If you are wondering how to join the RAF, you will need to meet certain criteria which fall into the following categories:
Nationality & Residency
Some criteria apply to everyone joining the RAF; others only apply to specific roles.
RAF Nationality and Residency Requirements
RAF Nationality Requirements
To meet RAF nationality requirements, you need to be one of the following:
- British citizen
- British national
- British/Dual national
- Commonwealth citizen
- Irish Republic national
RAF Residency Requirements
To meet RAF residency requirements, you should have been a UK Resident for a minimum of five years immediately preceding application and have spent no more than 28 days per year outside the UK within those five years.
UK residents of less than five years, or those who have spent more than 28 days per year outside the UK will require more eligibility checks.
However, candidates with a minimum of 3 years will also be considered.
RAF Age Requirements
Age requirements vary depending on which role you choose. The youngest age for applying is 15 years and nine months for an Airman. The oldest is 55 years for a Medical Officer and 47 for a non-medical recruit.
If you are under 18 years of age, you will need consent from a parent or guardian before you apply.
RAF Educational Requirements
Different roles have different educational requirements in the RAF.
Some roles require minimal qualifications, others require specialist skills and/or a degree.
The minimum requirements are GCSEs at Grades 1 to 4, or equivalent, in Mathematics, English language or SCE Standard Grade 3/Scottish National 5 in Mathematics & English.
RAF Fitness Requirements
All applicants to the RAF must be fit to complete initial and specialist training and perform their roles effectively. To assess fitness, every candidate undergoes two or three separate fitness tests as part of the application process:
- Selection Fitness Test
- Pre-joining Fitness Test or
- Pre-recruit Training Course
The Pre-Joining Fitness Test requires candidates to meet a high standard of strength and endurance.
RAF Health Requirements
There are health requirements that must be met by all applicants:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) test
- Eyesight requirements vary for different roles.
The Recruitment Medical Risk Assessment
The Armed Forces require anyone who joins to be medically fit to serve worldwide. New entrants to the Armed Forces undergo intensive training that is physically demanding and mentally taxing. The RAF executive has a duty to ensure that each recruit is in good health before they undergo military training.
Basic recruit training takes place over 10 weeks at RAF Halton for Airmen entrants or 24 weeks at RAF Cranwell for Officer entrants. You can purchase all your essential kit for RAF training at Supply Drop at heavily discounted prices.
The Medical Risk Assessment that all candidates undergo is intended to ensure that you satisfy the tri-Service medical entry criteria. Your application will be rejected if you fail to meet the minimum acceptable medical standard for entry. Your medical history is confidential and is not disclosed to those not authorised to hold this information.
RAF Background Checks
All RAF applicants are required to:
- Declare any previous unspent convictions
- Check eligibility under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
- Undergo a basic background check to obtain Security Check level clearance
Some roles also require applicants to declare spent convictions and obtain additional clearance.
RAF Disqualifying Factors
The following are not permitted in the RAF:
- Extreme political affiliations to groups that stir up racial hatred and violence
- Offensive tattoos or adornments. Tattoos must not be visible above the neck collar or below the sleeve cuff while wearing uniform
- Substance abuse such as drugs, solvents, and anabolic steroids
- Pending court appearances
- Spent or unspent convictions may be excluded from certain roles
- Body piercing which causes holes that do not close up
- Candidates who declare themselves to be an ‘undischarged’