You can't join if

To join the RAF, you'll need to meet our requirements for nationality and residencyage and fitness. Each job also has its own minimum academic and other requirements, and it's important that you check these eligibility criteria before applying.

As part of the UK Armed Forces, the RAF also has some specific expectations which could prevent you from joining. Please read this section of the website carefully. If you have any questions about any of these issues, call 0845 605 5555 for more information.


Your application will definitely not be accepted if you’ve ever been, or still are, a member of a group that stirs up racial hatred and violence.

Equal opportunities

All RAF roles are open to women, with the exception of RAF Regiment Officer and RAF Regiment Gunner. The RAF Regiment carries out duties similar to front-line infantry and, in common with the Army, only men are recruited for roles that can involve fighting the enemy face to face. This policy may be reviewed in the future.

Court appearances and convictions

If you’re waiting to appear in court, you might have to wait for the outcome of your case before you can apply to join. If you have spent or unspent convictions, you may be excluded from some roles.

If you are ex-Service and were discharged for disciplinary reasons, you can’t re-join the RAF.

Substance misuse

The misuse of drugs, solvents and anabolic steroids is not tolerated within the Armed Forces. It is incompatible with the standards, professionalism and ethos of the Service and with the RAF’s duty to preserve the safety of all personnel.

The Armed Forces recognise that drug, solvent and steroid misuse is increasingly common in civilian life, particularly among the young, and that some people may have misused drugs in the past but no longer have any substance misuse issues.

Every applicant’s history of drug misuse will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Disclosing an incident of drug misuse in your past will not necessarily mean you cannot join the Service. The decision will depend on the circumstances of the substance misuse and your attitude towards the RAF’s policy on drugs.

At interview, you will be expected to be aware of and support the RAF’s policy on substance misuse and the reasoning behind it. If you are accepted into the RAF, you should be aware that you will be subject to random drug testing and discharged from the RAF if caught misusing drugs, solvents or steroids.

If you have a criminal conviction for trafficking or supplying any class of drug, you will not be able to join the Services.

Tattoos and bead implantation

The RAF policy on tattoos prohibits personnel from joining the service if they have tattoos or brands that are deemed obscene or offensive (eg racist, anti-religion or belief, crude, overtly sexist, homophobic, drug-related or of an extreme political nature).

In addition, RAF Personnel are not permitted to have any tattoos that are above the neck collar, on the hands, wrists or on the ankles so that they are visible in Service uniform.

Similarly, bead implantation that is deemed obscene or offensive or is visible in Service uniform is not permitted.

Whether a tattoo or bead implantation is deemed obscene or offensive will be determined on a case-by-case basis according to extant policy and seeking legal advice where appropriate.

Please be aware that during the recruiting process, a record of the location of tattoos/bead implantation will be requested.

Body piercing and adornments

Body piercing is not prohibited by the RAF. However, we do have a policy on what is acceptable in terms of adornments and body jewellery when you are on duty or standby duty.

Personnel will be asked to remove adornments and body jewellery in accordance with this policy. Body piercing which causes holes that will not close up is not permitted. Applicants whose flesh tunnels have healed up, or are in the process of healing without leaving a hole, are eligible. If you refuse to have flesh tunnels stitched up or to allow them to heal, you will not be eligible for service.

Previous applications

If you have made a previous application to join the Armed Forces that has been rejected or deferred, please be aware that this has been recorded and will be checked against any future application that you make.

Pay and benefits

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