Coast Guard loosens tattoo restrictions
By JULIA BERGMAN | The Day (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 12, 2017
Reacting to the increasing acceptance and popularity of body art, the Coast Guard has revised its tattoo policy to make it less restrictive.
A Dec. 29 Coast Guard memo details the changes, which are described as "minimal but important."
Neck tattoos are now allowed as long as they are not visible above the collar of the light blue shirt that Coast Guardsmen wear as part of their everyday uniform, known as Tropical Blues.
For tattoos that are near the collarbone, supervisors will have to ensure that no more than 1 inch of the tattoo is visible above the undershirt worn beneath uniforms.
As for the hand, members can have a tattoo "ring" on their finger, excluding the thumb. Only one tattoo is allowed per hand, and the tattoo cannot extend past the knuckle.
Permanent eyeliner makeup, done through cosmetic tattooing, is allowed for women with some exceptions; for example, the eyeliner cannot extend past the outer corner of the eye.
Aside from the aforementioned exceptions, tattoos are not allowed on the head, face (including inside the mouth), neck or hands. Ultraviolet or black light tattoos are allowed, and the same restrictions for regular tattoos apply.
Members who are "unable" or "unwilling" to abide by the policy will be separated from the Coast Guard, the document says.
The updated policy also applies to Coast Guard Academy cadets, according to spokesman David Santos.
Over the years, the various service branches have continued to revise their tattoo policies, often doing so to help widen their pool of potential candidates and to retain current members.
The Air Force recently announced that starting Feb. 1, it is doing away with the rule requiring that tattoos on the chest, back, arms and legs to be less than 25 percent of the exposed body part, known as the 25 percent rule.
Navy sailors, as of late April 2016, can now have a neck tattoo, as long as it isn't longer than 1 inch in any direction. And there is no limit to the size or number of tattoos they can have below the elbow and knee.
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