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Beard and Haircut Laws by Country 2024

Many countries regulate cosmetic services like beards and haircuts for health and safety, but only a few have specific laws regarding styles. Countries with laws on beard and haircut styles include India, Iran, North Korea, Tajikistan and Thailand.


The most significant laws on beard and hairstyles in India deal with male Sikhs, whose religion specifically requires them to wear full beards. Members of armed, law enforcement and paramilitary services in India are all allowed to do so, although they may have restrictions on length and style. The Supreme Court of India also ruled in 2003 that Muslims in uniform can have beards.

Men in the Indian Army and Air Force who aren’t Muslims or Sikhs generally can’t wear beards. Army personnel may be exempt from this requirement, depending on their deployment and other circumstances that make it impractical to shave. In the Navy, personnel are only subject to the requirements of their commanding officer. Special forces units also make exceptions for non-Muslims and non-Sikhs regarding beards.


The Iranian government prohibits certain hairstyles to preserve their native culture and fight imperialism. Banned hairstyles primarily those associated with Western countries, such as mullets, ponytails and spikes.

North Korea

Dr. Katharine H.S. Moon, Chair of Asian Studies at Wellesley College, visited Pyongyang in 2013. She reports that she saw a variety of hairstyles on members of both genders, including the use of hair dye. However, Radio Free Asia reported in 2014 that the government of North Korea had published a list of recommended hairstyles, 10 for men and 18 for women. Furthermore, some colleges were recommending that men style their hair like Kim Jong-un.


The government of Tajikistan discourages most men from growing beards in an effort to fight radicalism. However, it doesn’t specifically prohibit beards, although men must be clean-shaven to apply for passports. In addition, police officers often shave off beards by force.


Male personnel in military and law enforcement agencies must wear a hairstyle known as a “904 cut” as of 2017. This hairstyle consists of completely shaving the back and sides of the head, with only a small amount of hair on top. Females must keep hair that’s shoulder-length or longer in a tight bun, with a black, navy blue or brown ribbon. School dress codes require crew cuts for boys and hair no longer than earlobe level for girls. Teachers often cut the hair of students they deem to be in violation of the dress code.

  • During Enver Hoxha's rule (1944-1985), Communist Albania was labeled one of the most repressive countries in Eastern Europe

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Beard and Haircut Laws
AlbaniaDuring the Enver Hoxha regime, men were forbidded to have beards or hair over 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) long. Men with prohibited hairstyles cannot enter the country.
ChinaZhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Han Chinese Ming Dynasty, passed the Law on Compulsory Hairstyles on September 24, 1392, requiring all men to adopt the queue, or cue hairstyle, in which the front portion of the scalp was shaved but the hair from roughly the ears back was never cut, and was often braided. Wearng a different hairstyle was punishable by castration of the barber, the customer, and their sons, and their families were to be exiled to the border. | After the fall of the Qing dynasty in the 1910s and the takeover of the Republic of China, all Chinese men abandoned the cue hairstyle and opted for a short Western style hairstyle.
Czech RepublicFollowing the Prague Spring of 1968, Western 1960s counterculture inspired the Mánička subculture amongst Czechoslovak youth. The long hairstyles associated with this movement were discouraged and suppressed by the authorities, who saw long hair as a subversive Western cultural influence.
India In December 2003, the Supreme Court of India ruled that uniformed Muslims are allowed to grow beards. Non-Muslims and non-Sikhs serving in the Indian Army or Indian Air Force are not allowed to grow beards.
IranThe Iranian government has banned men's "Western hairstyles," including ponytails, mullets, and spikes, as part of a stated attempt to protect the country's culture and combat cultural imperialism.
JapanDuring Japan's Edo period (1603-1867), the Tokugawa shogunate ordered Japanese men to shave the putty on the front of their heads (chonmage hairstyle) and shave their beards, beards, and armpits. | In 1871, the 4th year of the Meiji era, Emperor Meiji issued an edict to abolish Chonmage. | A decree issued as part of the Meiji Restoration forced all Japanese men to cut off their topknot, change to short Western-style hairstyles, and wear Western-style clothing. | Sumo wrestlers are allowed to continue chonmage to the present day.
North KoreaDisputed. Radio Free Asia reported in 2014 that the North Korean government had a recommended list of 18 hair styles for women and 10 hair styles for men, and that some colleges had recommended male students model their hair after Kim Jong-un. However, Dr. Katharine H.S. Moon, Wasserman Chair of Asian Studies at Wellesley College, refutes these claims, stating that, "There's no evidence that their hairstyles must follow totalitarian regulation," and that she had personally witnessed a wide variety of hair styles, including dyed hair, while visiting.
RussiaPeter the Great imposed a beard tax in 1698 to encourage Russian men to shave, as part of the modernization and westernization of Imperial Russia. Men who kept their beards on and refused to pay taxes were forcibly shaved.
SingaporeIn the past, Singapore had banned long hair for men nationwide in an effort to slow the growth of the hippie subculture. However, the law has changed and now men are allowed to wear any hairstyle.
South KoreaIn 1973, South Korea under Park Chung-hee introduced a misdemeanor law limiting the length of men's hair and mandating a minimum skirt length for women. There was no specific definition of acceptable hair length, and violators were often taken to police stations and had their hair cut against their will.
TajikistanMost men in Tajikistan are encouraged by the government to grow beards in an effort to combat radicalism. Only clean-shaven men can apply for passports. Beards are often forcibly shaved by police officers.
ThailandAs of 2017, Thai male police and military personnel are required to wear a hairstyle known as the "904 cut." This style involves shaving the sides and back of the head, leaving only a little hair on the crown. For female police officers and female soldiers, if the hair is long (shoulder length), the hair must be tied up and the ribbon and net color (black, dark brown, navy blue) must be properly arranged. Thai school dress code requires earlobe-length bobs for girls and an army-style crew cut for boys. It is not uncommon for teachers to cut the hair of students who are often deemed to be violating arbitrary rules.
VietnamWhen the Han Chinese ruled over the Vietnamese in the Fourth Rule of China, the Vietnamese were ordered by Ming officials to stop cutting their hair and change into Han Chinese clothes. In 1474, Vietnam issued an edict banning Vietnamese from adopting foreign languages, hairstyles, and clothing such as those of the Laotian, Champa, and Ming 'northerns'. This decree is recorded in the 1479 Dai Bet Complete Chronicle of Ngo Shi Lien of the Later Le Dynasty.

Which countries have haircut laws?

Bead and haircut laws vary by country. Currently, India, Iran, North Korea, Tajikistan, and Thailand have specific laws for mandatory hairband facial styles and lengths.

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