Marine tattoos are instantly recognizable. Usually, USMC emblems are quite large and bold, both as a tribute to the military and to those who fight for our freedom.
The procedure for getting this tattoo is not to be taken lightly, especially for those who are currently serving in the Marine Corps.
Marine Tattoo History
During the 17th century, when French soldiers were getting tattoos in the South Pacific, a flame was ignited that continues to burn brightly today for those wishing to show their style and show their pride in their country through a Marine tattoo.
The practice of having tattoos stopped in France due to health concerns, but it took hold in the States and remains today. To get a Marine tattoo, one must have the proper paperwork and approval.
In addition to their ancient origin, marine tattoos became the first tattoos to be seen on sailors. A sea tattoo is one that is related to the sea and has a nautical theme (creatures, symbols, traditions). An anchor, a sail, a dragon with fins, ropes, ships, etc., are among the most common tattoos. Roosters and pigs might also be tattooed to the sea according to older beliefs. In ancient times, feet were used for returning to the land as guardians.
The North guiding star is also symbolized by starfish, which are also common.
Tattoo designs that are made for Marines or Marine Corps members cannot be mistaken for other types of tattoos. An individual can recognize the pride symbol at first sight. It’s amazing and audacious to see these USMC tattoos. A tribute to the freedom fighters and as a way to show admiration for them.
These designs cannot be taken lightly. Getting these requires following specific codes and customs. USMC tattoo rules must be followed by all marines currently serving in the military.
If you are a member of the US Military or a patriotic national, you may be seeking to honor your valiant soldiers’ courage. I have provided some information and advice about marine tattoos, their placement, and their types.
Marine Corps Tattoos
Marines are only allowed one ring-like tattoo on their face, head, neck, and hands, and they can only place tattoos on those areas. The removal of the knee-and-elbow tattoo ban signals the return of sleeves for Marines.
Historical Background of Marine Corps Tattoos
Tattooing was introduced to the US military by French soldiers in the 17th century. It was the US military’s officials who introduced tattooing when they saw French soldiers getting tattoos in the South Pacific that inspired them to introduce the art in the United States.
As a result, a lot of soldiers get tattoos as a way to honor and display pride in their country.
The practice of getting inked, however, was stopped by the French due to health reasons. The US, however, continued to embrace the trend. Even the civilians began to get tattoos when it became so trendy.
In addition, people in the military may need to submit paperwork and approve tattoos before they are allowed to get them.
By contrast, there are no restrictions or rules for getting a tattoo for citizens. It is important they understand the meaning of the image when they decide to get one in order to embrace it fully.
Marine corps tattoo policy
All tattoos with nature to bring discredit upon the naval service or detrimental to good order and discipline are prohibited. Those include tattoos related to drugs, gangs, extremism, obscene and indecent images, sexism, and racism, among others.
Having a hidden tattoo is not restricted in any way, but the above rules regarding good order and discipline still apply, even if tattoos are hidden beneath PT uniforms.
It’s recommended to keep visible tattoos to a size that can be covered with your hand (not bigger than Marine’s hand). Cosmetic tattoos that cover up scarring caused by injuries or medical procedures can be granted waivers if they are bigger than a hand.
Ring tattoos on your finger (such as a wedding band tattoo) are permitted as long as they are less than 3/8 of an inch wide.
There is a limit of four tattoos allowed per Marine that are visible outside of the green-on-green uniform. Marines must have tattoos no larger than the flat hand. The Marine Corps allows band tattoos, but the bands themselves must not be wider than the Marines’ extended fingers.
Marines are not allowed to have tattoos on their hands or within two inches of their wrist bones. It is also forbidden to tattoo close to an elbow or knee within two inches.
Half sleeves and full sleeves are not permitted for Marines.
Placements for Marine Corps Tattoos
An important aspect of marine tattoos is the application of the imagery in the right place. The positioning of your tattoo on your body also influences its meaning and symbolism.
While military soldiers can get a tattoo anywhere on their bodies, residents are not restricted from doing so.
A marine tattoo is more suitable for areas that are easy to reveal on the body. A marine tattoo is different from other tattoo designs because it is a symbol of patriotism, loyalty, pride, and honor. People are proud of it for that reason.
The biceps, arms, and legs are the best parts of the body to create a marine image.
Marines usually wear Semper Fi-marine’s official motto on their backs or near their shoulders. Symbols, rank insignia, and phrases are worn on arms and legs. Rarely do people get tattoos as large as a body part?
It’s because to endure the pain of those needles, you must be patient and fearless. In the case of a Marine tattoo, you usually find that it is associated with someone who has military connections or feels pride in their country. Marine tattoo lovers are courageous, noble, and tenacious.
Anchor, Globe, and the Eagle Tattoo
As one of the military’s iconic symbols, an eagle balances on a globe in front of an anchor. A bald eagle first appeared on the Marines’ uniform in 1868, and it was then adopted as the Corps’ emblem in 1955.
Symbolically, the eagle sits on the globe and represents the US’s duty to watch over everything. The anchor represents marine ties to the US Navy. In the military, the enlisted have a gold and silver symbol, while the officers have a silver and gold symbol.
Through these three bold symbols, the Marine Corps shows its commitment to defending the nation no matter what the problem may be. It can be a plane, a ship, or a land vehicle.
The Bulldog or the Devil Tattoo
This is when the Germans began to mock the US military with the term Devil Dogs when bulldogs appeared in the Marine Corps emblem. Instead of insulting the US military force, this nickname became the symbol of US power.
Their lives were in danger, so they had no choice but to run away. Marine Corps members take pride in their bulldogs proudly and victoriously since the idea of recruiting new members proved to be one of the bravest decisions. Until today, it is an insignia that demonstrates America’s invincibility.
Semper Fi is an official motto
In Latin, Semper Fidelis means always faithful. For generations, the US Marine Corps has used this slogan. Symbolically, the term refers to the integrity, brotherhood, patriotism, and unity of the Marine Corps.
Additionally, it symbolizes faithfulness to the country and its loyalty. There are usually ancient English texts in Semper FI, but you can change the font style to suit your preference.
The Sword of the Kings Tattoo
The Marine Corps still uses swords as one of its oldest and sharpest weapons. A Marine uses a saber as part of their uniform. Marines never forget their history with these swords and can never forget what their forefathers did for them.
It is often used for ceremonial purposes since it has a symbolic connection to the ancestors. Among the most revered swords in the world is the Mameluke, which officers have access to. Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon received this as a gift from Prince Hamet in 1805.
Death before Dishonor Tattoo
Honor and duty have always come first to the armed forces. As members of the Marine Corps, loyalty and integrity to the country are paramount. The jingle “Death Before Dishonor” refers to the country’s obligation to be safe and secure. Even if it means you fall, your family and friends are the most important.
The Battlefield Cross Tattoo
As a result of keeping the rifle upside down and having the boots there, it makes the battlefield cross. Soldiers’ graves are marked with this sign. Civil war times in America saw the beginning of this practice. Soldiers should be respected and honored.
Symbolically, it means mourning for fallen soldiers as well as celebrating their lives and services.
Marine tattoo policy
“Our tattoo policy over the years has attempted to balance
the individual desires of Marines with the need to maintain
the disciplined appearance expected of our profession.”
– Gen. Robert B. Neller
37th Commandant, United States Marine Corps
(b) Head or Neck Tattoos
1. Tattoos on the head or neck, including in or
around the mouth area, are prohibited.
2. The head is defined as the portion of the
body above the first cervical vertebrae (C1).
3. The neck is defined as the portion of the
body above the collarbone in the front area, above the seventh
cervical vertebrae (C7) in the back area.
(c) Chest or Back Tattoos
1. Tattoos on the chest or back must be below
the collarbone and seventh cervical vertebrae (C7). Tattoos on
the chest or back must be covered by wearing a properly fitting
crew-neck t-shirt with no portion of the tattoo showing.
2. The crew-neck t-shirt is required to be worn
if a tattoo is visible in the “V” area created by the open
collar of the short sleeve khaki shirt or utility coat (below
(d) Band Tattoos. This policy direction is for
tattoos visible outside the PT uniform, except as otherwise
prohibited or limited above.
1. Officers and enlisted Marines may have band
tattoos that do not exceed three inches or the width of the
individual Marine’s four fingers extended and joined, whichever
2. Measurement will be from the second knuckle
of the index finger to the first knuckle of the pinky finger.
3. If a band tattoo is partially covered by the
PT uniform and partially visible in the PT uniform, the covered
part may be of any size and the visible part must not exceed the
width as indicated above.
4. A band tattoo constitutes a single allowable
Getting a marine tattoo is a good idea. Patriotism and loyalty to his freedom fighters and his nation is an effective way to show your patriotism. Our goal was to inspire you to get a tattoo with this article.
Tattoos should have some meaning to the individual as well. The marine tattoo can be combined with a symbol, phrase, or any other composition that reflects your feelings and your thoughts related to the country. It will also serve as a reminder and make something personal. This tattoo will make you remember what your country has done for you whenever you complain about it.
Marine tattoos aren’t normal tattoos; therefore, make sure you read the rules and regulations before getting one. Before getting a tattoo of marine symbols, understand their significance first.
In addition to learning the latest Marine Corps tattoo policy, it is also important to discover what the tattoo policy is before getting a new tattoo. There may be consequences for getting a new tattoo that violates our policy, such as expulsion from the program.
The Marine Corps is considering major changes to its tattoo policy
The Marine Corps has been enforcing the strictest tattoo policy in the Department of Defense, despite many Marines wanting a more relaxed inking policy.
“We are currently evaluating the tattoo policy and we will publish an update shortly,” Maj. Jim Stenger confirmed to Marine Corps Times in a phone call Tuesday morning.
The marine leader gave a heads up on possible changes coming to Marine Corps policy in an email posted to Reddit, Steiner said. No decisions have been made regarding the tattoo policy, he said.
“That’s all pre decisional and nothing in there has been decided upon by the decision-makers in the process of approving any changes,” he said.
Between June 2015 and June 2016, 33 Marines were denied reenlistment because of their tattoos, Marine Corps Times reported in 2017.
The Corps recently has started focusing on improving retention as it increases investment into training.
Senior leaders may see a young Marine coming to the end of a first enlistment as “just an E-4, you don’t trust him with anything,” Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black said in August at the 2021 Sea Air Space conference at National Harbor, Maryland.
The Marine Corps may soon allow sleeve tattoos, among other ink policy changes.