US Coast Guard Updates Tattoo Policy to Allow Head, Finger Ink

Photo Credit: US Coast Guard / Twitter

The US Coast Guard has announced revisions to its tattoo policy, saying it will now allow service members and recruits to have visible ink behind their ears and on their fingers. The update is a change to the stipulations that previously limited tattoos in these specific areas.

Graphic showing where US Coast Guard members can get tattoos
US Coast Guard Tattoo Policy, 2019. (Photo Credit: US Coast Guard)

The new regulations allow members to get a tattoo between their first knuckle and fingertip, or on the side or top of the finger, in an area that “may be visible at the position of attention.” The previous guidelines limited crew members to a single finger tattoo per hand, between the first and second knuckle.

Members will now also be allowed to get a single inch-wide tattoo behind one of their ears.

The revisions will be included in an updated version of Tattoo, Body Marking, Body Piercing, and Mutilation Policy, COMDTINST 1000.1D, which will be published in 2022.

US Coast Guard crew member piloting a ship
US Coast Guard senior chief petty officer Louis Coleman. (Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

The Coast Guard has not updated its tattoo policy since 2019, when it broadened the areas in which crew members could get inked. This was done to increase the number of eligible recruits and retain those already enlisted.

“Your senior leadership team is exploring more forward-leaning policy changes to recruit and retain a workforce reflective of the nation we serve, including the existing tattoo policy, removing single parent disqualifiers, and revising outdated weight standards that disproportionately affect women,” Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz said at the time.

The guidelines put in place two years ago also stipulated that chest tattoos, while allowed, could not be visible above the neckline of a crew member’s t-shirt.

Three US Coast Guard crew members with their arms crossed over their chests
Photo Credit: US Coast Guard / Twitter

Other services within the military have since issued similar updates to their policies, in an attempt to address these concerns and attract new recruits.