GUIDE: How to Join the British Army From Foreign and Commonwealth Countries–Including the Benefits of Being A British Army Officer

9 min


This guide/article was written by Obeng, Precious Kweku–a long serving soldier in the British Army currently living in the UK. 

The British Army until recently had been recruiting from Foreign and Commonwealth countries (including Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Kenya, etc). Recruitment has been paused temporarily. There’s the likelihood that they will be reaching out to potential recruits across the globe again in the coming months if not earlier.

British Army

So what does that mean for anyone in Africa interested in enlisting and what can you do to prepare yourself in the meantime?

Well, with accurate information and good research, the right attitude and commitment you can also achieve your dream of joining the world’s most revered military organisation.

And what benefits would it be to you if you ever decided to join? Well, you’d travel the world and see some amazing places—free of charge, you will gain a tremendous amount of practicable qualifications that you can take with you anywhere in life, you will earn good money, you will get to go on some exciting adventure training in so many locations of the earth including sky diving, scuba diving, mountain climbing and abseiling, the benefits are immense and innumerable.

Before I go on any further, may I quickly say that being in any army and what’s more the British Army is not your regular and average 9 to 5 job where a daily routine is easily mapped and achieved.

Joining any military in the world is serious business and is not a decision to be made lightly. The nature of UK MoD’s engagements around the globe as well as its long standing member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) means you are usually required to travel and or be deployed anywhere in the world, countries such as Belize, Kenya, Germany, Canada, Brunei and many more are all places with British Army’s presence. It therefore takes a lot of physical robustness, mental fortitude and a can- do spirit to be able to do what is expected of you—I repeat, this is not a job for everyone.

I can’t emphasise this next point enough, integrity also happens to be one of the biggest of the British Army’s values and standards (including Courage, Discipline, Respect for Others, Loyalty and Selfless-Commitment). This is not a training or breeding ground for dishonest and insincere people, if you can’t be trusted by your own words and be an integral team player you can’t be trusted to do anything else. The man, or woman, standing next to you on operations and even the battlefield should be able to trust the soldier next to them, it does not matter whether they are homosexuals, religious, atheist or a different ethnicity and or even colour.

SO HOW DO I JOIN?

Find below the British Army’s working policy on recruitment from the commonwealth. This is the first point of call for anyone interested in enlisting. It is absolutely imperative that you read this first.

LINK: https://apply.army.mod.uk/how-to-join/can-i-join/nationality

The army has a rolling basis recruitment programme when it is active for commonwealth applicants all year round, till spaces allocated are filled up.

Simply put, it is first come first serve. This limited annual quota gets filled up very quickly, the quicker you start the application once you hear they are accepting online applications the better it is for you.

AND WHAT JOB ROLES ARE AVAILABLE

There are several dozen jobs across the many corps of the British Army.

The popular ones are the Infantry Regiments, Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, The Royal Army Medical Corps, Household Calvary, Royal Corps of Signals, The Royal Artillery, and many more. Each of these ‘cap badges’ have subdivisions and are usually broken down into the class of jobs that they do. For example, a trained chef or supply and logistics specialist from the Royal Logistic Corps can be attached to an infantry unit. There is heavy interdependence (moving parts) on different units to get the ultimate job done.

Find below the link to the many jobs roles currently been recruited for and are available at this time.

LINK: https://apply.army.mod.uk/roles

AND WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE ENTRY REQUIREMENTS DO THEY ASK FOR

Each job role has specific requirements, so to be sure what they are asking for do check them out before applying to avoid delays and or disqualifications. If in doubt, contact them via online chat on Facebook or the recruitment page on their website.

Age: Anyone, male or female, between the ages of 18 and 36 can enlist (some jobs have younger age limit. Check first.

Qualifications: A decent pass in a GCSE equivalent education (such as WAEC, SSCE or WASSCE, B-Tech, City and Guild, etc.) would usually suffice. Certain technical and specialised jobs such as nursing, vet services, etc. would usually need a higher educational qualification (such as postgraduate degrees and certifications).

Jobs in the infantry however do not require any formal education. The ability to read and understand English is however imperative.

AND THE BIGGEST OF THEM ALL—YOUR PHYSICAL AND MEDICAL FITNESS

You must be fit at all times, army fitness is not just to shred excess weight, or going to the gym to build packs, or to show off, it is for your own operational effectiveness and that of others.

A fit soldier is an asset to any military organisation. Simple techniques and exercises that can be incorporated into a daily routine are Running/Jogging/ Upper body strength exercises (press ups, sit ups, heave ups, etc.) Weight training (nothing heavy). Know that no matter how hard you train, you would never be prepared enough for what lies ahead, you can only shape your physical body and mental stamina to an optimum level.

Getting yourself in top condition to join the Army also includes focusing on your diet. Eating well will help you feel more energised and reach your fitness goals. There are loads of guides to follow to get inspired about eating well on the British Army website. This will also help you stay on track to have a healthy Body Mass Index – which you will need to pass during physical assessment.

Aside a physical assessment there is a mandatory medical assessment which is a pass or fail. Here, they’d check your heart for any conditions, your hearing, sight, musco-skeletal build, your lungs, amongst many other things. This is a very thorough exam involving trained army doctors and consultants. There are also other things to bear in mind that can lead to automatic disqualifications. Diseases and conditions that can hinder your prospect includes

but not limited to Hepatitis, HIV-AIDS, Epilepsy, High Blood Pressure, Sickle Cell Disease (full blown carrier or SS and not trait). Find below a detailed list of medical conditions and diseases.

LINK: https://apply.army.mod.uk/how-to-join/can-i-join/medical

READY TO JOIN? APPLY ASAP WHEN RECRUITMENT OPENS

The link below allows you access to the army registration and enlistment portal. They are CURRENTLY NOT taking applications from the Commonwealth so please don’t bother as the application if tempted will bounce.

LINK: https://apply.army.mod.uk

After registering your interest, you should receive a response within 4 to 6 weeks, maybe more, depending how busy they may be. You would be assigned a personal recruitment support called ‘Candidate Support Manager’. He or she would be your point of contact and would guide you through the remainder of the process mostly via emails and the army portal. I would also add here that every applicant must know someone already living the U.K and is a legal or permanent residence who’d vouch for you as a ‘sponsor’, this is a requirement. Sponsor here is loosely used and has nothing to do with any financial commitment to you in this case and or any such matters. Just someone who’d say they know you and in most cases would be willing to accommodate you till training starts.

Life in the U.K is very expensive, the British Pound Sterling is one of the most valued currencies in the world if not the first, anyone travelling here for a minimum of six months regardless of whether they are here to join the army or not is usually advised to come financially prepared to avoid any unexpected situations and surprises. If you ever end up being a burden on tax payer’s money you can be deported and never be allowed back. Signing on with the British Army means you commit to a minimum of twelve years of service with the first four years been mandatory, if you ever decide to quit you would be able to do so at the end of your fourth towards your fifth year point.

You will also have the opportunity to apply for British Citizenship at a fee through the UK Home Office at your fifth year/point in the army.

READY TO TRAVEL TO THE UK? GET IMMIGRATION ADVICE! APPLY FOR A VISA!

For those who want to know how the British Army Pay system is structured. This is the current army rates of pay (for soldier rank private up to Warrant Officers)

Recruits (in initial training); £15,985 GBP a year as you said for the young man who just passed his initial training. Mind you, that 15,000 GBP is going to jump straight to 20,400 GBP now that he has passed out.

Private soldiers who just completed their initial training and are considered class one operators will take annual gross of £20,400 GBP a year (this amount will rise to the highest supplement level at the end of the private soldier wages at £24,785 GBP)

Lance Corporal: £27,326 GBP a year (will rise through the 4 supplement levels to 32,009 GBP at the highest peak of their rank/duties)
Corporal: £31,869 GBP a year (will rise to 37,875 GBP)
Sergeant: £35,853 GBP a year (will rise to 44,365 GBP)
Staff Sergeant: 40,358 GBP (will rise to 48,407 GBP)
Warrant Officer (Class 2): 43,896 GBP (will rise to 51,275 GBP)
Warrant Officer (Class 1): 49,842 GBP (will rise to 54,262 GBP)

Each year, everyone in the Army receives a pay rise, and each rank has a pay band – so you’ll be rewarded as one progresses in the rank system.
Some Army jobs such as army nurses, animal handlers, anti-bomb and explosives squad, dentist or music and bands men and hygienist pay are way higher than the standard rate of pay. These are typically regarded as ‘specialist roles’ and comes with its many bonuses.

Mind you, the rates of pay is just what is stated on paper, soldiers have the opportunity to earn what is called ‘Long Separation Allowance’ which is accumulated (at a minimum of ) when one deploys on field exercises, operations and many more. There is also the ‘Long Overseas Allowance’ (calculated at a minimum of ) when one deploys overseas to places such as Canada, Kenya, etc.

Below are the Perks and Freebies of being a soldier;

ADVENTUROUS TRAINING

There are very many pursuits that the Army does, and most give you extra opportunities to travel to new and interesting places around the world. Some adventurous training include but not limited to skydiving, scuba diving, skiing, mountain climbing and mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking and white water rafting, dozens more.

HEALTHCARE

Every soldier receives free medical and dental care. Usually you’ll be treated by the Army medical team at a local army base, but if needed you’ll be referred for further treatment at a specialist clinic or a consultant.

PAID LEAVE

You’ll get 30 days of annual leave, plus most UK bank holidays. If you’ve been on operations, you’ll get extra time off on your return too.

PENSION

The Army will pay all of the contributions towards your pension. If you serve for more than 20 years, you’ll also qualify for a tax-free lump sum from the age of 40.

SKILLS FOR LIFE

You’ll be given plenty of additional training to help you develop in your job – but also skills that you can transfer to a civilian career if you choose to leave.

FAMILY JOINING YOU in the UK

If you are married or when you marry, your spouse and family (children) will be able to join you in the UK–as you are a British Army officer.

FACILITIES

Not only will you enjoy subsidised food and lodgings in the Army, but you’ll also have free access to gym and sports facilities.

On top of the many financial benefits and opportunities that you’ll receive, you’ll get to enhance and develop your professional qualifications, giving you transferrable skills that are recognised and respected by civilian employers.

For anyone who is under the impression that these young men are being swindled, these rates of pay are all over the Internet under the Freedom of Information Act, nobody has time to hide such things in the army as is done perhaps in Ghana in many public and private institutions. Any potential recruit would therefore have known or would come to learn with time during training what they’re getting themselves into.

Let’s wish these men and women well for taking the bold step and making use of the opportunities that we all know would ordinarily not have been possible in most instances at where they have come from, which includes Ghana

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Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, Esq

Over the years, I have helped several people to secure visas to come to the UK for their British Army Assessment to join the Army.

I am a UK-trained and based qualified lawyer/solicitor. I only help in legal representation for those who have been recruited by the British Army or Royal Navy to come to the U.K. for their assessment–by representing them in their applications for the right visa.

I do not deal with making an application to the British Army or Royal Navy for recruitment.

In fact, I have intentionally decided not to even bother with knowing the processes of the recruitment–to avoid being derailed from my expertise or actual work by potential clients or clients.

I can only point people who are interested in the British Army or the Royal Navy to their websites for them to seek their own recruitment.  The above article has almost all the information you need to help you.

Once you have received a letter from the British Army or Royal Navy, inviting you for an Assessment in the UK which you need a visitor’s visa to attend, that is when you contact me, or when I can be of legal help.

Because a lot of people want to know about the process and benefits of joining the British Army, I asked a friend (also from Ghana) who has been serving in the Army for many years to provide the above information for those interested.

If you have any question, you can leave it under this post.

If you have received a letter from the British Army or Royal Navy, inviting you for an Assessment in the UK or have been refused a visa to come to the UK for an Assessement, and you need legal representation in securing a visa to come to the UK or overturning a refusal, contact me via Whatsapp/Direct Call: +447837576037 or E-mail: [email protected] 


Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri,Esq
I am Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, a lawyer, a thinker, a writer and something like a legal polymath based in the United Kingdom; I hold 2 Master’s degrees in Law; International Human Rights Law (LL.M) and Legal Practice Course (LL.M) from University of Leicester and Nottingham Law School--and also a degree in Law (LL.B). I currently work at Adukus Solicitors in London--where I use my legal brains to kick real ass, for the good of my clients and humanity. Contact: [email protected] [email protected]