Am I eligible to be a Rating?

Joining the Royal Navy isn’t for everyone. As a rating, you’ve got to have determination and a real sense of adventure. Before you can start the application process, you need to fulfil the eligibility criteria below. If you can do that, you can begin your Royal Navy journey. All roles within the Royal Navy are open to both men and women.

Age

The age range for joining the Royal Navy is 16 to 36, although that may vary for certain roles across the different branches. If you're under the age of 18, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian.  You can find out the age requirements for each job by using our Role Finder.

For the Royal Navy you have to be:

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

If you’re too young to apply, you can join the Sea Cadets. This is a great way to develop your leadership and teamwork skills, while gaining a valuable insight into life in the Royal Navy. You can find out more here.

Please note, if you are seeking re-entry to the Naval Service, you may receive a waiver if you are outside these age requirements. To find out more, call 0345 607 5555.

Medical

You need to be medically fit to deal with everything that life in the Royal Navy throws at you. Detailed medical advice can be found here, but common conditions that may delay or bar your entry to the Naval Service include:

  • Asthma within the last four years (not including a single chest infection)
  • 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. There may be some exceptions to the upper BMI rate if your waist measures less than 94cm (This NHS calculator will help you determine your BMI)
  • Minimum height of 151.5cm (157cm for Submariners)

If you are concerned about your medical eligibility, please click here for more detailed medical advice. If your condition is not fully explained, speak to your Careers Adviser who can contact the Naval Service Medical Team. You don’t have to discuss the problem directly with the Careers Adviser, they can pass your contact details to the Medical Team to ensure complete privacy.

Nationality and residency

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 has lived in the UK continuously for the 5 years prior to applying, with no period of absence over 180 days (this does not apply to citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus)
  • A dual Commonwealth or British national who is not required to complete national service (written evidence is required)
  • A British national living abroad

Criminal convictions

If you have a previous criminal conviction, you may still be able to join. However, if you’ve committed certain offences or served specific types of sentence, you might be permanently barred from entering or re-entering the Royal Navy.

You will be required to:

  • Complete a full Security Check
  • Declare all previous convictions, both spent and unspent
  • Undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if you're applying to the medical branch, gaining a suitability certificate where appropriate

You can get more information on our site by reading the PDF here. Alternatively you can get further details from your local Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO) or by calling 0345 607 5555.

Tattoos and piercings

Most tattoos and piercings won’t prevent you from joining the Royal Navy, providing:

  • Tattoos are not visible (i.e. not on your hands, neck or head)
  • Tattoos are not offensive or obscene
  • Any piercings can be removed. Flesh tunnels are a barrier to entry 

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 jewellery before taking part in any physical activity.

SEE THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR YOUR ROLE

Eligibility criteria can vary slightly from role to role. To see the requirements for a particular job, and to find out what you can do with the qualifications you have, visit our Role Finder.

ROLE FINDER