AR 670-1, Para 3–3. Tattoo, branding, and body mutilation policy Released 25 May 2017
Note. This paragraph is punitive with regard to Soldiers. Violation by Soldiers may
result in adverse administrative action and/or charges under the provisions of the
a. Tattoos and brands are permanent markings that are difficult to reverse (in terms
of financial cost, discomfort, and effectiveness of removal techniques). Before
obtaining either a tattoo or a brand, Soldiers should consider talking to unit leaders
to ensure that they understand the Army tattoo and brand policy. The words tattoo
and brand are interchangeable in regards to this policy.
b. The following types of tattoos or brands are prejudicial to good order and
discipline and are, therefore, prohibited anywhere on a Soldier’s body:
(1) Extremist. Extremist tattoos or brands are those affiliated with, depicting, or
symbolizing extremist philosophies, organizations, or activities. Extremist
philosophies, organizations, and activities are those which advocate racial, gender,
or ethnic hatred or intolerance; advocate, create, or engage in illegal discrimination
based on race, color, gender, ethnicity, religion, or national origin; or advocate
violence or other unlawful means of depriving individual rights under the U.S.
Constitution, and Federal or State law (see AR 600–20).
(2) Indecent. Indecent tattoos or brands are those that are grossly offensive to
modesty, decency, propriety, or professionalism.
(3) Sexist. Sexist tattoos or brands are those that advocate a philosophy that
degrades or demeans a person based on gender.
(4) Racist. Racist tattoos or brands are those that advocate a philosophy that
degrades or demeans a person based on race, ethnicity, or national origin.
c. Tattoos or brands, regardless of subject matter, are prohibited on the head, face
(except for permanent makeup, as provided in paragraph 3–2b(2)), neck (anything
above the t-shirt neckline to include on/inside the eyelids, mouth, and ears), (below
the wrist bone), and hands, except Soldiers may have one ring tattoo on each hand,
below the joint of the bottom segment (portion closest to the palm) of the finger.
Previously documented tattoos on the neck or hands, for which Soldiers have a
tattoo validation memorandum, continue to be grandfathered. Accessing applicants
must adhere to this same policy.
d. Soldiers may not cover tattoos or brands with bandages or make up in order to
comply with the tattoo policy.
e. Commanders will perform an annual check for new tattoos or brands above the
neckline, wrists, and hands. If any unauthorized tattoos are found, the Soldier must
be processed in accordance with paragraph 3–3f. Tattoos on the face or head (to
include on/inside the eyelids, mouth, and ears) were never authorized locations for
tattoos. Soldiers with tattoos on the head or face must be processed in accordance
with paragraph 3–3f,below, unless the Soldier received a written waiver upon entry
into the Army. Commanders will also conduct a simultaneous check for extremist,
indecent, sexist, and racist tattoos. If such tattoos exist, the Soldier must be
processed in accordance with paragraph 3–3f.
f. Commanders will ensure that Soldiers understand the tattoo policy. If a Soldier has
any tattoo or brand that is prohibited under paragraph 3–3b, has any tattoo or brand
that is not authorized (such as a tattoo or brand on the face or head or a tattoo on
the neck or hand that is not grandfathered), or acquires any new tattoo or brand in
violation of paragraph 3–3c, his/her commander will—
(1) Counsel the Soldier in writing. The DA Form 4856 (Developmental Counseling
Form) will state that the Soldier is not in compliance with AR 670–1, paragraph 3–3,
and will explain how the tattoo or brand violates the specific prohibition in the policy
(for example, the tattoo is extremist because it is a known symbol for a specific hate
group; or the new tattoo is in a prohibited location).
(2) Provide the Soldier with no less than a period of 15 calendar days to seek
medical and/or legal advice, fully consider all available options, and respond to the
counseling, in writing, by informing the commander that he/she will appeal the finding
that the tattoo or brand is in violation of policy, pursue medical procedure(s) to have
the tattoo or brand removed (or changed, if applicable), or not have the tattoo or
brand removed (or changed, if applicable).
(a) If the Soldier elects to appeal the finding that the tattoo or brand is in violation
of policy, the commander will forward the matter to the first O–6 commander in the
chain of command for a final determination.
(b) If the Soldier elects to have the tattoo or brand removed, the commander will
counsel the Soldier on a plan for scheduling the medical procedure(s). Soldiers
will receive a reasonable amount of time to schedule the necessary medical
procedure(s) and pay for such procedure (if not available at a military treatment
facility). Commanders must also determine if operational requirements will delay
the medical procedure(s).
(c) If the Soldier declines to have the tattoo or brand removed, the commander will
counsel the Soldier in writing. The DA Form 4856 will state that the Soldier’s refusal
to remove extremist, indecent, sexist, or racist tattoos or brands