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Navy Tattoo, and Body Art Policy
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Note: This policy was released in NAVADMIN 021-03, dated January 2003:

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) approved significant revisions to the Navy personal appearance policy. These changes are effective immediately and will be reflected in the next change to uniform regulations. The revisions include:

A. Establishment of a tattoo policy for Navy personnel.

B. Clarification of personal appearance policy with regard to intentional mutilation of body parts.

C. Clarification of personal appearance policy with regard to dental ornamentation.

Navy grooming and personal appearance policy is intended to ensure that navy personnel set and maintain the highest standards of professional appearance in uniform. Due to the increasing popularity of body art and ornamentation, Navy policy is being revised to provide clearly defined guidance.

For clarification purposes, revisions and additions to navy uniform regulations, article 2201 are quoted below in their entirety. (r) indicates revision. (a) indicates addition.

(r) Personal appearance. Because it is impossible to provide examples of every appropriate or unacceptable hairstyle or of "conservative" or "eccentric" grooming and personal appearance, the good judgement of leaders at all levels is key to enforcement of Navy grooming policy. Therefore, hair/grooming/personal appearance while in uniform shall present a neat, professional appearance.

(a) Tattoos/body art/brands. No tattoos/body art/brands on the head, face, neck, or scalp. Tattoos/body art/brands elsewhere on the body that are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Navy are prohibited. For example, tattoos/body art/brands that are excessive, obscene, sexually explicit or advocate or symbolize sex, gender, racial, religious, ethnic or national origin discrimination are prohibited. In addition, tattoos/body art/brands that advocate or symbolize gang affiliation, supremacist or extremist groups, or drug use are prohibited. Tattoos/body art/brands will not be visible through uniform clothing. Waivers may be requested for prior service and existing tattoos from the Chief of Naval Operations.

(a) Mutilation. Intentional body mutilation, piercing, branding/intentional scarring that are excessive or eccentric are prohibited. Some examples are:

(1) a split or forked tongue;

(2) foreign objects inserted under the skin to create a design or pattern;

(3) enlarged or stretched out holes in the ears (other than a normal piercing).

(4) intentional scarring that appears on the neck, face, or scalp. Waivers may be requested for prior service and existing body mutilation, piercing, branding/intentional scarring from the Chief of Naval Operations.

(a) Dental ornamentation. The use of gold, platinum or other veneers or caps for purposes of ornamentation are prohibited. Teeth, whether natural, capped or veneer, will not be ornamented with designs, jewels, initials, etc. Waivers may be requested for prior service and existing dental ornamentation from the chief of naval operations (n09bu)."

The above policy guidance will also be included in the civilian clothing policy, article 7101.

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