RNTM 01-044-18- Royal Navy Tattoo policy

The Royal Navy has revised their policy on tattoos in the Naval Service. Although this news has been released for some time we have had to re-post.

A considerable number of individuals are ineligible to join both the Royal Navy and Royal Marines due to having tattoos, that are contrary to current policy. Easing the restrictions on tattoos for both potential recruits and serving personnel, whilst maintaining professional standards, is entirely consistent with our overall Diversity and Inclusivity policies as well as reflecting the society that we live in and protect.

In recent years there has been an increasing number of Naval Service personnel with “ineligible” tattoos on visible areas, especially on hands (already allowed in the Royal Marines). In 2014, the British Army relaxed their tattoo regulations considerably; there is no evidence that commanders have found such tattoos to have had an adverse effect on operational effectiveness.

Unacceptable tattoos are now defined as being any tattoo which meets one or more of the criteria listed below2.

a. Visible on a front view passport photograph taken whilst the subject is wearing an open necked polo style shirt with one button undone; that is on the face or throat area, on the front of the ear or forward of a line from the bottom of the ear to the collar bone.

b. Irrespective of its size or position on the body, a tattoo will be obscene if it refers to or depicts an image of:

(i) a sexual act

(ii) extreme pornographic behaviour

(iii) violence of any kind

(iv) drugs

(v) racism

(vi) political views

(vii) sexism

c. Irrespective of its size or position on the body, a tattoo will be offensive if, by its nature it has the purpose or effect of violating another person’s dignity or creating an adverse environment for others (for instance because it refers to or depicts an image relating to a protected characteristic of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability or age). A tattoo should only be considered to have such an effect if, having regard to all the circumstances, it can be viewed as offensive by an objective standard.

d. Any tattoo which does not meet one or more of the criteria above but which, in the opinion of the individual’s Commanding Officer or a recruiting officer, is nevertheless, by virtue of its size, position or nature, unacceptable and detrimental to the Service, for example, a message or inappropriate image on the hand which would be seen when saluting.

An individual with an existing tattoo which is neither offensive nor obscene, but which is in breach of the new policy is to report it to the Chain of Command before 30 Sep 18 so that it can be registered and thus enable to the individual to avoid being subject to disciplinary or administrative action (except in exceptional circumstances).

This policy comes into effect immediately dated 19 Jul 18

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