Navy Tattoos-Brands-Body Art Policy

Before you get your next tattoo!

If there was one branch of service that was synonymous with tattoos, I think it would be the Navy. The days of the Sailor pulling into some exotic far east port, having a few drinks then heading to the local tattoo artist have been seriously hampered by political correctness. The Sailor can still get a tattoo, but must consider a number of things before picking the location, size, and content before moving forward.

The policies of tattooing, branding and body art extend to those wishing to join the Navy. Below I have quoted a section of the Navy recruiting manual which discusses the topic.

Four criteria will be used to determine whether tattoos/body art/brands are permitted for Navy personnel: content, location, size and cosmetic. (During the screening process, tattoos must be seen either in person or by sighting a photograph)

(a) Content. Tattoos/body art/brands located anywhere on the body that are prejudicial to good order, discipline, and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the naval service are prohibited. For example, tattoos/body art/brands that are obscene, sexually explicit, and/or advocate discrimination based on sex, race, religion, ethnic, or national origin are prohibited. In addition, tattoos/body art/brands that symbolize affiliation with gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use are prohibited.

(b) Location. No tattoos/body art/brands on the head, face, neck or scalp. The neck area for purpose of this policy is any portion visible when wearing a properly fitted crew neck T-shirt. However, the NRD CO may approve an eligibility determination for a tattoo visible above the collar of a crew neck T-shirt, but is not visible while wearing a properly fitting open collar uniform shirt (from any direction). In addition, otherwise permissible tattoos/body art/brands on the torso area of the body shall not be visible through white uniform clothing.

(c) Size. Individual tattoos/body art/brands exposed by wearing a short sleeve uniform shirt shall be no larger in size than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger. Tattoos/body art/brands that exceed size criteria are waiverable provided they do not violate the content or location criteria.

(d) Cosmetic Tattoos. This regulation does not prohibit cosmetic tattooing to correct medical conditions requiring such treatment. For the purposes of this regulation, cosmetic tattooing refers to medical or surgical procedures conducted by licensed, qualified medical personnel.

(5) Mutilation. Intentional mutilation of any part of the body is prohibited. Mutilation is defined as the intentional radical alteration of the body, head, face or skin for the purpose of and or resulting in an abnormal appearance. Examples of mutilation include, but are not limited to a split of forked tongue; foreign objects inserted under the skin to create a design or pattern; enlarged or stretched holes in the ears (other than a normal piercing); intentional scarring on the neck, face or scalp; and intentional burns creating a design or pattern.

(6) Dental Ornamentation. The use of gold, platinum, or other veneers or caps for purposes of dental ornamentation is prohibited. For purposes of this regulation, ornamentation is defined as decorative veneers or caps. Teeth, whether natural, capped, or veneered, will not be ornamented with designs, jewels, initials or other similar ornamentation.

While in the Delayed Entry Program, Future Sailors should not add any tattoos, body art, body piercings, etc. Not only is there a chance for infection, but the art or piercing itself may very well disqualify you and lead to your discharge.

UPDATE as of 15 OCT 2009: “Cosmetic tattoos applied in good taste so that colors blend with natural skin tone and enhance natural features are acceptable. Exaggerated or faddish cosmetic styles are not authorized. Permanent lipstick colors shall be conservative and complement the individual.”
UPDATE as of 28 May 2010: “Tattoos on the inner lip that are not visible with an open mouth are acceptable as long as they meet content criteria.”
UPDATE as of October 15, 2012: “Tattoos/body art/brands that exceed the top of a properly fitted crew neck T-shirt may no longer be approved for enlistment.”
UPDATE as of November 5, 20132: “Policy guidance for applicants with tattoos has been updated. The neck area for purpose of this policy is any portion visible when wearing a properly fitted crew neck T-shirt. However, the NRD CO may approve an eligibility determination for a tattoo visible above the collar of a crew neck T-shirt, but is not visible while wearing a properly fitting open collar uniform shirt (from any direction). Additionally, during the screening process, tattoos must be seen either in person or by sighting a photograph.”

The current Tattoo Screening Certificate: NAVCRUIT 1130/104

Read Comments (211)

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211 Responses to “Before you get your next tattoo!”

  1. NCCM(ret) says:


    Individually, they sound like they would receive a waiver without any issues, but because of the number of them, I don’t know what the response will be – my best guess is that you should be okay. I hope you come back with some follow-up to let us know how it turns out.

  2. Kruze says:

    I am currently in the dep and dont leave until november. I want to finish a tattoo i got prior to entering the dep. Is it possible for me to get this tattoo before leaving for basic?

  3. NCCM(ret) says:


    I HIGHLY recommend that you advise your recruiter before you take any action. It is not recommended to have any tattooing done while you are in the DEP as you may end up disqualifying yourself.

  4. MASR says:

    Hey, im currently finishing up MA school, when i go on leave i plan to get a tattoo on my forarm, it might end up being slightly bigger than my hand. Will this be a problem when i report down to Kings Bay to duty?

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I would suggest waiting until you check into your first command before you go out and get your tattoo. Don’t check in with what could be a potential problem (fist impressions) – I am sure King’s Bay has many fine tattoo establishments.

  6. Kevin says:


    i had my ears gaged years ago (i’m 33 now) and have not worn an ear ring in 10 years but the holes are still visible. I was at a 5/8 when i took them out and now probably at a 2g and they have not yet grown up in full. What are my chances of getting in the Navy? I have many tattoos that i know will be waived and none visible. I am just woried about my ears.

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If the ear lobe appears to have a visible hole, one you can see through, then you will be disqualified.

  8. DA21 says:

    What to do about my nipple piercing, I’m 17, just before the meps part of the process, so far all of my forms are through, should I tell my recruiter about my piercing? Or should I take it out through meps and keep it hidden? Or should I take it out (only if neccesary)?

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:


    You tell the recruiter of the piercing and you take it out for MEPS. You will not be allowed to have anything “in” the piercing while you are in uniform or at anytime during boot-camp.

  10. Ben says:

    It seems I cannot win for losing here. I got a tattoo of Michale Myers and Freddy Krueger on my right arm. They are roughly softball sized and in no way shape or form gang related, sexually explicit, or anything of that nature. The recruiter just looked at me and laughed like a juvenile child instead of at least explaining anything to me. I filled out waiver forms and have been waiting to hear something. It’s been 2 weeks now and I am about to consider joining the Army since the Marine Corps. has the same if not stricter policy than the Navy. I’m 25 years old and time isn’t necessarily on my side. I need to get into a branch and do what I do best, bust my ass for the man or woman in charge of me. I just always wanted to be a Navy Diver or at least work in aviation ordinance if I couldn’t become a diver. Please someone let me know if the Navy is worth it or just to head for the Army.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,
    Benjamin [last name redacted for privacy]

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I assume the recruiter took a picture of the tattoos when he sent the waiver in.

    Either way, you should have an answer from the Navy by now about whether your tattoos are within standards. I suggest that you make contact with the recruiter daily until he gets your answer – he needs to follow up with his command.

  12. Haley says:

    Would a quote going down the rib cage be with in standards for the navy?its nothing to do with anything explicit or morally wrong,so would it be okay?

    Please and thank you.

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If the quote is not offensive, you should be fine.

  14. ninaa says:

    Please help me. Im enlisting but have a small problem. Due to the nature of why i.had this tattoo done i.havent told my recruiter & am afraid ill get denied. On my neck behind my ear i have 2 footprints & the name of thr baby i lost in my abusive relationship.. Its 1inch by 1 & a half inch . Doyou think id b able to.get a waiver ?

  15. NCCM(Ret) says:


    No waivers are authorized for tattoos on or above the neck.

  16. Tyler says:

    Hi, I tried to join the marines a while back and had a tattoo waiver disqualified due to them accusing me if being a gang affiliate. My tattoo is a star with a crown on top with some syllables. Will this also disqualify me for the navy? If I had it removed would it still pose a problem? I hear that when you get tattoos removed you still have to have a waiver of what was removed, so could they still disqualify me saying that I was gang related? Thanks for your time.

  17. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I recommend that you contact the Navy recruiter and have him submit your tattoo for evaluation — each service makes their own determination; the Navy may view the tattoo differently. Once you receive an answer back — if it is negative, your recruiter will be able to guide you better as to what your next step should be. Having the tattoo removed may be the right answer, but MAKE SURE you are otherwise fully qualified before you go to the expense.

  18. Hailey says:

    I just got a new tattoo last month and I have to go to MEPS in a week, will I be okay?

  19. NCCM(Ret) says:


    As long as it is with in the standards described in the post and it is healed, you should be okay.

  20. Athenian_Warrior says:

    So, are you saying that if we declared war tomorrow and men 18 years of age and older had tattoos that were in non-compliance with your tattoo policy would not be drafted? I think not.

  21. NCCM(Ret) says:


    We have been at war for over a decade – during that time and before the economy crashing, recruiting was difficult; nevertheless, the policy became even more stringent.

  22. Rayne says:

    I’m 23 years old and in the DEP program. I went out with my friends last night and got a little messed up before stumbling into a tattoo shop and I got a small ship and rose outline. It it about the size of a fist and located on the lower back part of my calf. Do you think that this would disqualify my shipping to RTC? I already told my recruiter about it and I’m meeting him on Tuesday so he can see it and determine if I am disqualified.
    Thanks for your time

  23. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The tattoo’s location should not be a problem and the content doesn’t sound disqualifying.

    For your future, keep in mind that getting “a little messed up” is not an excuse.

  24. Rayne says:

    Thanks NCCM,
    Your right, I dont have any excuse for my actions. I put myself in a bad situation and put my naval career in jeopardy. Thank you for putting my mind to rest sir. Have a good Sunday and some good football.

  25. Kristy says:

    I have a very small tattoo of a lily behind my ear that represents just myself, approx. 1 inch x inch . would that disqualify me into joining the navy? Or would I have to get it removed?

  26. NCCM(Ret) says:


    No, the tattoo would have to be removed. I suggest that you go see a recruiter so he/she can ensure that you are otherwise fully qualified before you have any procedure to remove said tattoo.

  27. Nelly says:

    I want to enlist in the navy but I have a tattoo on my forearm it is not big smaller than my hand in script letters it say “God will not take you to,what he cannot take you through” I hope this will not be a problem thank you

  28. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Doesn’t sound like it will cause you an issue.

  29. Eric says:

    Hello, My son is 18 years old and wants to go into the Navy after graduating High School. He also wants to get a tattoo right away with the quote “I am the punishment of God.If you had not committed great sins,God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you”. Do you think this is going to prevent him from getting into the Navy? I am totally against it and his mother thinks it is ok as long as it is not on his neck,face,head, or larger than his hand. Please help me? Thank you.

  30. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Yes, I would think he would run into a lot of trouble joining any branch with such a phrase — I would be surprised if the waiver was even sent, let alone approved, “I am the punishment”, “God would not have sent a punishment like me” — does he need counseling?

  31. Eric says:

    I think he got the idea from a soccer player named Mario Balotelli who got it put on himself. My son goes to Charleston Catholic High School and makes good grades. That is why I am so surprised that he would want something like that put on his body. I am also surprised that his mother said it is ok. I asked him to wait till we can talk with the recruiter first and he said ok. What will they tell him? Thank you for your help. Eric

  32. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I think they will tell him to wait until after boot-camp to get any tattoo, and to ensure that he checks the tattoo guidelines that will be current at that time for members of the Armed Forces (they modify them occasionally).

  33. Eric says:

    Thank you for your great insite. I have talked to my wife and she also told him to wait till he talks to the recruiter about it. He has always been very well grounded and has not gotten into any trouble. That is why this was so shocking to me. My wife did not see that and thought it was only a tattoo. I knew better and am glad I asked him to wait and talked to you first. Thank you again. Eric

  34. Eric says:

    Well, I am back again. The recruiter told my son that it was ok to get that tattoo with that quote on it and he is going to get it done today. I am so upset about it and cannot really do anything about it. His mother is taking him to get it today. He has already filled out his paperwork to go into the Navy. I cannot believe the recruiter told him it was ok to get that saying put on him. I just hope it doesn’t ruin his chances of getting into the Navy. That would be a shame if that happens. Thanks again for your advise.

  35. Luis says:

    I’m getting a tattoo of my daughter’s name across my chest. I won’t be able to cover it with a hand. Will that disqualify me?

  36. NCCM(Ret) says:


    It shouldn’t give you trouble, but I advise everyone to wait until after boot-camp to get their tattoo (one that would be within standards of course) — why risk it at enlistment?

  37. Athenian_Warrior says:


    You avoided the answer to my question. The question is if the United Stated declared war tomorrow and started the draft and my son’s number was picked would he be disqualified for his tattoos? YES or NO.

  38. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Based on current instructions, yes.

  39. Shane says:

    I have a sleeve tattoo located on my lower left arm that says ” The gift of god is eternal life, The wages of sin is death. It covers all of my lower arm. I also have a pair of hands holding a rosery located in the same area. Would is dq me from the nazy?

  40. NCCM(Ret) says:


    You should not have a problem gaining permission to process with the tattoo you describe.

  41. SW2 Taylor says:

    Would you happen to know the policy on hand tattoos on current Navy members? I cant seem to find anything in the policy and have been seeing more and more of them. Even had a command chief with tattoos on his hands. No wanting to do much on my hands but considering running my sleeves (in progress) down to fade out right past the wrist. Plan on asking my command about it before i do it but wanted to get as much info as i can prior to talking to them. Thanks for any help you can give!!

  42. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The enlistment guidelines are in-line with Navy policy — use your command and the guide above and you will be okay.

  43. Adam says:

    Hi all. I’m wanting to join the Navy, I’m off to AFCO next week, but even though I don’t have any tattoos on my neck, hands and face, I do have a three quarter length B&W tattoo sleeve and even though the tattoo isn’t visible in No1 uniform, I fear it may be regarded as ‘numerous’ or ‘garish’.
    Anyone have any advice for me in regards to this?


  44. Adam says:

    I must add, the sleeve is on my right arm going as far as mid forearm…

  45. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The above post is for the United States Navy — are you joining the Royal Navy? For the US Navy, and from what I read about the Royal Navy, as long as the tattoo is not considered offensive, you should be fine.

  46. Adam says:

    Well I thought I had seen people comment on the Royal Navy, must have been another site. Yes, I’m joining the Royal Navy. ‘Excessive’ is a word that had bothered me because arm sleeves generally are considered as ‘excessive’.


  47. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Once you get a definitive answer, I hope you are able to come back and let me know. I am sure others will be interested (not just myself).

  48. Makiya says:

    My name is makiya I am currently finishing up high school and I want to enlist in the navy I have a tattoo behind my ear of an anchor and I had a tattoo on the back of my neck that says faith I also have a tattoo on the lower left side of my stomach of a butterfly by me having these tattoos will that disqualify me??? My anchor tattoo and my faith tattoo are not that big I can cover them up with my hand

  49. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Any tattoos on or above the neck are disqualifying — no waivers are authorized.

  50. Latoya says:

    I have a tattoo its FAITH ABOVE MY BREAST its small WOULD THAT BE A

  51. NCCM(Ret) says:


    As long as it is not touching any portion of your neck, you should be okay. The number of tattoos isn’t the issue per se, if the tattoos would be visible through the white uniform or violate content rules, then you will have a problem.

  52. Justin says:

    I have “Carpe Diem” tattooed on my wrist with a skull and roses on the prone side of my forearm (about the length of my forearm) as well as my mother with roses around her and a cross on the opposite side (about the length of my forearm. Would this be a DQ from enlistment?

  53. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Because both tats are larger than your hand, they will need to receive waiver consideration; as long as the tats are not considered offensive or violate what may be considered good order (I have no idea what other meanings “Carpe Diem” may have beyond the obvious — especially when grouped with a skull… more than likely fine, but I have never seen it before).

  54. Girlspok says:

    Hi I am about to re-enlist with the navy reserves as a medic but after reading on the internet that some tattoos can disqualify you during mepps I became concern. I have various tattoos but none are on my face, neck, wrist or head. When wearing a t-shirt a little bit of my right upper arm (tribal) tattoo shows. Also, on my right forearm I have a goatman kneeling down (that I got from a comic book). This tattoo is just barely smaller than my hand (it pretty much takes up my forearm). None of my tattoos are racist, gang related, philosophically driven or offensive to my knowledge. Also, I got all of my tattoos when I was in the Army reserves the first time. Have I killed my chances to re-enlist. If so, can would lasering them off allow me to join? Of course I will be letting my recruiter know asap. Thanks.

  55. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The tattoo that barely shows on your arm, as long as it is not larger than your hand and does not violate good order and discipline, it won’t require a waiver. The one that covers your forearm should require a waiver, but based on your description of the content, you should be okay. The rest of your tattoos, as long as they meet the content regulations, they sound like they should not be a problem (again, as long as they do not violate any content restrictions).

  56. Chris says:

    Hi i am currently getting 2 tattoo’s on my neck removed by laser, and got my ears stitched because i didn’t qualify for the Navy. For now is all going well but i haven’t told my recruiter that i have more tattoo’s, and they are not visible if i have for example a simple t-shirt and short pants, but what worries me besides that is that one of the tattoo’s is an outline of a Upside down Cross with a Quote saying ( Not Worthy) and is nothing ‘satanic” as most people would see that. It represents actually the personal trademark of Saint Peter, the first Pope, and it means not feeling worthy of dying the same way as Jesus. a show of humility and unworthyness before Christ. I have this tattoo on my Rib cage, wondering if it would be a problem?? is the one that most worry me even though is not easly visible at all.

  57. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I don’t think it will be a problem, but tell your recruiter, and he may be able to take a picture of it and send it to the waiver authority for a review — that way you would know for sure.

  58. MattC says:

    I have faith on the side of my hand and a koi fish on my other hand. will I have trouble?

  59. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I don’t think it would be an issue. The only thing i can think of that may make it an issue, or at least to bring it into question, would be if either tattoo is on the outside of the right hand — if when you render a hand salute, the tattoo is sending a message to the person you are saluting. I have not run into that before, but it would be the only thing I would question — if that was the case, that would be the tattoo I would send to the waiver authority just to be sure.

  60. MattC says:

    No it faces me if I salute. Yea every where I look it says no face, neck or scalp so the hand tats have been confusing! Really wanna join! im a welder & hoping to do underwater welding!

  61. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I would be surprised if you run into a problem because of those tattoos. Good luck!!

  62. HaskellC says:

    I was going to pick my job when I got denied for a tattoo that use slightly on the back of my neck. I have started the treatment to get it removed so I can enlist. But I was wondering if going delayed entry is a possibility while I am getting it removed.

  63. NCCM(Ret) says:


    As much as I think your idea of joining and remaining in the DEP until the treatment is completed is a good one, the issue is that when you are in the DEP, you have a boot-camp and A-school seat assigned to you that leaves on a certain day within a “shipping cycle”. People who are going through a treatment cannot be assigned one of those seats because there is a better than average chance that you would not be able to leave on that date, so to reduce attrition and the associated administrative issues, people who are taking steps to become qualified such as losing weight, waiting for a bone to heal, or even waiting to have a tattoo removed, must wait until fully qualified before they can DEP (and must maintain qualifications while in the DEP).

    I hope that makes sense.

  64. HaskellC says:

    That it does, thank you for all your help. I will remain in contact with my recruiter as I have been during this process until such time comes up.

  65. Luis says:

    Hi, I have two sleeve tattoos on my arms. one is my mothers name with a heart on my upper forearm and underneath a portrait of the virgin mary that goes to a little above my wrist. I got it for my mom because of all she’s done for my family. on my other arm i have my baby brothers birthday on my wrist he passed at birth and my dads name Jesus on my upper forearm (which is also my baby brothers name Jesus Jr.) in between is a portrait of jesus christ and on the other side i have my last name Garcia (in old english if it makes a difference) because family is very important to me and im proud of my roots. and on my upper bicep i have a half skull half moms face to represent her connection with my baby brother (living and deceased connection) thank you!!

  66. Luis says:

    well one is actually half a sleeve

  67. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Only because of the size, they will need to be reviewed, but I don’t think you will have a problem being approved based on your descriptions.

  68. Luis says:

    also i have a crown on my ribs for my son ryan which means little king but it is a 5 pointed crown which ive read will cause a problem because its gang related but i am nowhere near gang affiliated nor look the part. if its a problem would i be able to cover it up with say a military helmet or anchor?

  69. NCCM(Ret) says:


    That could very well cause you a problem. Have your recruiter forward a picture for clarification.

  70. Cody says:

    I have a forearm tattoo of a reaper with a sythe to remind the that my time is limited and I need to love my life to it’s very extent. My hand covers it vertically, however horizontally it extends out a bit. Should I have any problems during enlistment or any problems having it waived? Thanks is advance.

  71. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Unless the tattoo has some association with gangs that I am not aware of, you should be okay.

  72. HaskellC says:

    I have another question, I have been going through the process to remove the tattoo that has caused an issue. Though it is not 100% gone can a bit remain if covered by a crew neck shirt?

  73. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If the tattoo’s only issue was location (not content), then I would think, yes, the remainder can still be there. I would do just that and have them resubmit for review before taking off the rest of it.

  74. Lilly. says:

    I have a tattoo in between my hips that say ride baby ride. I grew up riding horses that’s why I got it. Also, I have a tattoo on my right forearm two inches by two inches. Right below the opposite side of the elbow but not in the middle. It is a rose for my mother. Both tats in grey n black shade. I was wondering if the Army or navy would accept me despite my tattoos?

  75. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The rose tattoo should not be an issue — I assume the “Ride Baby Ride” one will require a waiver — your choice of that tattoo’s location may prove to be unfortunate.

  76. nelly says:

    Hi. i was wondering if i would get thru in MEPs for a tattoo on my back of a lion face. it is in the center of my back and i am afraid when i got to MEPs for medical and get DQ during physical when i have to take off my shirt into underwear
    Then i have two stars on my belly that i didnt show to my recruiter because it isn’t visible unless i take my t-shirt off

  77. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The tattoos you describe should not be an issue, but you must describe them to your recruiter about them before you go to MEPS. They need to be detailed on your medical paperwork.

  78. nelly says:

    Thanks. Question #2. After my recruiter document my tattoo on my back and belly. Do the doctors at MEPs look more into my back to processes it more during the exercises? And ask more about it

  79. NCCM(Ret) says:


    All tattoos are looked at to ensure they meet the requirements posted above. No exceptions.

  80. diaz says:

    What about tattoos on my calf will it need a waiver?
    The tattoo is a traditional eagle

  81. NCCM(Ret) says:


    As with all tattoos, it will have to be looked at to ensure it is within regulations and approved, but based on what you wrote, it should not require a waiver.

  82. Shane says:

    My hand is tattooed with the out line of my bones so it just looks like a skeleton hand it stops about 1/2 an inch to my wrist an between my thumb an pointier finger is a spider web it was just space I needed to put something no gang stuff an I have my son an his dog on my forearm if I spread my fingers I can pretty much cover it it’s not big but besides the tattoos I got charged with poss of weed with intent to deliver it was for my own youse and the cop didn’t believe me but the judge did an droped it to a simple poss I don’t even have a traffic ticket that’s the first an last time I’ve ever been in trouble will any of this stop me from joining the navy after the war on coal I don’t have a job no more I was a underground coal miner to me it’s very honorable and if I can’t do it know more I wanna do something honorable like the navy can I still join it’s the only way I can provide for my family

  83. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The police arrest report and court records must be submitted for review to the legal department; the resulting adjudication of simple possession will not matter if the amount of drugs possessed was greater than what is thought to be for experimental use, or if there was any other items noted by the police officer in your possession that would have lead him to believe the intent. If the tattoos meet the standards listed above, you would require a waiver for the hand tattoo (because it is the size of a hand, and more than likely the forearm tat would also be considered because it is borderline in size).

  84. Nick says:

    Im currently in DEP and have a SEAL contract. Last week I got a small cross (no bigger than the length of my thumb on my upper rib/ armpit area). Is there a chance that I may lose my contract ?

  85. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The tattoo should not be a problem; however, it amazes me that a person who went through the entire process to qualify for the SO rating would not ask his recruiter (as you should have been told when you DEPped in — remember the “any change in status brief?) before doing something that may very well have disqualified you. Simply amazing. Good luck.

  86. john says:

    I have a half-sleeve on my left arm of a koi fish and a Japanese Hannibal mask you can see a little bit of it with short sleeves. I also have a cross with wings on my right forearm and the word kampfer on my right wrist. Neither are bigger than my hand. Will the navy accept those?

  87. NCCM(Ret) says:


    You would need a waiver due to the size of the tattoo, but you should be okay based on what you describe.

  88. GM3 [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Master Chief,

    I am an active duty sailor in Norfolk, I wish to receive the GM rating crossed cannons on my right hand between my thumb and forefinger, about 1″ by 1″. I know it’s perfectly fine IAW uniform regs, but my command doesn’t seem to have an amplifying instruction. Should I route a special request chit to play it safe, or should I just go ahead and get it since it complies with the Navy-wide uniform regs?

    GM3 [Last name redacted for privacy]

  89. NCCM(Ret) says:


    You should be okay; but I recommend that you run the chit — that is never a bad idea.

  90. Zachary says:

    Hi I have the Sony play station symbols tattooed on my knuckles (triangle, circle, x, square) and it is already fading to the point where it’s almost gone. It’s just basic outline and not big at all. I’m trying to join the USCG. I met with my recruiter and he said that I would probably need to remove it before I go to basic training in 3 months. Will MEPS allow me to still take my oath as long as I remove it before bootcamp? Will it need to be waivered?

  91. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If you joined with those tattoos — if you are already in the DEP and had them when you joined, then you won’t have a problem, but even if you are not, you would not have a problem joining the Navy with those as you describe them.

  92. Zachary says:

    NCCM (ret)

    I’m joining the coast guard not the navy and no I’m not in DEP. Will MEPS let me swear in as long as I can remove my knuckle tattoo before bootcamp?

  93. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I am not sure how the Coast Guard works, but for the Navy, you would not go to MEPS with a questionable tattoo before the recruiter sent it up for a review. I would think the Coast Guard would do the same. But again, I don’t think your tattoos are out of standard.

  94. Zachary says:

    NCCM (ret)

    Thank you sir.

  95. Derrick [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I recently finished a full sleeve tattoo of polynesian tribal. Will this be a problem for me when joining?

  96. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The tattoo will have to be waived due to its size.

  97. Derrick [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    What does that mean?

  98. NCCM(Ret) says:


    It means that because the tattoo is larger than a hand and it is below the sleeve, it is disqualifying, so it needs a waiver. Pictures will be taken of it and sent to the waiver authority and they will determine whether you can enlist. A waiver is likely provided it does not violate the content or location criteria as stated in the post.

  99. Jay says:

    I’ve got my physical coming next week and I’m starting to worry about my stretched ears. They aren’t big at all, 00g. I’ve taken them out when my recruiter told me they might be a problem. The size has shrunk a considerable amount but I feel it’s not…enough and I wouldn’t want to get reconstructive surgery cause they’re not that big and I don’t have enough money for such a procedure…I’ve heard people pass even though their ears weren’t normal piercing size…should I be worried?

  100. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If the doctor can see through the holes, do not expect to clear medical.

  101. Jay says:

    Oh jeez that’s not good…the only way they can see through the hole is if they grab my ear but if you’re just looking at it than it looks normal…I would be really disappointed if I failed just cause of something like that…

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