In this article you will find out how to join the Royal Navy as a Rating in terms of eligibility, preparing for tests and getting ready for your career in the Royal Navy.

The exact requirements vary from role to role and all roles within the Royal Navy are open to both men and women.

How To Join The Royal Navy

The Royal Navy eligibility criteria can be broken down into the following categories.

  • Age

  • Health

  • Fitness

  • Nationality and Residency

  • Criminal Convictions

  • Tattoos and Piercings

Royal Navy Age Requirements

You need to be aged 16 up to 39 to join the Royal Navy. If you are under the age of 18, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian. There are different age requirements for each roll.  You can find out the age requirements for each job here (link to

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.

Royal Navy Health Requirements

Each Royal Navy role has its own joining process, which includes a series of assessments, which include multiple choice exams and a medical.

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
  • Minimum height of 151.5cm (157cm for Submariners)

Royal Navy Fitness Requirements

To prove your fitness to serve in the Royal Navy there are three stages that you must complete:

  • Pre-joining Fitness Test (PJFT) – The PJFT is conducted on a treadmill, where you will be required to run 2.4km in a time specific to your gender and age group.
  • Pre Royal Navy Course (PRNC) – The (PRNC) is a four-day course that all Rating candidates must attend before Basic Training and takes place at either HMS Collingwood in Hampshire or MOD Caldeonia in Rosyth. The course includes introduction to expected fitness standards, initial military fitness and a swimming test
  • Basic Training – Achieving the appropriate level of fitness for you age and gender is one of requirements to pass through Royal Navy basic training. You can purchase all your essential items for Royal Navy Basic Training from Supply Drop at heavily discounted prices

Royal Navy Nationality and Residency Requirements

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
  • 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
  • A British national living abroad

Royal Navy Criminal Convictions Requirements

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 have 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 are applying to the medical branch, gaining a suitability certificate where appropriate

Royal Navy Tattoos and Piercings Requirements

The Royal Navy Tattoos and Piercings Requirements were revised in July 2018.

Most tattoos and piercings will not prevent you from joining the Royal Navy, providing:

  • Tattoos are not visible on a front-view passport. Tattoos on your hands are now acceptable
  • Tattoos are not offensive or obscene
  • Any piercings can be removed

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.