How Foreigners Can Join The British Armed Forces


The military of the United Kingdom (UK) are The British Armed Forces which are tasked with defense of the country, its overseas territories and the Crown dependencies; as well as promoting UK's interests, supporting international peacekeeping efforts and providing humanitarian  aid. They consist of the British Army, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines.

The United Kingdom's military primarily recruits UK citizens but however, foreign nationals from certain countries can also recruited into the British Armed Forces. Foreign recruits have had a long and distinguished history of serving Britain in its armed forces and have proved to be brave in the battle field. During the First and Second World wars and even in recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, foreign nationals recruited into the British Armed Forces have fought for the Queen and Country.

For foreigners to be recruited into The British Armed Forces, they should be citizens of the following countries; Republic of Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, Nepal and The Commonwealth of Nations, which is an intergovernmental organization of 53 independent Countries that were mostly colonies and territories of the former British Empire. 

On 11 July 2013, the UK Government announced that foreign nationals from the Commonwealth countries who wish to join the British Armed Forces (Regulars), will need to demonstrate that they have lived in the United Kingdom for the last five years, with no single period of absence in excess of 180 days (6 months) before being allowed to sign up. Commonwealth recruits to the Reserves will be required to have indefinite leave to remain in the UK in addition to the 5 year residency requirement.

Zelipha Mbugua from Kenya joined British Army
Bermuda Regiment in 2011

The 5-year UK residency requirement allowing Commonwealth citizens to join British Armed Forces had previously been scrapped in 1998 but was reintroduced again in 2013 because Britain is reducing the size of her military. This requirement does not affect recruits from Malta, Cyprus and The Republic of Ireland. Nepalese citizens are recruited from Nepal to join the British Armed Forces in the Brigade of Gurkhas.