Royal Navy Medical Requirements

Updated April 17, 2017

One of the world's great armed forces, rich with history, the Royal Navy (comprising the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines) retains active service members above 34,500 men and women. They are drawn from England, Ireland and the British Commonwealth. The most recent battle seen by the Royal Navy was during the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982. When not seeing combat, members of the Royal Navy patrol and police international waters, protect ports in the United Kingdom, monitor the ocean's weather conditions, clear mines, and deliver relief to countries in crisis.

Age, Education and Height

To join the Royal Navy, one must be almost 16 years of age (15 years, 9 months), and if younger than 18, one must have parental or guardian approval; one must not be older than 36. Few educational requirements exist for those applying for non-officer status. For those desiring to be an officer, 180 UCAS (University and College Admissions Service) points are necessary or five General Certificate of Secondary Education exams, including English and math. Finally, there are height requirements for the Royal Navy: 1.51 meters (4 feet, 9 inches) for most branches, and 1.66 meters (5 feet, 4 inches) for aircraft handlers.


The Royal Navy has high fitness standards with rigorous physical training and, therefore, urges applicants to be as fit as possible. It provides strict guidelines for developing fitness and suggests that all applicants undergo its recommended eight-week training course before applying. This includes swimming (20 minutes, plus 3 minutes of treading water), running (building up from 20 minutes to 40), and a regimen of callisthenics and stretching. The Royal Navy also encourages proper eating habits prior to application and after admission.

Medical Requirements

The Royal Navy demands that its applicants be disease-free, as well as free of injury, and conducts a thorough medical examination of its applicants, during which a full medical history is taken. Applicants are rejected if they are found to be suffering from epilepsy, asthma, colitis or Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis or other bone or joint disorders, or diabetes. During the application, the examining doctor may use his or her judgment about the applicant's answers to reject them on other medical grounds.

Drugs Policy

The Royal Navy has a strict policy of zero-tolerance for illegal drugs; they have a drug education program that must be attended by all Royal Navy personnel once every three years. They also test randomly for drug use within their ranks. A 2008 internal study showed that .53 per cent of those tests were positive; once seamen or seawomen have been shown to have illegal drugs in their system, they are given the discharge of SNLR (Service No Longer Required).

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