

  • Hands – army officers can now have one tattoo on each hand, as long as the tattoo doesn’t exceed 1 inch in length (in any direction). Furthermore, officers can also have finger tattoos, provided that they are not visible when the hand is closed
Neck tattoo policy for army officers
  • Ears – tattoos located on the back of ears are allowed as long as they don’t exceed 1 inch 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.

Of course, there are many more body areas that allow tattoos (as seen in the infographic below). Basically, any tattoo that doesn’t extend beyond your collar (is coverable) is welcome.

The full US Army tattoo policy - infographic

As things stand, the only fully prohibited part of your body is the face, and quite frankly, it’s unlikely this will be changed anytime soon.

Of course, you also have to take into consideration the design of your tattoo. Even if the tattoo is located in the right area, it doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to be accepted. The 

Army tattoo regulations 670-1 clearly state that no offensive tattoos are allowed. That rules out anyone with racist, xenophobic, and gang-related body art.

Last but not least,  it’s important to mention that covering your tattoos (outside of the uniform) is not allowed. If the tattoos are not located in the right areas or are distasteful, a bandaid or makeup cover is not possible.

Tattoo Waivers

A tattoo waiver is a formal request made by an individual seeking permission to serve as an Army officer despite not meeting the standard tattoo policy requirements.

This process allows candidates to be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature, size, location, and content of their ink.

In the past, the Army enforced a more restrictive approach to tattoos, with regulations strictly limiting the size and visibility of body art. However, in recent years, recognizing the need to attract and retain a diverse pool of talented individuals, the Army has revised its policies to provide certain exemptions and opportunities for qualified candidates with tattoos.

To obtain a tattoo waiver, aspiring Army officers must submit a detailed application that includes photographs and descriptions of their tattoos. The reviewing authority, typically the individual’s recruiting battalion or higher-level command, carefully evaluates each case, considering factors such as the tattoo’s subject matter, size, and placement, as well as its potential to detract from a professional appearance in military attire.

The tattoo waiver process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to even months so you might be required to show a lot of patience.

Other Military Branches

It’s worth pointing out that just because your tattoos meet the current requirements of the US Army officer tattoo policy, doesn’t mean that they are the right choice for other branches of the military.

The Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, Space Force, and USMC might have different ideas of what’s acceptable in terms of appearance. It’s worth getting accustomed to each policy before the application process and you can do so easily on our website by clicking on any of the links in this paragraph.