To join the Royal Navy, you will need to meet different criteria for:

  • Age
  • Nationality and Residency
  • Education
  • Drug and Substance Misuse
  • Financial Requirements
  • Criminal Convictions
  • Tattoos
  • Fitness and Health

Some criteria apply to everyone joining the Royal Navy, others only apply to specific roles such as certain career paths are only available to British citizens.

There are a lot a of different careers available in the Royal Navy, you can find the list here, each one offering the chance to develop skills that you can use in the Navy, and after you return to civilian life

Each role has its own specific entry, qualification and eligibility criteria, depending on its discipline and skillset.

Royal Navy Age Requirements

You can join the Royal Navy if you are aged from 16 to 39, dependent on the role you choose. The shortest Royal Navy career is four years, but you can choose to serve up to 22 years and longer. If you are below the age of 18 when you apply to join the Royal Navy, then you will need the consent of your parents or guardians.

Note, some roles have specific age requirements.

It is also possible to re-join the Royal Navy, where the age requirements may be waived.

Royal Navy Nationality and Residency Requirements

Some roles have stricter nationality and residency requirements than others for security reasons, but in general you can join the Royal Navy if you are:

  • A national of the United Kingdom or Ireland
  • A Commonwealth citizen who is applying from inside their own country must be 18. If a resident of the UK you can apply at 16.
  • Hold a current passport or have permission to be in the UK and this permission is valid for the entirety of the recruitment process up to the point of entry
  • A dual Commonwealth or British national who is not required to complete their own national service
  • A British national living abroad

Royal Navy Academic Requirements

For many jobs, there are no formal entry qualifications, however, the more qualifications that you possess then the wider options that you have in the Royal Navy.

To apply to become an Officer 72 UCAS points are required (based on the recognized UCAS Tariff and 5 GCSEs (A*-C) or Scottish Standard grades or equivalent, which must include English and Mathematics).

For direct graduate entry as an officer, you will need a degree or equivalent.

Royal Navy Drug and Substance Misuse

If you have misused drugs or substances yourself in the past, then this will not necessarily disqualify you from joining the Royal Navy.

If you have taken illegal drugs, acceptance into the Navy will depend on the frequency of use and the class and type of drug or substance that has been misused.

Criminal convictions for trafficking or supply of any class of drug or substance will bar entry in all cases.

Royal Navy Financial Requirements

You may be ineligible to join the Armed Forces if you have financial commitments, debts or loans that you would have difficulty in repaying or lead to financial hardship if you entered the services.

Royal Navy Criminal Convictions

If you have been convicted of an offence, then you may still be accepted into the Royal Navy. All applicants must declare any unspent any previous unspent convictions as part of the application process.

You will be required to complete a full Security Check to join the Royal Navy, and if you are applying to the medical branch you will have to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Royal Navy Tattoo Policy

The Royal Navy have a tattoo policy. Most tattoos and piercings will not prevent you from joining the Royal Navy, providing that:

  • Your tattoos are not visible on a front-view passport (not on your face, throat area or in front of your ears)
  • Your tattoos are not offensive or obscene
  • All piercings can be removed

You will need to fill in a form describing your tattoos and must also show them during the selection process. You will also be required to remove certain body jewelry before taking part in any physical activity.

Royal Navy Fitness Requirements

Fitness is a vital part of being the Royal Navy, especially if an emergency happens. There a series of fitness tests that must be passed, which are detailed in this article

Some common conditions that may delay or bar your entry to the Naval Service include:

  • Asthma within the last four years
  • A break or joint strain that caused you to seek medical help
  • Any medical condition that requires regular prescription medication or review by your GP
  • If your BMI exceeds 28 or is under 18
  • Minimum height of 151.5cm (157cm for Submariners)

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