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United States Navy Enlistment Eligibility

Basic Requirements for Navy Enlistment

People wanting to enlist in the United States Navy must meet specific eligibility requirements to be considered qualified. The following information is segmented into the various types of things that are required, and each of those paragraphs have links to the specific pages that may answer your questions – also try the search function, as there are a few hundred pages of information regarding enlistment eligibility available, not to mention the 1000′s of informative comments. Please ask any questions you may have from the most appropriate page, or use the contact form to communicate via email (here). Thank you!

So, first lets talk about how old you have to be to join the Navy. The days of being 15 years old and lying about your age to get in are long gone. You have to be at least 17 years of age (17 with parents signed permission that is) and not older than 34 (if you have reached your 35th birthday, your ship has sailed as it were) for service in the active Navy, you can be anywhere from 18-39 years of age for service in the Navy Reserve. If you want to be a Sailor in the Full Time Support, New Accession Training and National Call to Service programs you can be anywhere from 17-39 years old (again, 17 yr olds must have parents written permission, unless you’ve been emancipated…).

Update as of April 13, 2011: 17 year old applicants may enlist into the Delayed Entry Program but may not ship prior to their 18th birthday, unless their 18th birthday will occur no later than 60 days from date of shipping. All other notes regarding enlistment of 17 year old applicants still apply.

You need to be a United States citizen, permanent resident alien, or U.S. non-citizen national and possess a Social Security Card. You can’t join if we can’t tax ya! (Detailed citizenship requirements)

Must be a High School Diploma Graduate (DoD Tier I) and score at least a 35QT the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). If you don’t have an approved high school diploma, a Tier II credential like the GED, you must score a minimum ASVAB score of 50 – the seats available for Tier II are very limited. English doesn’t have to be your first language, but you must be proficient in reading, speaking, writing, and understanding English to enlist.

You can have no more than one dependent although dependency waivers may be granted if you have more dependents if you can prove that you are a financially responsible human being. Note: If you’re single you must not have physical custody of a dependent if you are processing for enlistment in the active Navy.

Whether you are enlisting or seeking a commission, you must pass a physical examination. This isn’t your every day physical and it must be completed by a doctor at the Military Entrance Processing Station (good ol’ MEPS). You must be within the Navy height and weight standards. The physical not only checks your current status but reviews your past medical history as some ailments can cause long term issues that you may not feel any effects from today. Some disqualifying medical conditions can be waivered and some are normally disqualifying altogether.

You can not be under civil restraint to include, but not limited to, probation or incarceration nor have a pattern of minor convictions or any non-minor misdemeanor or felony convictions; although, Waivers may be granted depending on number and severity – your personal conduct and accomplishments are just a couple of the factors used to determine your waiver (remember: if you get to the point where a waiver interview will be conducted, be respectful and polite!). Special circumstances for domestic violence charges and convictions.

You can not be a substance abuser to include prescription drugs, alcohol, and/or illegal drugs. The Navy has a zero tolerance when it comes to drug usage, it is a ONE strike and you’re OUT.

A 6 minute video that describes a regular visit to MEPS – your individual experience may vary depending on the need for medical consultations and the processing of any waivers that may be required.

Keep in mind this post is very general and is intended to give you a basic overview of enlistment requirements. Make sure you discuss any and all information with your Recruiter and ensure ultimately the information is documented in your enlistment application.


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1,336 Responses to “Basic Requirements for Navy Enlistment”


  1. Shelton. says:

    Thank you for reporting back to me within such a quick time frame.

  2. Danial says:

    I am a former ICC (SS)(SW) with 12 years of service, discharged with an RE-3B. That issue is now resolved although now I have seven dependents; the oldest are 17 (twins). I am also 54 years old and will turn 55 before the twins are legal adults. Do I stand a chance of returning to active duty? Have had difficulty getting a straight answer. Thank you in advance for your answer.

  3. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Chief,

    Currently, prior service are having a hard time finding the billets to get back in. If a billet does exist in recruiting database, much depends on your rating/pay grade and time out of the service. If you can gain the waiver for whatever the RE-3 was for, then your application would need to go to the ECM for consideration — if the rating is already manned, then they would make you try for another rating — I highly doubt that you would find one that would let you come back in as a Chief even if you had only been out a short time. You may want to try the Reserve.

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Chief,

    I don’t know how I overlooked the obvious — you are not eligible to reenlist because you cannot finish your 20 years before you turn 60. My apologies.

  5. Danial says:

    Thanks NCCM for the straight answer. Fair winds to you.

  6. cory says:

    What financial issues will stop me from enlisting

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Cory,

    The question is wide open and would be better if an actual situation was defined — things depend on how many dependents, any judgements, pending litigation, total debt, etc.

  8. Rico says:

    If I have a party to the crime burglary and party to a crime theft by taking 2 felonies that happened 4 years ago can I still get in? High school graduate ascab good everything just my record.

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Rico,

    If both felonies happened while you were a juvenile, then, although very unlikely, a waiver is possible; however, if you were an adult for either offense, then you are not qualified for enlistment — no waivers are authorized.

  10. kyle says:

    Im married and have 1 child will i need a dependent waiver .

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Kyle,

    Yes, you require an NRD level dependency waiver. Follow the Dependency waiver link in the post for more information.

  12. jake says:

    So i have 2 debts in collection and im making payments on them .will i still beable to enlist its only.$2000

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jake,

    I can hurt your chances for a clearance, and if you have dependents, it could make that waiver rough as well; however, you should be okay if otherwise fully qualified.

  14. Nicole says:

    Hi,

    I’m trying to enlist in the Navy Reserve. I read that you needed a 31 on the asvap to qualify for reserve. I scored a 44 but my recruiter would not move forward because he suggested I needed a 50 to enlist as Reserve. Did the Navy change their standards? Every where I research it states the minimum for active duty is 35 and 31 for reserve. A 50 is for those that only have a GED. Please state your opinion. Thank you kindly!

  15. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Nicole,

    It is a 35 minimum for the Navy Reserve — that was changed about 9 years ago to ensure active and reserve requirements were the same. Because of the amount of people that want to join, in some locations they are requiring a minimum 50QT, especially if you require any type of waiver.

  16. Nicole says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for you’re prompt response.. All understood.. I still want to join.. I guess I better start advance studying.. Do you know which locations are not going by the 50qt standard ? Just out of my curiosity.. Thanks again!

  17. Tabitha [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I am 4’9 am I eligible to enlist in the United States Navy?

  18. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Tabitha,

    Yes, as long as you are at least 57 inches tall and otherwise fully qualified, then you could join. The information about height and weight.

  19. ashley says:

    Hey my name is ashley [Last name redacted for privacy] im on probation paying for obstruction justice and have two traffic tickets will i be elegible for the navy

  20. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Ashley,

    You are not eligible to process until all fines, probation, and any other requirements of the court are paid and completed.

  21. Carolyn says:

    My boyfriend wants to join the navy. We have a baby on the way. Will it hurt his chances getting married prior to joining?

  22. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Carolyn,

    First of all, Congratulations to you both!

    If it is the first child for both of you and neither of you have excessive debt, then getting married won’t be an issue. Here is the dependency rules.

  23. Carolyn says:

    Thank you!!
    What would you consider excessive debt?

  24. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Carolyn,

    That can get complicated; I highly recommend that the two of you go to a recruiter and have him fill out a financial statement as if you two were married — then you would know for sure.

  25. Anna. says:

    Hi my name is Anna my question is how extensive is the training and is it possible for me to join the navy although I cannot swim? Will they teach me or do I have to have prior knowledge?

  26. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Anna,

    I recommend that you read this post about boot-camp, and watch the video at the end, it discusses exactly what you are asking. If you still have questions, I look forward to answering them!

  27. Kiera says:

    I’m looking to join the Navy as soon as possible but I’m over weight for my height and age. Is this something they could help me with.. im 24 5’6 and 200+

  28. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Kiera,

    The Navy does not have a program in place to help you lose weight. The Navy expects you to make the proper life choices and get within the weight standards on your own. Read this story of a Sailor and his journey to accomplish exactly what you seek (an aside to the story, Geoff continues to do great things in the Navy!!)

  29. Gary says:

    My son was 1% over on the body fat on his ship date. What are his options. He wants to still be in the navy

  30. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Gary,

    It depends on the local command’s policy. I assume he was discharged and not rolled out to his TDQ date (the earliest date MEPS dictates based on the amount of weight that has to be lost). Most commands will want to see a significant progress towards losing the weight (2-3% under the maximum BF and very close to making weight) — some won’t allow him to return unless he actually makes the weight so they do not have to rely on body fat. His recruiter should be able to provide an answer which option his command would consider.

  31. FrankieC says:

    Hello. I am currently trying to enlist in the Navy, but my recruiter told me I have to do a couple things before I could. One of which is getting a waiver for having been charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. I was just wondering if I am granted the waiver, and am able to enlist, if I would be eligible to go into SpecOps? They said that I will most likely be able to get the waiver, but he didn’t really have an answer as to my eligibility for a Secret Security Clearance. Can you answer this for me, or shed some light on the subject?

    Thank you
    Frankie C.

  32. NCCM(Ret) says:

    FrankieC,

    What was the charge?

  33. MattW says:

    I am prior Navy and would like to get back into active. You mentioned above needing billets to be available, but the recruiter I called said the only way was to do at least a year in the Navy Reserves and then try for active.

    It just seems lame, I’m a programmer and the Navy needs ITs, but I can’t join active due to being prior.

  34. NCCM(Ret) says:

    MattW.,

    I can’t tell you that going into the Reserve will help your chances because I don’t know that to be true — it may be, but it wasn’t like that when I was in recruiting. I do know, however, that the prior service billets are few and far between — it has actually been like that for quite some time. It never really seems to make sense how the billets are distributed, but I am sure there is some freakin bean counter in the sky that has this all figured out. I really wish I could help, and I wish you the best of luck with which ever path you take.

  35. MM says:

    Hello, my spouse and I are in collections with some credit cards… Will this effect or delay me joining the navy?

  36. NCCM(Ret) says:

    MM,

    All persons with dependents must fill out a financial statement to enlist. If your debt is excessive, you may not be able to process until you get that debt under control. If you are awaiting court action, then you would not be able to process until that court action is completed. I recommend that you sit down with a recruiter to put your finances under the microscope to see if it is possible to move forward.

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