32. Have you previously served in the UK Armed Forces?

Why we ask this question

Your answer helps your community by providing the information that will help better support those who have served in the UK Armed Forces but have now left. Local and central government, businesses and charitable organisations will use this information to meet their commitments made under the Armed Forces Covenant. This is a promise by the nation making sure that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are not disadvantaged.

This is the first time the census in England and Wales has asked this question.

If you're a current serving member or active member of the UK Armed Forces, please tick "No".

Tick "Yes..." if you've previously served in one or more of the following:

Regular Armed Forces

Select "Yes, previously served in Regular Armed Forces" if you've served in any of the following:

  • Royal Navy Regular
  • Royal Marines Regular
  • British Army Regular
  • Royal Air Force Regular
  • National Service
  • Gurkhas
  • Ulster Defence Regiment
  • Royal Irish Rangers
  • Royal Irish Regiment

This list is not exhaustive.

Reserve Armed Forces

Select "Yes, previously served in Reserve Armed Forces" if you've served in any of the following:

  • Full Time Reserve Service
  • Part Time Reserve Service
  • Royal Naval Reserve
  • Women's Royal Naval Service
  • Royal Marines Reserve
  • Royal Fleet Reserve
  • Royal Fleet Auxiliary
  • Royal Navy Sponsored Reserve
  • Army Reserve
  • Territorial Army
  • Auxiliary Territorial Service
  • Army Sponsored Reserve
  • Ulster Defence Regiment
  • Royal Irish Rangers
  • Royal Irish Regiment
  • Royal Air Force Reserve
  • Royal Air Force Sponsored Reserve
  • RAF Reserve of Officers
  • RAF Reserve of Ranks
  • Royal Auxiliary Air Force
  • Women's Auxiliary Air Force
  • Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
  • Royal Air Force Sponsored Reserve
  • Called-out Reservists
  • Home Guard

Also select this option if you served as a merchant mariner and qualified for a Merchant Navy Medal. See more information about the operations qualifying for a Merchant Navy Medal.

This list is not exhaustive.

National Service

National service includes both wartime and peacetime conscription and was in force between 1939 and 1963. As part of the National Service Act 1948, healthy males aged between 18 and 30 years of age, from 1 January 1949, were expected to serve in the Armed Forces for 18 months (increased to two years during the Korean War, 1950-53), and remain on the reserve list for four years.

National Service ended gradually from 1960. Call-ups formally ended on 31 December 1960, and the last National Servicemen left the Armed Forces in May 1963.

If you served under national service, through either wartime or peacetime conscription, please select "Yes, previously served in Regular Armed Forces".

You should also tick "Yes..." if you've participated in basic training, even if you didn't complete it.

For all other services, including foreign armed forces, tick "No".

Tick "No" if your only service was as a cadet. If you're not sure whether to count your service, check the list of organisations that are not included.

List of organisations that you should not count
  • Royal Air Force Training Corps
  • Royal Air Force Air Experience Flight
  • Royal Air Force Volunteer Gliding Schools
  • Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme
  • Combined Cadet Force
  • Army Cadet Force
  • Cadet Force Adult Volunteers
  • Sea Cadet Instructors or Students
  • University Royal Naval Units
  • University Air Squadrons
  • Air Cadets
Important information:

Answering for someone else

If you're answering on behalf of someone else, where possible you should ask them how they would answer. If they're away, answer as best you can.