What to consider when you’re Enlisting

If you’re considering serving in the Australian Defence Force, you might want to consider more than just your uniform before you sign up. While tattoos are becoming more and more a part of everyday life for young Australians, it might be in your interest to familiarise yourself with service guidelines.
All branches of the defence force maintain strict guidelines concerning tattoos and body art for its members to maintain the high standard to which they hold themselves which while similar in many regards are not identical.

Defence Force rules and regulations

Defence force tattoosIf you’re thinking of joining the army, keep in mind that any tattoos that are visible on your hands, face, scalp, ears and neck are prohibited.

For those planning on enlisting in the navy, while tattoos on your hands are permitted, the same restrictions concerning the face, scalp, ears and neck still apply.

In contrast, the air force while prohibiting facial tattoos is far more lenient in allowing tattoos on the scalp, neck and ears.

Female candidates applying for any of these branches should know that eyebrow tattoos are permitted if they follow the natural arch of the eye line and is a colour that matches their hair.

Furthermore lip tattooing to enhance the outline of the lips is permitted as long as it is not outlined in black, a non-flesh colour and does not change the natural shape of the lips.

Offensive and disrespectful tattoos:

Another issue you need to consider is the fact that even if your tattoo is not restricted by these guidelines, could it be seen as offensive or undermine the integrity of the armed forces? The strict standard maintained by the defence force means prospective candidates can be turned away if they fail to meet these standards.


It’s not just the Defence Force who maintains a strict set of guidelines for potential recruits seeking to join. The New South Wales Police Force maintains a strict code of conduct for potential recruits looking at a career in law enforcement.

With the exception of cultural or religious practices which must be cleared with the Police Force, tattoos on the face, scalp, ears, neck and hands are strictly prohibited. Much like the Defence Force while concealed tattoos are allowed for serving officers any tattoos considered offensive or holding affiliation with criminal groups or to be seen to advocate criminal activity are prohibited.

Similar forms of this code of conduct can be found within Australia’s other state and territory Police Forces in order to maintain the integrity of both their officers and the organisation.



are your tattoos getting in the way of your defence force jobBeing forewarned about the strict guidelines on tattoos required for serving in either our nation’s Defence or Police Force could be the critical factor during the enlistment process.

Having tattoos that fall outside these guidelines could be the only thing preventing you from pursuing a long and rewarding career of service.

If you have any tattoos that fail to meet Defence Force or Police guidelines or feel that they could be considered offensive or disparage the integrity of both organisations you might need to consider parting with your tattoos.


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Further details concerning tattoos and body art for the Australian Defence Force click here and NSW Police Forces’s policies click here 

For further information on the tattoo removal process click here.