Am I eligible to be an Officer?

Officers are the managers of the Royal Navy. They lead teams of ratings on operations, make important decisions and take responsibility for their department. It takes hard work, dedication and a sense of adventure to become an officer in the Royal Navy. 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.


Each role has its own eligibility criteria. To be an officer, you need A levels or above and should be aged 18 to 39, dependent on the role you choose. There are three intakes a year (January, May and September), and you must be within this age range at the time you join. If you’re under the age of 18 when you apply, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian.

For most Royal Navy roles, you need to be aged 39 or under. The upper age limits for the Medical branch, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Naval Reserve are higher. To find the age limit for a specific role, use the role finder on the Royal Navy website. 



Sponsorship and bursary opportunities include:

  • Standard Bursary – This is open to those with one or more years left at university who want to join the Royal Navy as an officer in the Logistics, Warfare and Fleet Air Arm branches. The standard bursary is £1,500
  • Technical Bursary – If you want to join the Royal Navy as an Engineer Officer, you can take advantage of this bursary worth £4,000, providing you are studying for an accredited Maths, Physics or Engineering degree
  • Medical and Dental Cadetship – Worth up to £15,379, plus fully funded tuition fees, this scheme is open to students in the final three years of undergraduate study for a Medicine of Dentistry qualification

You can find out more about bursaries and sponsorships here.

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.

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.


You need to be medically fit to deal with everything that life in the Royal Navy throws at you. 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 145cm (151.5cm for Aviators; 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 on a front-view passport (e.g. not on your face, throat area or in front of your ears)
  • Tattoos are not offensive or obscene (see our policy for full details)
  • Any piercings can be removed. Flesh tunnels are a barrier to entry 

Tattoos on your hands are now acceptable if they following the guidelines outlined above and in our tattoo policy. If you have any questions about your tattoos or the policy, please contact a careers adviser

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.


The minimum academic standard for entry as a Royal Navy Officer is 5 GCSEs A-C (9-4) which must include English Language and Mathematics and 72 UCAS points gained from A Levels or equivalents.

These requirements are subject to the following constraints:

  • For A-levels (or equivalents) this total must include at least two non-overlapping subject areas - if you’re not sure about overlapping subject areas, your AFCO can provide you with more information
  • UCAS points derived from non-A levels (or equivalents) must be obtained from a single qualification / Diploma / Certificate unless the constituent points are in non-overlapping subject areas and relevant to the Royal Navy
  • Some Officer roles require bachelor’s degree level qualifications as indicated at the role finder
  • Engineer and Medical Officer roles have different GCSE and UCAS requirement as indicated at the role finder

You can use the role finder to see if your chosen role requires you to have a specific vocational degree.


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.