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United States Navy Enlistment Eligibility

Basic Requirements for Navy Enlistment

Written by
Published: August 3, 2008
Updated: August 4, 2019

Applicants 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. There are a few hundred pages of information regarding enlistment eligibility available, not to mention the thousands of informative comments. Please ask any questions you may have on the most appropriate page, or use the “Contact Me” link to communicate privately via email. Please keep your comments anonymous as your privacy is paramount.

A short note to keep in mind as you read this and any attached pages: When filling out your application to join the Navy, all your historical information (residence, education, and employment) must be listed for at least the last seven years; however, any prior military service, health issues, police involvement (tickets, citations, arrests, etc), drug, alcohol, and financial information must be included since your date of birth. For example, if you are 25 years old, and you received a ticket for jaywalking at 12 years old, the ticket must be listed in your application.

So, first let’s 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 39 (if you have reached your 40th birthday, your ship has sailed as it were) for service in the active Navy; and for the Navy Reserve, you can be anywhere from 18-39 years of age for service in the Navy Reserve.

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)

Non-prior service applicants must be a High School Diploma Graduate (DoD Tier I) and be able to achieve a minimum of a 31QT composite score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). If you do not have an approved Tier I credential, then a Tier II credential, like the General Education Diploma (GED) may be used, but a minimum ASVAB score of 50QT is required. Tier II applicants must be advised that the openings available for Tier II credentials 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 when 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 everyday 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 waived 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, Conduct 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.

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.

Note: Effective immediately (January 19, 2018), the maximum age for enlistment to the active duty Navy increased to 39 years of age for non-prior service applicants.
Note: Effective immediately (February 26, 2018), the minimum ASVAB score required for enlistment to the Navy has been decreased from a 35QT to a 31QT.



2,411 Responses to “Basic Requirements for Navy Enlistment”


  1. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Lorrie,

    The CRUITMAN is only available through a secure portal (authorized CAC cards); you would have to request a copy from CNRC (the cruitman is currently on Change 2, but change 3 is in the works — there are also OPNOTEs that are sent out periodically — the instruction changes based on those NOTEs, too. Because the document can be so fluid is why finding a current and accurate online copy difficult).

    Currently, on page 159 of COMNAVCRUITCOMINST 1130.8K (CH-2), it states, “Single parents that transfer physical custody of minor dependents must be advised that accession onto active duty cannot occur until 90 days has elapsed from the date of custody transfer and that they may not retain, nor have the minor dependents reside with them during the term of the first enlistment.” OPNOTE #49 released Nov. 30, 2016, removed the 90 day waiting requirement. There has been no change to the rest of the paragraph.

    Beginning in October 2018, the Navy has started a pilot program concerning single parents with custody of a single minor dependent; these 1000 selected single parents (maximum of 500 per year — pilot ends October 2020) are to test whether the second requirement of the paragraph can and should be adjusted or removed.

  2. Mytime says:

    Hi Navy doc,

    I wanted to know if I’ve had back problems in the past (lower back strain) will this disqualify me from enlisting in the navy?

  3. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Mytime,

    As long as there is not damage to the spine, and you have been asymptomatic, you should ultimately be okay.

  4. Mary says:

    When applying for entrance into the Navy, do you have to report ADHD medication taken from elementary school thru middle School. The person needing this info is a male that will turn 21 in July. I know he has to report the medication he took earlier this year but not sure about the medication he took in his earlier years. Also, he was a recreational pot smoker for a short time this year but doesn’t smoke it anymore. He was discreet and never got caught, which is lucky. Does he need to report that when enlisting?

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Mary,

    Yes, he must divulge his entire medical history from birth to present.

  6. MrJ says:

    I know worth is relative. . .

    I’m already at the tail end of the recruitment age. I’ve worked as a civilian in a research capacity for almost twenty years. My formal background is engineering (bsc), neuroscience (phd. it was a phd/md program but didn’t finish the md part) and nursing (bsn). which the rough of it could be summed up as biomechatronics and neuroergonomics, preventative and rehabilitative studies… but I’d be more apt to say ui design.

    nursing was part whim, part gfy to the problems I had with the md and being enough of a pompus arse I became my own assistant after initial failures with a limited budget to find someone with the necessary skills and training. I think I’ve grown some since that immature burst.

    so I know it seems more than absurd to even be considering this… but it’s largely something that has been pushed by my supervisors and never mind being the only civvy in my family. So, I’ve been tossing it around lately as a novelty.

    so, perhaps for fantasy’s sake

    say a tipsy 40 year old bachelor with a niche background, security clear, and having the recommendation of a couple stuffed shirts was greatly entertaining the idea of enlisting… what direction might he consider?

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:

    MrJ.,

    Enlistment is not an option at 40 years of age; however, a commission as a officer is possible. With your history and education, I suspect you may be a very good candidate for the Navy Nurse Corps.

  8. Dave says:

    I have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of higher-functioning Autism. I take prescription medication regularly, but there have been times that I have gone more than two weeks where we did not have access to refills without any severe behavioral problems. I truly believe that I would still be able to function without a steady prescription, but does this still render me ineligible?

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Dave,

    I have not seen a medical waiver approved for Asperger’s Syndrome.

  10. Neal says:

    Hello, I’m hoping to get some clarity. Our daughter went to boot camp, (from what we are told) got an infection from a shot that was given. We were also told, she had the option, wait 4 weeks on a medical hold for it to heal, and then resume training, or leave and go home, and you can come back. She decided to go home. However, the reason will for Adjustment Disorder. I’m not familiar with this, or what it means, and if she will be able to reenlist?

    Thank you

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Neal,

    An adjustment disorder would not be related to the initial shots given at RTC.

    The waiver she would require for returning would not be considered until she establishes herself in a civilian occupation and demonstrates she can adjust to it. At that time, they may consider a waiver.

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Unless otherwise noted, content written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET).

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