Eligibility

Whatever your education and qualifications, there are roles for everyone in the Royal Navy. There are some basic eligibility criteria that you’ll need to meet depending on the branch of the Naval Service you’re interested in.  Generally all jobs are open to both men and women. The only exceptions are roles in the Royal Marines, which are only open to men.  Women can join the Royal Marines Band Service though.

To see which jobs you can do with the qualifications you have use the Role Finder. To find out about the general entry requirements, take a look below.

See eligibility criteria per role

General eligibility

Age

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The main age range for joining the Royal Navy is 16 to 36 years old but for some branches, like the Royal Marines, and for some specific job roles it’s slightly different. Visit the When can I join page to see the age requirements for each job in more detail.

If you’re too young to apply for the Royal Navy, don’t worry as you can still challenge yourself by joining the Sea Cadets. You’ll be able to develop new skills like teamwork and leadership while enjoying sailing, boating, rock climbing and more. 

For the Royal Navy you usually have to be:

  • At least 15 years old and 9 months when you apply
  • At least 16 years old on entry
  • Under 37 years old when you begin basic training

For the Royal Marines you usually have to be:

  • At least 15 years old and 9 months when you apply
  • At least 16 years old on entry
  • Under 33 years old when you begin basic training

For the Reserve Forces you usually have to be:

  • At least 15 years old and 9 months when you apply
  • At least 16 years old on entry

The upper age limit for the Royal Naval Reserve depends on the service and your specialisation.

If you still have questions, take a look at the specific age requirements for the jobs you’re interested in using the Role Finder.

 

Fitness standards

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Being in the Royal Navy is physically demanding. This is why to join the ranks you’ll have to be fit enough to successfully perform your duties. So you will need to pass the Pre Joining Fitness Test during the selection testing – and during the first weeks of training as well.

This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill at a fitness centre near you. Below are the times you’ll need to meet according to your age and sex.

Royal Navy Pre Joining Fitness Test

Age

Men

Women

15 - 24 

11 mins 09 secs 

13 mins 10 secs 

25 - 29 

11 mins 33 secs 

13 mins 37 secs 

30 - 34 

11 mins 58 secs 

14 mins 05 secs 

35 - 39 

12 mins 23 secs 

14 mins 33 secs 

 

Royal Navy Diver

If you’re applying to the Diver Branch you’ll have to complete the run in 10 minutes 30 seconds whatever age you are. 

Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserves

The Royal Marines Pre Joining Fitness Test is slightly different. You will have to complete two 2.4km runs (1.5 miles) each with the treadmill set at a 2% incline. To pass you will need to do the first run in under 12 minutes 30 seconds. Then complete the second 2.4km run immediately afterwards in less than 10 minutes – regardless of your age.

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Medical criteria

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To deal with everything that life in the Royal Navy throws at you, you’ll need to be medically fit too. Here, you can find everything you need to know about the standards you need to meet, whether that’s to do with eyesight, pre-existing or temporary medical conditions and even height and weight.

You’ll have your initial medical and eye examination somewhere near you. Your AFCO can arrange this for you.

Height and Weight

For all Naval Service jobs, you will need to be a minimum height of 151.5cm.  The only exception to this rule is the Submarine Service where you will need to be a minimum height of 157cm.  For the Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve there is also a minimum weight requirement of 65kg. You must also be within the healthy range for Body Mass Index (BMI). Read the full medical criteria for further details.

Medical standards

The Royal Navy medical criteria that you will need to meet are thorough. This is because working with us can be very demanding on your body. This is why there are certain pre-existing medical conditions and ongoing illnesses that may prevent you from joining the Royal Navy.

These include everything from respiratory problems such as asthma. To musculoskeletal conditions, such as joint operations or recurrent back pain and heart and cardiovascular disorders, such as high blood pressure. If you have skin disorders, like eczema or active acne that might also be a barrier to entry.

For RFA roles you will need to pass the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) ENG1 medical examination. You must also meet the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s medical standards which may be above those of the ENG1.

Eyesight standards

The minimum standards for uncorrected and corrected vision vary for different branches in the Royal Navy and are determined by Royal Navy medical staff.

Whatever branch you are applying for, with the exception of Chaplain, your spectacle or contact lens correction must not be greater than +/- 6.00 dioptres. For Chaplains the correction must not be greater than +/- 7.00 dioptres.

If you have impaired colour perception (colour blindness) this may restrict the branches that are available to you. 

For the full list of medical criteria, download our Eligibility and Guidance Notes (PDF).

Nationality & residency

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To join the Royal Navy you will need to be a national of Britain, Ireland or the Commonwealth. If you have dual nationality, you can still join. But some roles have stricter requirements than others for security reasons.

If you’re a British national living abroad you can still apply. And if you don’t meet the residency criteria, don’t worry. You might still have the chance to join the Royal Navy on a short term security clearance until you reach the standard period of residency.

National service

If you have dual nationality you will have to provide written evidence that you’re not required for national service either now or in the future.

Commonwealth citizens

If you're a Commonwealth citizen and want to join the Royal Navy as a regular you must have resided in the UK continuously for the previous 5 years, with no single period of absence in excess of 180 days at the point of your application. This residency requirement does not apply to citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus.

If you wish to join the Maritime Reserves, in addition to the 5 year residency requirement, you will need to provide evidence that you’ve been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.

Criminal convictions

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If you’ve been convicted you may still be able to join the Royal Navy. However, if you’ve committed some kinds of offences or served certain types of sentences, you might be permanently barred from entering or re-entering the Royal Navy.

Security and CRB checks

For all branches of the Royal Navy you will need to complete a full Security Check.  This is done online and checks your details against Government data. For this you will have to declare all previous convictions, whether spent or not. Take a look at the MoD Form 493 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 to find out more about.

If you’re applying to the Medical or Dental branch of the Royal Navy there is a statutory requirement to get a suitability check by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). This check discloses your criminal record. If it’s appropriate, you’ll be issued with a Suitability Certificate. Your Armed Forces Careers Office can let you know how and when to get this certificate together with details of jobs that require CRB clearance.

Tattoos & piercings

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Most tattoos or piercings are not a problem when it comes to joining the Royal Navy. If tattoos are offensive, obscene or excessive in size or number though you won’t be allowed in, or back in, to the Royal Navy. 

If your tattoos are visible in parade uniform they won’t be acceptable. This means any tattoos on your head, neck and hands. When you apply to join you’ll need to fill in the form at the link below describing your tattoos and their locations and show them to us during you medical examination.

Tattoo Proforma

 
Piercings

If you have body piercings which cause holes that don’t close up (known as flesh tunnels) you will not be able to join the Royal Navy. If the holes have healed up or are in the process of doing so without leaving a hole, you will be eligible.

For health and safety reasons you will have to remove certain body piercing jewellery before taking part in any physical activity during the application and selection process.

Get fit to join

If you’re thinking of joining the Royal Navy you’ll need to make sure you’re in great shape – and have the strength and stamina to survive, and make the most of, basic training. To help you get ready, we’ve put together a fitness programme which will get you in the zone.

    Find out more

    When can I join?

    You can join most Royal Navy branches from 16, up to your 37th birthday. The age limit for becoming an officer is different – and you must be within it when you enter Britannia Royal Naval College. If you’re too young, we can put you on a waiting list.

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