EDITORS NOTE: After this story was published, Marine officials with Manpower and Reserve Affairs later said there has been no substantial change to the tattoo policy for prior service Marines wishing to join the reserves. A prior service recruiting station out of Londonderry, New Hampshire, posted about a policy change on its official social media account on March 31, 2018. However, the social media post was later deleted and Marine officials said the process for reviewing tattoo waivers was streamlined but substantially unchanged.

Marine Forces Reserve will allow prior service Marines with out of regulation tattoos to join the reserves with various caveats.

Those Marines who have left the service and have at least 12 months remaining in the Individual Ready Reserves and an actual billet at the reserve unit are eligible for the lenient tattoo policy waiver.

As long as the tattoos are “not egregious (face, hands, racist, etc.), we can get Marines back in who otherwise might not have the chance,” Londonderry, New Hampshire, Prior Service Recruiter Staff Sgt. Justin Eckersley told Marine Corps Times Saturday in an email.

The new policy allows prior service Marines to get waivers for out of regulations tattoos at a lower level of approval, according to Eckersley.

Now commanders at prior service recruiting stations “can authorize Pg. 11s for out-of-regs tattoos,” he said. “It basically shifts authorization responsibility down to our level, meaning no extensive waiver process would be required.”

A chart of the Marine Corps' June 2016 updated tattoo policy. (Marine Corps)
A chart of the Marine Corps' June 2016 updated tattoo policy. (Marine Corps)

The new tattoo policy shift may be a result of the Corps’ struggle to recruit prior service Marines.

Marines have long complained of strict tattoo policies that have at times prohibited Marines re-enlisting in the Corps.

Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller updated the tattoo policy in 2016 to allow tattoos to extend further on the upper arms and thighs.

The new policy is currently for prior service Marines wishing to join the reserves. This story is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.