The US Air Force (USAF) has amended the existing tattoo policy in order to pave the way for talented and capable members to join the service.

The new policies on dress and appearance are a result of a review conducted by the air force last year.

USAF Secretary Deborah Lee James said: “As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified Airmen as possible we periodically review our accessions policies.

“In this instance, we identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality.

"As a next step in this evolution, we are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms."

The air force has eliminated the 25% tattoo rule, which means service members can now have tattoos completely covering the chest, back, arms and legs.

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However, the prohibition on tattoos, brands or body markings on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and / or scalp remains in place.

Tattoos on hands will be limited to one single-band ring tattoo, on one finger, on one hand.

Airmen who already have authorised hand tattoos under the previous policy will be exempted.

"Service members can now have tattoos completely covering the chest, back, arms and legs."

The new tattoo policy will come into effect on 1 February this year.

A recent review of air force field recruiters revealed almost half of contacts, applicants and recruits had tattoos.

One in every five were found to have tattoos requiring review or that may be considered disqualifying, the USAF said in a statement.

Image: New USAF tattoo policy. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force.