US Coast Guard Tattoo Policy

What Tattoos You Can and Cannot Have to Join

Interested in joining the Coast Guard or Becoming an Officer?

Most branches of the military have similar policies for the number, type, and location of tattoos that are allowed on those who are currently serving or who wish to join. However, there are some minor differences. 


Here are the Coast Guard tattoo rules and regulations

US Coast Guard Tattoo Policy


Previous US Coast Guard Tattoo Policy

Prior to the regulation changes in 2017, those in the Coast Guard could not have tattoos that were visible when they were in uniform. Coast Guard members also could not have a tattoo that covered more than 25% of the body part it was on.


New US Coast Guard Tattoo Policy


The policy for the content of Coast Guard tattoos has remained the same, with most of the restrictions centered on racist, vulgar, or gang tattoos. The most recent Coast Guard tattoo policy that we could find can be accessed HERE. Otherwise, the following information should be enough to answer your questions regarding Coast Guard tattoos.

Do you have a tattoo that needs to be removed?


Neck and Chest Tattoos

While the prohibition on visible tattoos no longer applies, there are still some restrictions for tattoos on the neck and chest. Tattoos on the chest cannot be visible more than one inch above the v-neck undershirt that is worn under the Tropical Blue uniform shirt. This means that Coast Guard tattoo regulations completely prohibit neck tattoos, and very large tattoos on the upper chest may also be prohibited.

Hand Tattoos

Coast guard tattoos can involve hand tattooing but must be limited to one ring tattoo per hand, and this tattoo cannot extend past the first knuckle on the finger. No other tattoos or brands below the wrist are allowed. Under current Coast Guard tattoo policy for officers, sleeves are allowed.


Blacklight and UV Tattoos and Brands

Coast Guard tattoo policy allows blacklight and UV tattoos, but they must follow the same regulations as all other tattoos. Brands are allowed as well, but they must not be larger than 4 inches by 4 inches and cannot be on the hand, face, neck, or head.


Tattoo Content

What the tattoo means

Coast Guard tattoos cannot portray any content that is considered racist, discriminatory, indecent, extremist, or supremacist and must not involve violence, sexually explicit material, or promote lawlessness no matter where they are on the body. This includes tattoos that feature fully exposed nudity, tattoos of hate groups such as Neo-Nazis, skinheads, terrorist groups, or outlaw gangs, Confederate flags, graphic violence, the glorification of drug culture, or anti-government. Determining whether a tattoo falls into these categories can be subjective, and it’s ultimately up to the Coast Guard administration to decide whether a tattoo adheres to USCG tattoo regulations.


Location on the Body

Coast guard tattoo policy for officers does not allow for any type of tattoo or brand on the hands, neck, face, or head except for the single ring tattoos discussed earlier. For the back and sides of the neck, the dark blue Coast Guard t-shirt collar is the reference point in determining whether a tattoo or brand is visible past one inch above the collar. No brands or tattoos are allowed below the wrist bone.

Laser Tattoo Removal for Coast Guard FAQ

Naturally, if you plan to join the Coast Guard, you should avoid getting any of the tattoos or brands prohibited under Coast Guard tattoo policy. But what are your options if you already have one of these tattoos? Does it mean you can’t get into the Coast Guard? Fortunately, laser tattoo removal can provide a solution.

What is laser tattoo removal?


Laser tattoo removal uses powerful lasers to break up ink particles under the skin surface. Once the ink is broken up into small enough particles, the skin safely flushes them out of the lymphatic system. Unlike creams or surface abrasion, laser tattoo removal targets the ink where it resides in the lower levels of the skin to remove them safely and effectively so you can adhere to coast guard tattoo rules.

How long does tattoo removal take?


Getting your Coast Guard tattoos removed is not a quick process. Depending on the size, location, and colors used in your tattoo, it can take anywhere from four to ten sessions spaced six to eight weeks apart. This allows for the skin to heal between sessions and prevents excess skin fatigue and scarring. If you have a prohibited tattoo according to Coast Guard tattoo regulations and want to join, you should begin your sessions as soon as possible.


How much does tattoo removal normally cost?


To remove a prohibited tattoo and adhere to the Coast Guard tattoo policy for officers, you will spend anywhere from $100 to $500 per treatment. The cost of treatment and number of treatments depends on the size, location, and colors used on your tattoo as well as how old it is and how deeply the ink penetrated the skin. At The Finery, we give you an estimate during your consultation for how much your removal will cost, and you will pay this flat fee no matter how many sessions it takes.

Getting Your Tattoos Removed for the Coast Guard 

Want to join the Coast Guard but have a tattoo that is in violation of their rules and regulations? At the Finery, we want to help. We offer 10% off tattoo removal for all active and enlisting military personnel, and we always guarantee the cost of your tattoo removal during your consultation.

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