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Application process

To start with you must attend an initial interview or presentation. Then you must pass several tests and interviews.

These include:

  • Recruitment test
  • Medical and eye test
  • Pre joining fitness test
  • Pre Royal Navy Course
  • Security and Reference Check

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


You must:

Be able to swim a minimum of 50m in under 4 minutes…without touching the bottom of the pool.

Can you swim 50 metres in under four minutes wearing a swimming costume without touching the bottom or sides of the pool? Then exit the pool unaided and without using steps?

Select an option below:

Tests and interviews you must pass



To join as you must be:

  • At least 20 years old when you apply
  • At least 21 years old on entry
  • Under 37 years old when you begin basic training

If you’re too young to apply, you can get a taste of the Royal Navy life by joining the Sea Cadets.



To join you need to have British, Irish, Commonwealth or British dual nationality.  If you’re a Commonwealth citizen you must have continuously resided in the UK for the last 5 years with no single period of absence in excess of 180 days. However, this residency requirement does not apply to citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus.

Criminal convictions


If you’ve been convicted you may still be able to join. Certain kinds of offences or serving certain types of sentences, might however permanently prevent you 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. You will have to declare all previous convictions, whether spent or not. To find out more, take a look at the MoD Form 493 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Tattoos and piercings


Most tattoos or piercings are not a problem but if they’re offensive, obscene or excessive in size or number you won’t be allowed into the Royal Navy. 

If your tattoos are visible in parade uniform you won’t be able to join. This means any tattoos on your head, neck and hands.

When you apply to join you’ll need to fill in a form describing your tattoos and their locations and show them to us during you medical examination.


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.

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