Foreign Legion Tattoos and Tattoo Policy

French Foreign Legion and the tattoo. Are legionnaires tattooed? Are you allowed to have tattoos when you are joining the French Foreign Legion? What is the French Foreign Legion’s tattoo policy?

Tattoos are a long tradition within the Foreign Legion. In France, around 1900, only legionnaires, French soldiers from BILA African battalions (nicknamed the Bat’d’Af), mariners, and prisoners were well-known for being tattooed. So, there is no problem with you having a tattoo if you want to become a legionnaire. But, as always, some tattoo rules can disqualify you from joining the Foreign Legion.

French Foreign Legion old tattoo
Reveil de Venus (Venus Rising). A tattooed French-born legionnaire from around 1900.

 

French Foreign Legion Tattoo Policy

As with everywhere else, certain rules apply for tattoos in the Foreign Legion, especially for new candidates/volunteers willing to join. It’s important to remember that as a legionnaire, you will represent the Foreign Legion during your years of service. You will very often parade in a shirt with short sleeves or serve in a short-sleeved t-shirt. Thus, your tattoo will be publicly visible. That’s why the Legion had to apply some rules for tattoos.

So, if you have a tattoo, it is better to look at it and ask yourself, “Will my tattoo(s) harm the Legion in public?” If your answer is NO, then you can try to join.

However, because we live in the 21st century and the Legion is subordinate to political leadership, politically motivated rules for tattoos have also been applied in the last decades, alongside rules for vulgar or stupid tattoos.

 

Banned or inappropriate tattoos for enlistment in the Foreign Legion

  1. Nazi and racist tattoo (e.g Nazi-swastika, A. Hitler, Ku-Klux-Klan etc.)
  2. Stupid tattoo on your face/arms, even if it seems to be small
    (if you have a little drop near your eye, you can try to join; if you have a vagina tattoo between your eyes, or a penis tatoo on your arm, stay at home)
  3. A larger tattoo across your face (a genuine tribal tattoo is allowed in some cases)

 
Over the years, tattoos have become a common part of the Legion’s history and part of its public image. Therefore, you will notice many tattoo types among the Legion. So, don’t be afraid if you think about joining the French Foreign Legion, and have already been tattooed.

French Foreign Legion legionnaire - old tattoo 1949
A legionnaire in Algeria in 1949. In the old days, the tattoo was predominately a symbol of French-born legionnaires (like this one in the image). Foreigners with rich tattoos were rare in the Legion.

 

French Foreign Legion Tattoos

Here are some good examples of tattooed legionnaires from the modern period. The pictures were taken in the 2010s.

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattooE.Martin images source: Behance 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo 

French Foreign Legion tattoo
A legionnaire (NCO) from 2e REP (2012)
A former legionnaire Victor Ferreira photographed legionnaires and their tattoos for two years

Photos credit (besides that already defined): Légion étrangère

 

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Related information:
French Foreign Legion minimum age and maximum age requirements
French Foreign Legion height and weight requirements
French Foreign Legion vision requirements

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The page was updated on: August 28, 2021

 

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