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11 Countries Where Flaunting your Tattoo could get you Deported

Posted by Dan Hunter on 30/10/2016
11 Countries Where Flaunting your Tattoo could get you Deported

Within much of the world in recent years, the majority of tattoos are seen as positive additions to somebody’s personality, with lots of these tattoos successfully telling personal and interesting stories and a person’s life and past.

But unfortunately in some countries, tattoos are still seen as highly offensive and uncivilized. Within these countries, exposing your tattoo in public can result in both arrest and even deportation.

Written below is a selection of countries where some/all tattoos are still very taboo, and where you should be extra cautious about flashing any ink – otherwise your trip may not be a joyous as you’d previously have hoped.

Thailand

Thailand strongly opposes any exposure of religiously-themed tattoos within the country.

The government advises that they believe tattoos with religious themes to cause erosion to the respect of native religions, and that they are culturally inappropriate.

Sri Lanka

Within the last decade, there have been many arrests throughout Sri Lanka due to expats and travellers showing or exposing tattoos that are based around Buddhist beliefs in public.

Sri Lanka as a whole has very strong Buddhist beliefs, and because of this, government officials are very sensitive about the Buddhist religion being defaced – especially when somebody from an outside community is seen displaying body art that marks something extremely symbolic to the country.

Buddha Tattoo
photo credit: binder.donedat via Flickr

Japan

Although Japan is often seen as one of the original tattooing birthplaces, it is surprisingly strict about tattoos which are exposed in public areas.

For many years throughout recent history, tattoos have generally been seen as culturally damaging throughout large areas of the country. Government officials are opposed to tattoos as they perceive them to be generally offensive – especially if they’re somewhat relatable with organized crime gangs within the country.

Many public areas around Japan also ban people from entering them if they wear any kind of tattoo at all, regardless as to whether they’re seen as offensive or not. Public areas where tattoo banning is common include gyms, resorts and public bath houses.

Surveys from the Japanese government tourist board recently found that 56% of inns and hotels within the country actually ban visitors from entering their public bathing areas if they carry in kind of tattoo.

 Xava du Japanese Tattoo
photo credit: xava du via Flickr

Germany, France & Slovakia

All of these countries prohibit anyone from displaying a tattoo which symbolizes, glorifies or otherwise promotes anything related to Nazi culture. Exposing any tattoo seen as relatable to the Nazi uprising can lead to arrest or deportation.

Malaysia

Tattoos are wholly forbidden and generally frowned upon throughout Malaysia for religious reasons – much like Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Government officials in Malaysia have the belief that by getting a tattoo, you are changing the way that god intended you to look, and therefore you’re committing a terrible sin.

Vietnam

The large majority of tattoos within Vietnam are seen in a negative light by the government and by member of the public as they are still viewed as being wholly associated with illegal and criminal activity throughout the region.

If travelling to the country with tattoos regularly on show, you should be aware that you will likely stand out and possibly attract unwanted negative attention from locals.

Owning or operating any sort of tattooing studio/shop is also forbidden within the country. For this reason, if you travel to Vietnam with a tattoo that is brand new, you should ensure that you look after it as best as possible to prevent any kind of potential infection from taking effect as you will have no specialized tattoo studios to visit for help should you need it. 

Turkey

While tattoos are still currently legal in Turkey, top country officials are recently becoming increasingly hostile towards any form of tattooing in general due to religious reasons.

As an example – earlier this year a top religious group in Turkey sent out a request for all Muslims carrying tattoos within the country to repent or have the ink surgically removed.

North Korea

The only tattoos allowed within North Korea are ones either showing praise towards the leader and his family, or one that are designed to promote current political stances within the country.

If it’s found that you have any tattoos that do not conform to the above requirements, then you run the risk of getting deported or getting sent to prison with a of hard labour.

Iran

Iran is another country that has recently become very strict about the public exposure of body art because of cultural and religious reasons.

Government officials have publicly stated in recent times that they believe tattooing to be associated with conforming to Western society, which is highly forbidden within the country.

Not only this, but some Iranians also believe that process of getting tattooed is actually likened to devil worship!

It’s advised to ensure that any tattoos are well covered in public areas if you’re thinking of entering Iran – especially if any of your body art is religion-based.

Summary

While tattoos are generally seen as positive within many countries in recent times, it’s important to remember that some regions around the world still carry the stance that tattoos are uncultured and are a danger to society. 

Therefore, always be cautious when travelling to new places, and always try to do some research about how your body art may be perceived in countries that you’re not yet too familiar with.

About the Author

Dan, a Master of Fine Arts and a participating member of the tattooing community for over 10 years is the resident writer at AuthorityTattoo.

While no longer as active in the tattooing community, Dan still attends many tattoo conventions around the country and is here to help educate, teach and advise readers on all things tattoo related.