royalnavy.mod.ukTop Class Employer with Top Class People
Royal NavyRoyal Navy

Frequently Asked Questions

Q, What Is The Royal Naval Reserve?

The RNR is a part time organisation, which complements the Royal Navy in times of war, conflict and in peacetime where there is a requirement by the regular service. Entry into the RNR is the same as for the regular service.

Q, What Is The Difference Between Officers And Ratings?

Most entrants to the RNR join as ratings.The exceptions to this are ex-RN officers, Merchant Navy officers and some medical officers, including nursing officers. Ratings undergo New Entry training before they are entered in a particular specialisation. Once trained, they can be considered for promotion to the commissioned ranks (i.e. officer).

Officers provide the higher management structure and will generally be responsible for the welfare and training of a number of ratings.

Q, Are There Age Limits For Recruits?

16 years of age to 40 (45 if ex-RN). For those under 16 years old, consider the Sea Cadets, the youth organisation based on the Royal Navy or your school may run a CCF(RN) section. For more information, look at the Sea Cadets website...

Q, How Long Do I Have To Join For?

Service in the RNR is dependent on whether you are a rating or officer. Ratings join for 5 years and can 're-engage' at the end of each period, this means you continue in 5 year spells). Ratings 'retire' from the RNR at age 45. Officers do not have to re-engage, and retire at 50 but may extend by mutual agreement.

Q, Can Women Join The RNR?

Women can join the Royal Navy Reserve and serve in all specialisations. Currently, women make up about 30% of the RNR

Q, Would A Criminal Record Stop Me From Joining?

Not necessarily. With reference to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, RNR staff will advise individual applicants regarding spent and unspent convictions. The severity of the offence committed governs the time of the rehabilitation period, which has to be completed before an applicant can be processed for entry into the service.

Q, Can I Change Jobs (Specialisations) Once I Join The RNR?

Depending on the requirement you can, subject to seeking the approval of the individual specialisation managers to ensure one specialisation does not go short whilst another is overborne.

Q, How Many Do You Recruit Each Year?

In 2001, 500+ reservists were recruited. There is currently no ceiling on recruiting and all potential recruits are welcome.

Q, What Are The Physical Fitness Requirements On Entry To The Service?

The current fitness regulations for joining the RNR are the same as the Royal Navy's and requires potential recruits to complete the Pre Joining Fitness Test .

Q, Would Physical Injuries (Eg. Sporting Injuries) Prevent Me From Joining The RN/RM?

It depends on the scope of the injury; injuries that prevent or reduce mobility depending on severity may bar you from entry. Ask staff at your local Careers Office for advice. All entrants have to pass an exacting medical examination to join.

Q, Will The RN/RM Help Me Pay My Way Through College/University?

The RNR does not offer any sponsorship but for each training evening attended in the unit, a payment is made. Students find this form of income useful and it also provides a social environment. You may wish to consider joining a University Royal Naval Unit instead. These are scattered around the country. Find out more here

Q, Are There Any Apprenticeships Available?


There are no engineering specialisations in the RNR.

Q, What Is The Training Like?

Fun. It can be challenging and rewarding. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Most training takes place during drill nights at the RNR Units or during weekends. More demanding training takes place within the Royal Navy and is directly oriented towards the reservist's operational role.

Q, How Long Will My Training Take?

It varies, depending on the specialisation you are going to do. Generally, because training only takes place one night a week, it takes between 2 to 4 years to become fully trained.

Q, I Am Underage… Can You Put Me On A Waiting List To Join The RN or RM?

No, you will have to apply when you are 16. However, joining the Sea Cadets will give you a vert good insight into what we do. More details can be found at

Q, Where Can I Get Details Of Pay Into The RNR?

Starting pay is about £27 per day. Also, travelling expenses are paid to the RNR Unit on a training evening. A tax-free bounty is payable each year providing you complete your annual training commitment - normally 12 days operational role training and 12 days 'drills' or support activity. Currently, the tax free bounty starts at £330 for the first year rising to £1290 for the 5th and subsequent years. More information is available from your nearest RNR Unit.

Q, Can I Join With My… Brother, Sister, Friend, Husband/Wife/Partner And Serve Together?


Q, I Am Foreign… Can I Join?

To be eligible to be processed, at the time of application, a candidate must be a British citizen, or a citizen of a Commonwealth country, or a citizen of the Irish Republic. Asylum seekers are not eligible for entry into the Naval Service.

Q, I Am Disabled… Can I Join?

The Armed Forces require anyone who joins to be medically fit to serve worldwide. New entrants to the Armed Forces undergo intensive training, which is physically demanding and mentally taxing. New entrants must be of a robust constitution and free from disease or pre-existing injury to meet this challenge. If you decide to apply and your application is accepted, you will be required to pass a full medical examination. Your application will be rejected if you fail to meet the minimum acceptable medical standard for entry.

Q, If I Change My Mind, How Quickly Can I Leave?

At any time.

Q, Is There An Ethnic/Equal Opportunities Policy For The RN/RM?

The Naval Service is fully committed to the application of equality of opportunity for all its employees within the frame-work of the law, irrespective of gender, race, ethnic origin, religion or social background. All serving personnel have equality of opportunity for employment and advancement based upon ability. The Naval Service makes every effort to accommodate religious and cultural requirements including dietary needs within constraints imposed by operations, health & safety and duty of care.

Q, Can I Join The Royal Navy From The RNR?

Some of our reservists go on to join the Royal Navy and find the initial training easier than their counterparts. There is also the possibility of short term full-time contracts, called Full Time Reserve Service, which can be from 3 months to 3 years serving in the RN.

Q, Can I Travel Abroad With The RNR?

Some exercises and training are conducted abroad and a list of all courses and exercises is available in each RNR Unit. A reservist in the specialisation required can apply for this training or for exercises.

Q, Can I Go To Sea With The RNR?

The RNR no longer controls its own ships but many opportunities exist to go to sea with the RN once you are fully trained.