Royal Navy: How to join the Royal Navy. Are you eligible? How to find the right role?

There is a simple process to join the Royal Navy, here is how to find out if you’re eligible.
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There are more than 100 different roles in the Royal Navy, and as a result they have put together a tool – the Royal Navy Role Finder – which can help people to find the right role based on their requirements and abilities.

How to join?

To join, you need to check you’re eligible and submit an application form via the Royal Navy website, where you can also find out more about the joining process, preparation, training and choosing the right role for you.

Dauntless arrives back in Portsmouth, December 2012. Picture: Malcolm Wells (123530-1073).Dauntless arrives back in Portsmouth, December 2012. Picture: Malcolm Wells (123530-1073).
Dauntless arrives back in Portsmouth, December 2012. Picture: Malcolm Wells (123530-1073).

Are you eligible?


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You need to be aged 16 or over to join the Royal Navy. 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 the Role Finder.

You can join the Royal Navy if you’re aged 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 beyond, depending on the needs of the Service.

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.


You need to be medically fit to join the Royal Navy. Detailed medical advice can be found on their website, but common conditions that may delay or bar your entry to the Naval Service include:

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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)

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Minimum height of 145cm (151.5cm for Aviators; 157cm for Submariners)

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 is applying from inside their own country must be 18. If a resident of the UK you can apply at 16. You must hold a current in date passport and it is the responsibility of individual applicants to ensure that they 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 (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:

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If you have a criminal record, you may still be able to join the Royal Navy, depending on the offence and type of sentence. 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

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

Any piercings can be removed. Flesh tunnels are a barrier to entry