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How to join

Everybody joining the Army has to meet some basic entry requirements. These cover a range of areas. Whether you serve full time as a Regular or in your spare time as a Reservist.

If you’ve have any questions that are not answered here, please call one of our advisers on 0345 600 8080.

Got a question?

0345 600 8080

Can I join?

Everybody joining the Army has to meet some basic entry requirements, whether you serve full time as a Regular or in your spare time as a Reservist.

Not old enough?

If you're not old enough to join yet, there are loads of ways to get involved,Camouflage tells you about the jobs we do and the kit we use.

Become an Army Cadet
 If you're between 12 and 18 you can enjoy sports, expeditions, outdoor adventure and loads of Army-themed activities as a member of the Army Cadet Force. You can learn survival skills and weapons handling, work towards a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and even get some extra qualifications. There are 1700 detachments throughout the country so there’s bound to be one near you. 

How old do I need to be to join the Regular Army?

To join as a regular soldier you need to be at least 16 years old, although you can start the application process earlier, with your parents' permission. If you're under 18, you'll also need parental consent to join. You should be in Army phase 1 training before your 33rd birthday.

You can become a Reservist soldier between the ages of 18 and 43.

To join a regular officer you need to be between 18 - 26, although you can apply for sixth form and university sponsorship before you reach this age. However, current Army policy allows applicants to enter the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) after their 26th birthday and before their 29th birthday in the AGC (SPS), AGC (ETS), ACG (RMP) and RAMC (MSO), or if they are a serving soldier. Higher age limit for professional or specialist applicants may apply.

To become a Reservist officer, you should be between 18 and 35, although there are higher age limits for professional or specialist applicants.

If you're going from serving soldier to officer, you need can attend AOSB up to the age of 28 provided that you arrive at RMAS before your 29th Birthday. Your career profile and realistic potential as a Deferred Entry officer must be carefully considered. It is vital to compare your prospects in the ranks and as a Late Entry Officer, against your long term prospects as a DE officer.

What are the nationality / residency rules for joining?

Soldiers from across the Commonwealth and other countries have a long and proud tradition of service in the British Army. That tradition continues today. The Army welcomes applicants from certain countries and overseas territories, but you may need to have lived in the UK for a set period of time to be eligible for certain roles.

To join the Regular Army you should be:

  • British citizen, or
  • British subject under the Nationality Act, 1981 or
  • A citizen of a Commonwealth country. To join the Regular Army, you'll need Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or have resided in the UK for five years before you start an application to join the Army.  You must not have been out of the UK for a continuous period of more than 180 days (six months) during this five year period. To join the Army Reserve, you need to prove that you either have British citizenship or Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. or
  • British Protected Person or
  • Citizen of the Irish Republic. For the Army Reserve, you will need to no longer be living in the Irish Republic to be eligible to join

How fit and healthy do I need to be?

Your GP must fill in a medical questionnaire and you will have to pass a full Army medical.

Soldier fitness standards:

You will go through a range of strength and stamina tests, as well as a 1.5-mile run. The standards you need to meet in these tests depend on your choice of unit and job. Your Careers Adviser and the staff at the centre will be able to tell you more about the requirements for a specific role. All soldiers will be tested on static lift, jerry can and a run.

Officer fitness standards:

Part of the assessment process is the beep test, which is used to measure your cardiovascular fitness - running between two lines, 20 m apart, within a fixed time. The interval between beeps steadily decreases, so you have to run faster. Your score is determined by the time at which you can no longer keep up. Other tests include sit-ups and press-ups.

What qualifications do I need to join?

To join as a soldier, you do not need any qualifications, except in some of the specialist roles.

To join as an officer, you'll need 35 ALIS points (34 for SNQs) from 7 GCSE/SNQ subjects, with a minimum grade C/2 in English Language, Maths and either a science or a foreign language; plus 180 UCAS Tariff points from a maximum of 3 subjects (4 for Scottish Highers and excluding General Studies) with a minimum of 2 at National Level 3 (excluding AS Levels) or National or International equivalent.

To go from serving soldier to officer, you'll need GCSE passes or equivalent in 5 subjects, including English Language and Mathematics at Grade C (or above) or the nationally recognised equivalent. If you do not meet this criteria you will undergo an assessment at the Army School of Education, Worthy Down, before being recommended for the selection process.

Can I still join with a criminal conviction?

Everyone makes mistakes and a criminal conviction doesn’t have to stop you from joining the Army. Be honest about your past history when you come in for a chat, and we might be able to offer you that all-important second chance.

With the chance to learn a trade and skills that last a lifetime, Army life is a great way to make a fresh start.

Some convictions are forgotten – or ‘spent’ – after a rehabilitation period. The length of this period depends on the offence. You must tell us about any unspent convictions you have. For some jobs you’ll need to tell us about any convictions when you apply, whether spent or not. You need to be honest – if you hide a conviction before joining up, you could be prosecuted later.

For more information and guidance, read the Guidance on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

Updating us during your application

At all times during the application process, you need to make sure that you tell us about any changes to your circumstances when it comes to offences. This includes waiting for a court appearance for a criminal offence, for any reason (including jury service) other than as a witness, until the outcome of the hearing is known. This may cause a delay to your application.

Will my tattoos / piercings stop me joining?

Tattoos
If your tattoo is offensive, obscene or racist it will prevent you from joining the Army. Small tattoos that aren't offensive in any way are not normally a problem, depending where they are on your body and how visible they are. Tattoos on your head, neck and hands may be a problem, depending on their size and nature. If you have a tattoo, the best thing is to go to your nearest Army Careers Centre and ask them to check if it's okay.

Body piercing
Some body piercings will be stop you joining, or re-joining. If you have piercings that change the way you look, eg flesh tunnels, or those which might affect the way in which your body works, eg some genital piercings.

For health and safety reasons, you will be asked to take off jewellery before undergoing physical activity as part of your application and selection process. Once you have joined the Army, you will be told the rules for wearing body jewellery when on and off duty.

What's the Army policy on drugs?

If you've used drugs in the past, it won't normally prevent you from joining the Army, but after you join, you must not misuse drugs. The Army carries out random, compulsory drugs testing, and if the tests find you have been using drugs, you are highly likely to be discharged.

Can I rejoin the Army Reserve?

Yes, as long as you have:

  • been trained and completed service in last 6 years for fast track application.
  • Medical discharge category of MFD and MLD acceptable.
  • 18 - 57 for a soldier and 18 - 52 for an officer (higher age limit for some professional or specialist applicants)

Medical conditions

Army life can be mentally and physically demanding. That’s why some medical conditions and ongoing illnesses can stop you from joining. A full medical examination is part of the application process, but it’s worth checking this list before you start to see if you are eligible.

Contact your Careers Adviser if you need more information.

Got a question?

0345 600 8080

Abdominal problems

Chronic abdominal diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
Kidney disorders such as polycystic kidney disease or kidney stones.
Donation of a kidney within the last two years.
Kidney disease within the last two years.

Back problems

Spinal surgery (including internal fixation or fusion).
Recurrent lower back pain.
Spina bifida.

Blood diseases

Sickle Cell disease.
Congenital spherocytosis.
Thalassaemia.
HIV seropositivity / AIDS.
Being a carrier of hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
Past history of leukaemia or malignant lymphoma.  Must be disease, treatment and review free for five years.

Bone or joint problems

Meniscectomy (knee cartilage operation) within the last year.
Lower limb fractures with internal fixation (metalwork) within the last year.
Loss of a limb.
Complete loss of a thumb or big toe.
Clubfoot (including past surgery).
Chronic joint diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
Reiter's disease within the last five years.
Osteochondritis dissecans.

Chest disorders

Asthma, strong asthma-like symptoms or treatment for related illnesses within the last four years.
Chronic lung diseases such as emphysema, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis.
Active tuberculosis.

Ear disorders

Current perforation of ear drum.
Chronic ear diseases such as cholesteatoma.
Presence of eardrum 'grommets'.

Eye disorders

Chronic eye diseases such as glaucoma, keratoconus and retinitis pigmentosa.

Surgery for a squint within the last six months.

Corneal problems such as a corneal graft or recurrent corneal ulcers.

Loss or dislocation of an eye lens.

Cataract or cataract surgery.

Detached retina.

Neurological disorders

Epilepsy or more than one seizure or fit after the age of five. Any seizure or fit within the last ten years. Multiple sclerosis.

Other conditions

Loss of spleen (splenectomy).
Having received transplanted organs.
Severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis requiring adrenaline injection.
Severe nut allergy.
Circulation problems such as Raynaud's phenomenon.
Diabetes.
Diseases requiring long-term medication or replacement therapy.

Pregnancy

Current pregnancy or childbirth within the last three months.

Psychiatric problems

Schizophrenia.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Alcohol or drug dependence.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Skin problems

An active skin disease such as eczema or widespread psoriasis.

The joining process

soldiers on exercise

The joining process

Find out more about the different stages that you'll be expected to go through once you have decided to apply to join the Army.

Thinking of applying?

Soldiers crouching on exercise

Thinking of applying?

Create an online account and you can always save your application as you go along. Then you can submit it when you’re ready.

Funding schemes

Student life can be expensive, but the Army can help with the cost of continuing your education.
Female soldiers in an office

Further Education bursary

Want to go to college or sixth form before you join the Regular Army? The Further Education Bursary can help. It is a yearly cash payment to help you meet the cost of your course. It gives you the chance to earn while you learn. And gives you plenty of opportunity to find out what Army life’s about before you head to basic (phase 1) training.

Try Army life

If you’re between 15 and 25 (under 18s need a parent’s consent), try out Army life on a short insight course.

The course tests your initiative, leadership, communication and team-building skills. You’ll be given kit when you arrive, but you’ll need your overnight things, sports gear and wash bag.

Courses run throughout the year, in different parts of the country.

Army Insight Course

Army Insight Course

Our insight courses give you a taste of what it's like to be in the Army. We know that signing up to join is a big step, so coming along to one of these courses can help you be sure that you're making the right choice.

FAQs - How to join

Where can I get help completing my application?

You can talk to your local careers office, contact our advisers on Live Chat or call us on 0345 600 8080. If you are planning on joining the Army Reserve, your local unit will support you throughout your application.

Why haven’t I heard from the Army about my application?

Application timings can vary depending on the role you’ve applied for, but you should have received an email from us within 2 weeks from the date you first applied. If you haven’t received an email from us, or to find out about the progress of your application, get in touch with us using Live Chat.

How do I apply to AFC Harrogate?

To apply to AFC Harrogate you can use our normal Army application form, which you'll find it in My Account (you'll need to create an account to access this part of the site). Or if you'd like to talk to someone face to face about your options, visit your local Army Careers Centre.

When can I restart my application?

Restarting your application will vary depending on your individual circumstances. When you are told that you have not met the criteria, you should receive an indication of when you can reapply. If you have a question on this then go to Live Chat where someone will be able to advise on your circumstances.

How long will it take for me to reach the next stage in my application?

The whole application process can take around 3 – 5 months to complete, depending on the role you have applied for. The time to reach the next stage in your application can vary, so timings will not be the same for everyone. If you have a specific question about your application, use Live Chat to talk to us.

What documents do I need for my medical?

You do not need to bring any specific documents, but there are a few things that you can do to prepare for your medical. You will be asked questions about your family history and it would be helpful if you could be prepared for this. You should also bring your glasses with you and remove soft contact lenses 2 days before, and hard contact lenses 10 days before your assessment. In addition you are advised to avoid fizzy drinks, energy drinks, alcohol or coffee and sugary foods 12 hours before your medical.

Contact us

Call us on 0345 600 8080

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