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Navy has Enlistment Dependency Limits

Navy Dependency Waiver

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Published: January 7, 2011
Updated: July 2, 2021

If you are enlisting into the Navy with dependents (dependent definition) in an entry level paygrade (E-1 to E-4), historically some encounter family hardships due to financial situations soon after enlisting. Navy Recruiting Command wants to eliminate from consideration those who cannot balance the demands of family and service, or who would experience a financial hardship at the onset of naval service. You can use the chart below to determine your potential eligibility based on the current instructions.

FOR ACTIVE DUTY
IF YOU ARE AND HAVE: THEN YOU ARE: NUMBER OF
DEPENDENTS AND
WAIVER LEVEL
Unmarried or Divorced
(NPS and PS)
No dependents Eligible No waiver required
Custody of dependents Ineligible No waiver authorized
No custody of dependents Eligible with appropriate level waiver 1-2= NTAG CO
3 or more = Ineligible
Married
(NPS and PS)
Spouse only Eligible No waiver required
Married
(NPS enlisting in pay grades E1 to E4 and PS enlisting in pay grades E1 to E4 with broken service)
Minor/non-minor dependents Eligible with appropriate level waiver 2 = No waiver required
3 (max 2 minors) = NTAG CO
4 or more = Ineligible
Married
(NPS enlisting in paygrades E5 and above and PS enlisting in paygrades E5 and above with broken service)
Minor/non-minor dependents Eligible with appropriate level waiver 1 – 3 (max 2 minors) = Eligible
4 – 5 NTAG CO
6 or more = Ineligible
Married
(PS enlisting under continuous service)
Minor/non-minor dependents Eligible No waiver required
NTAG – Navy Talent Acquisition Group; PS – Prior Service; NPS – Non Prior Service
FOR NAVY RESERVE COMPONENT
IF YOU ARE AND HAVE: THEN YOU ARE: NUMBER OF
DEPENDENTS AND
WAIVER LEVEL
Unmarried or Divorced
(NPS and PS)

Note: FTS programs must meet AC dependency requirements)

No dependents Eligible No waiver required
Dependents Eligible with appropriate level waiver 1-3 (Max 2 Minors)= NTAG CO
4 or more = Ineligible
Married
(NPS and PS)
Spouse only Eligible No waiver required
Married
(NPS enlisting in pay grades E1 to E4 and PS enlisting in pay grades E1 to E4 with broken service)
Minor/non-minor dependents Eligible with appropriate level waiver 1-2 = No waiver required
3-4 = NTAG CO
5 or more = Ineligible
Married
(NPS enlisting in paygrades E5 and above and PS enlisting in paygrades E5 and above with broken service)
Minor/non-minor dependents Eligible with appropriate level waiver 1-3 (max 2 minors) = No waiver required
4-5 NTAG CO
6 or more = Ineligible
Married
(PS enlisting under continuous service)
Minor/non-minor dependents Eligible No waiver required
NTAG – Navy Talent Acquisition Group; PS – Prior Service; NPS – Non Prior Service

For enlistment and affiliation purposes, a divorce decree or adoption decree verifies a change of custody, not dependency. Active Duty single applicants, (male and female), who have dependents must have relinquished physical custody of dependents by court order. Absent a court order, a child support order awarded by the state where the child resides may be used to determine eligibility for enlistment. The court order or child support order (with appropriate official signature) is required prior to processing for enlistment.

During your waiver interview,
The interviewer will:

  1. Determine if you are handling present personal and financial affairs in a mature, competent, and responsible manner.
  2. Counsel you concerning potential problems that may be experienced at the onset of enlistment relating to financial matters and the assignment to possible dependent restricted tours.
  3. Will gain full acknowledgement that you are fully aware of the service requirements, deployments, and the separation from family members.

NOTE: A prior bankruptcy is not by itself a disqualifier for enlistment eligibility; however, it may affect the job you are qualified for because of the various security clearance requirements.

During your background investigation (initiated after you enter the Delayed Entry Program), a thorough check will be make into your finances.

Policy Update (Feb 2016): There has been a change to the dependency waiver matrix for those entering in pay grade E-1 through E-4. For married applicants with three dependents, a CNRC waiver is no longer required — the waiver is now just a local Navy Recruiting District waiver. Those with four dependents still require the CNRC level waiver, and those with five dependents remain ineligible for waiver consideration.

Policy Update (May 2016):: The waiver approval authority for all Dependency waivers has been fully delegated to each of the local Navy Recruiting District Commanding Officers. See waiver chart above for waiver authority matrix.

Policy Update (November 2017):: The Enlistee Financial Statement (NAVCRUIT 1130/13) is no longer required to be filled out; however, depending on the local requirements for waiver consideration, the financial information it defined is likely to still be required in another form (handwritten statement, etc.).

Policy Update effective July 1, 2021: The maximum total number of dependents allowed has been reduced.



1,272 Responses to “Navy Dependency Waiver”


  1. NCCM(Ret) says:

    C.W.,

    If you plan to be married, I advise you to get married before joining to let the military consider the waiver for the four dependents (spouse and three children).

    If you plan to join as a single parent, then you need to have court documents show the physical custody and child support arrangement.

  2. Ray says:

    I’m 30 years old engaged with 2 little girls 4,2 and 1 boy on the way.would like to know if I’m eligible to join the navy. It’s literally only my spouse and I taking care of the kids how would I be able to manage me Beijing away and my family being set.

  3. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Ray,

    It sounds like your fiance and children live with you meaning you both share physical custody of the children; as a single parent, you would not be eligible. You would be eligible for waiver consideration with four dependents once you get married. I highly recommend you contact your local Navy recrutier so he/she can go over the specifics in detail as they relate to your circumstance.

    Congratulations on the boy!!

  4. Michael says:

    I might be on the wrong place, but i am going back to meps for inspect after 4 months after my feet waiver approval. I’ve been going back two times to meps for consults since my initial exam on dec and i remember the faces of each staff working there lol. What does the inspect consists of? Do i have to go through all the exams? Because it’s been 4 months since my initial.

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Michael,

    An inspection physical is required if you return to MEPS after 30 days of your full MEPS physical exam, and again each time you return to MEPS if 30 days has passed from your last physical inspection. The inspect checks height and weight; to see if anything has changed from your last visit (a series of questions — not an exam unless required); and if female, a pregnancy check.

  6. Michael says:

    i see. So there will be no duck walk, eye, urine or blood test?

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Michael,

    Correct, unless your health has changed since the physical — if that is the case, they would expect the medical records in advance of your next visit.

  8. Christian says:

    Good morning,
    Today I found out that my wife is pregnant and a few months in. I am in DEP already but this is going to be our fourth child and I am not sure where I fall on this issue. Am I going to be booted out of DEP and the Navy for having 5 dependents?

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Christian,

    A dependency waiver for five dependents is not authorized, so they would have to discharge you.

  10. Zach says:

    So I a have enlisted. And I’m worried because my wife wants to have third child if she gets pregnant will this effect my enlistment

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Zach,

    The maximum number of dependents you can have and still potentially qualify to ship to boot-camp is four. Assuming you have yet to ship to boot-camp, and you have just three dependents (spouse and two children), if she gets pregnant, you will have four dependents. You must ensure that your records, specifically the dependency waiver, are updated to reflect the additional dependent as soon as you become aware.

  12. greg says:

    Son wants to join the Navy. Girlfriend is active duty and they have 1 child. Had lawyer draw up documents and those documents state, Mother has primary custody and they both have joint legal custody. Documents also state child support and paternity. Is there specific wording, we may need, so we can amend?

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Greg,

    He should be able to take the current documents and have them reviewed; if they happen to be missing something, they may be able to tell him what that may be. Based on the limited info you provided, he may be fine.

  14. Melissa says:

    Hello!

    I want to join the navy as an officer. I am finishing up my bachelors now and going to grad school for masters or doctorate. I am 34 years old, married and have 5 children. My husband makes excellent money so we wouldn’t experience financial hardship by me joining. Would I be able to get a waiver?

  15. Jay says:

    I am actively looking at joining, completed almost everything except going to MEPS because I have to get docs in order for the waiver board. I am married with physical custody of three kids and another child that I have birth to but I have no physical custody, financial obligation or time with. His father has hin 365 and nothing illegal happened it was just the best interest of the child. My question is I have legal documents stating all that even documents stating who gets custody of the said child upon his father death, will the waiver board approve me at 4 dependents or do I have to have other legal documents in regards to said child?

  16. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Melissa,

    Officer programs does not have dependency restrictions.

  17. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jay,

    Unless your four child was legally adopted leaving you with no legal claim to the child, you have five dependents based on what you wrote. A dependency waiver would not be authorized for five dependents.

  18. Ahmad says:

    I’m prior service (got out as an E-4 in the Navy) with 5 dependents, since then I have received my Bachelor’s Degree, what steps do I need to take to come back in as an Officer?

  19. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Ahmad,

    For Navy officer programs, you would have to contact an officer recrutier. Officer applicants do not have to meet the dependency requirements listed in this article.

  20. Crissy p says:

    Hi,
    I recently turned 31 years old in July. I’m married with one child, not biological to my husband. I have full custody of my child. I wanted to join the navy for years, but I wanted to at least enter with my bachelor’s degree. I will be completing my degree in December 2020. If I were to have another child in between, how would that work? Would I still be eligible to enlist? Enlisting in the Navy has been on my mind for some time now.

  21. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Crissy,

    Assuming your husband doesn’t have any children from previous relationships, you have two dependents (your child and husband). Joining would not be a problem due to dependency. If your husband does have children from other relationships, those would count as yours, too, for enlistment purposes.

  22. Crissy p says:

    Thank you so much!
    Your response was helpful.

  23. April [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Just curious to see if joining is a possibility. If a person has 4 years active duty , 5 children, and a college degree, and 39 years old are they eligible to enlist as an officer? Would the person need a waiver? Are they automatically disqualified due to age, dependents, etc. Spouse has a degree and a professional job.

  24. NCCM(Ret) says:

    April,

    Dependency is not a consideration for eligibility for commissioning programs. For age requirements, it depends on the Navy Officer program the person is applying to.

  25. Chante says:

    I am 27 year old mother of 4 children, I will soon be married I want to join the navy and become either an EOD or a navy seal, will I be able to join with my dependents. I heard my husband wouldn’t have to be claimed because I’m going active but I could be wrong.

  26. Chante says:

    I am 27 a mom of 4 and soon to be wife. Will I be able to join active duty to become an EOD or a seal? I heard I don’t have to claim my husband as a dependent if he has insurance already. But I could be wrong. I really want to became a navy seal but I also like EOD and I haven’t had any straight answers to what are my steps.

  27. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Chante,

    As a single parent, you would not be eligible for enlistment with four dependents; if you were married, you must claim him as a dependent unless he was already on active duty. If he is not on active duty, but is the father of the four children, he would also not be eligible.

  28. Luj says:

    My husband is active duty looking to do his 20 years. I am a Nursing Student who wants to join after obtaining my Bachelors degree, I am 29 now and will graduate by 30. We have four children, will I be able to enlist or go the officer route with a waiver due to having 4 children? My husband would still be active so he wouldn’t qualify as a dependent correct?

  29. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Luj,

    Being your husband is currently serving on active duty, he would not be counted as a dependant for enlistment purposes. An enlistment dependency waiver for four dependants is possible. For officer commissioning, there are no initial dependency restrictions.

  30. Jasmine says:

    So I took my asvab and got a 69 afqt, I have three children and a husband plus one child that I have no custody of and have no child support order. His father and i made the choice that he was thriving more with him. We have a court order that shows he has 365 days I have 0 and again no child support. His father even did an affidavit to state how we parent and what we do we have been doing this for five years. My paper work has now been sent for processing, do you think I will have any issues. The paper work even states that his parents will have custody if one or both of us parish again the judge signed off on all of this because we went into court in agreement.

  31. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jasmine,

    For enlistment purposes, you still must count your child living elsewhere as a dependent. Who has custody, full time or not, is irrelevant.

  32. Jasmine says:

    Is my recruiter wasting my time then the NC1 said I shouldn’t have a problem but I dont know what to believe anymore because I have been told si many different things.

  33. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jasmine,

    CNRC would have to read and consider the documents you have, but they don’t sound like they contain any provision that you have given up your parental rights — something that is usually transferred via an adoption. Have the NC1 submit what you have, but based on what you told me here, I think you may be counting the child in the dependency equation for enlistment purposes.

  34. Scar says:

    Hey, I been trying to figure out how the navy works , I am currently pregnant with my first child at 16 .my bf is 17 and will be going into the navy when he 18 after summer, I will already have delivered our child. I am wondering if I am not married to him will he be able to still continue to see his child ,or help me out with our child. Will I need to marry him in order for the navy to except the child and me? And I will be 17 once I give birth so I don’t think I can marry him in till I’m 18 but will I have to struggle with no help from him financially?

  35. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Scar,

    His name should appear on the birth certificate, and once the child is born, ensure there is a child support order — one that describes the physical custody arrangement. He would need that to join. I recommend he make an appointment for the both of you to sit down with a recruiter to discuss further specifics.

  36. Shanell says:

    Hello. I’m 26 years old and currently have two children from a previous marriage. I’m currently married to an Army Reserves soldier and we are expecting our third. Am I eligible to enlist? I was hoping to go for HM since I have 6 years of experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant or a Yeoman but at this point I just want to get my foot in the door.

  37. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Shanell,

    You are not be eligible for consideration with more than four dependents.

  38. Rafael says:

    Hi so I have 3 children from previous relationship never married I’m trying to enlist active duty. My recruiter told me I would need to sign over custody and wait 90 days unless I got married ? I do have a girlfriend and it’s a possibility but she has 4 kids aswell from a previous relationship. Would I need to claim her children as dependents if we marry ? They all are under the age of 18.

  39. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Rafael,

    Yes, when married, in addition to your own children, you would claim her and her children as dependents for enlistment purposes. The option your recruiter suggested appears to be your only option at this point. If you do transfer physical custody, ensure the order also provides for child support.

  40. Cheryl says:

    Hi,

    I want to join the Navy, possess my bachelors degree, have one daughter, and a husband serving in the National Guard. However, we may be getting divorced. I know the pilot program has expired, but it f I get divorced is there any way I can join active duty without relinquishing custody of my child? Joining the Mavy has been a life long ambition. Thank you.

  41. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Cheryl,

    Active duty enlistment as a single parent with custody of a child is not authorized; however, there may be an opportunity to commission as a Naval officer if otherwise fully qualified and competitive.

  42. Kaija says:

    Married with 1 child am I eligible for enlistment for the Navy?

  43. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Kaija,

    Yes, you would be eligible for enlistment with two dependents.

  44. John says:

    NCCM,

    I am a prior service Marine SGT that separated in September 2020.I have a Waiver to come back active duty. I am divorced with 2 kids.My Ex wife and I have 50/50 custody.Went to meps this month and meps said I was not eligible due to dependents?

  45. NCCM(Ret) says:

    John,

    I don’t know what the specific issue is, but for active duty, you cannot have physical custody of your children as a single parent. Your recruiter should be able to tell you exactly what the reason. Your custody arrangement may require an adjustment through the courts.

  46. Joy says:

    Hi NCCM,

    I’m 34 and a single parent to 1 child under 18. I have a Bachelors degree. Would it be possible to enlist in Reserves? I’ve taken the ASVAB a while ago before having my son, but chose not to pursue moving forward at that time. I’d like to do so now if possible ,

  47. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Joy,

    Yes, you can enter via the New Accession Training (NAT) program with a completed Family Care Plan and a waiver from CNRC.

  48. Desrae says:

    My husband just enlisted and we already have 3 kids if when he comes back from boot camp and training I end up pregnant will he be kicked out?

  49. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Desrae,

    If he is found to have fraudulently enlisted, then discharge is very possible.

  50. Colton says:

    NCCM,

    I have a son with only a birth certificate that ties me to him and never been married. There is no custody agreement, he lives with his mother, and no court ordered child support. Can I still enlist in the Navy active-duty?

  51. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Colton,

    Once you gain a custody and child support order, you should be able to process. Contact your recruiter for more details.

  52. Jay says:

    Hello,
    I am 32, with three children. Is it possible to enter the new ascension training for the reaserves with a family care plan? I have just completed the Asvab with a 72, and I am getting mixed information. Not sure if I am wasting time.

    I have utilized the search bar and the ones that closely matched would not pull up. Not sure why, but Thank you for your time.

  53. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jay,

    Effective yesterday, there has been a change to the dependency standards, specifically, the total number of dependents one can have. For the Reserve component, an unmarried or divorced applicant can have a total of three dependents; however, only two of those dependents can be minors per the new instruction.

    Sorry about the search function. I have deleted a large number of posts that are now obsolete, and it will take Google a couple of weeks to re-index.

  54. Bryan says:

    What are the new dependent requirements for enlistment? I started my enlistment and all paperwork was submitted before the change. I am married with 3 children.

    I started the recruitment process before July 1st. I’m married with 3 children. Does this now mean I am now not able to join?

  55. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Bryan,

    Yes, due to the change, you are no longer eligible with four dependents. I wish I had better news.

  56. Tom says:

    Hello

    I’m 28 married with a daughter. I am going to MEPS in 22 days but my wife is worried she may be pregnant again. It’s too early to take a test. Would this child disqualify me from joining?

    Thanks

  57. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Tom,

    Having a spouse, your wife, and two minor children (your daughter, and if pregnant, a child on the way) can receive waiver consideration. The recent change did not affect your specific situation, and you should be fine.

    If your wife has missed her cycle, it isn’t too early to take the test. Congratulations if the test is positive!

    Curious, why do you have to wait 22 days?

  58. Desrae says:

    My husband is in basic at the moment and we have 3 children

  59. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Desrae,

    That means he joined the Delayed Entry Program prior to July 1, 2021. Anyone joining the Delayed Entry Program on and after that date must meet the new standard.

  60. Rubia says:

    My brother served 7 years, honorably discharged with one 7 year old son bien while he was still in.
    He wants to reenlist, but now he’s told he needs to provide the
    sS card for his son? Soon to be ex wife giving him a hard time
    If his son was previously on the navy’s info with regards to insurance
    And the like wouldn’t the sS number be sufficient it’s all he’s missing
    And with COvid restrictions it’s taking forever to get this card.

    Thank you

  61. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Rubia,

    His service record will have to contain a copy of the card when he reenlists.

  62. jesse says:

    I am single PS member e-4. I have three children two from a previous marriage and one out of wedlock. I have no physical custody of the first two just visitation and my youngest I live with her but mom and I are not married. Would I be Ineligible to rejoin?

  63. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jesse,

    Based on what you wrote compared against the newest dependency chart, it appears you are not.

  64. Christopher says:

    Hello,
    I am 32, with three children. I was prior enlisted E-4 and have been out for two years now. I got the green light from MEPS to join but then recruiter reached out and said I do not qualify. I am divorced and do not have custody of my 2 kids from my prior marriage. I am not married and have an additional baby from recent relationship. Not sure if I am reading the new instruction correct. Yes I have 3 kids but I do not have custody of the other two children and pay Child Support in the State of Florida. Thank you!!

  65. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Christopher,

    Custody and Dependency are two different things. For joining or reenlisting after discharge, dependency is the issue (custody come into play if you are not married with children — you cannot have physical custody and go active duty as a single parent). In your case, you have three dependents. Three minor children dependents puts you over the limit.

  66. Ty says:

    How long does it take for a cnrc to be approved

  67. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Ty,

    All possible Dependency waivers are considered at the local commanding officer level. They no longer go to CNRC.

  68. Ty says:

    Ok, do you know how long it usually takes for them to give an answer, I’m very anxious and i don’t want to bug my recruiter every day. I think my paperwork was sent in last Thursday

  69. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Ty,

    Shouldn’t take more than a day if the have all the paperwork and the waiver authority is at the headquarters. Did your recruiter give you any timeline? If not, ask him; if he can give you any indication, I’d ask him daily.

  70. Ty says:

    I reached out today and she said she’s still waiting. When she told me she sent the paperwork she said she would call me later that day but it’s been a few days but i will keep checking

  71. Garcia says:

    Hey just reaching out for some answers to see if I’m qualified to join , I’m currently married with 3 girls ages 7 , 4 and 1. Do I still qualify to enlist or is that a disqualification.

  72. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Garcia,

    Effective July 1, 2021, the maximum allowed dependents for non-prior service personnel is three; with your four, you would not be eligible. I wish I had better news.

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

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