Last updated
25 Jan 2022

Have you previously served in the UK Armed Forces?

Why is this question asked?

Your answer to this question helps your community by providing the information needed to support people who served in the UK Armed Forces but have now left. Councils, government and third sector organisations use this information to carry out their commitments made under the Armed Forces Covenant. This is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are not disadvantaged.

This is the first time this question has been asked in Scotland.

How do I answer this question?

If you are a current serving member or active member of the Armed Forces, please select ‘No’.

Select ‘Yes’ if you have previously served in one or more of the following:

  • Regular Armed Forces
  • Reserve Armed Forces
  • National Service

What is National Service?

National Service as peacetime conscription was formulated in the National Service Act 1948. From 1 January 1949, healthy males, aged between 18 and 30 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 are unsure, use this list to help you decide:


Select ‘Yes, previously served in Regular Armed Forces’ if you have 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


Select ‘Yes, previously served in Reserve Armed Forces’ if you have 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 choose 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.

For all other services, including foreign armed forces, select ‘No’.

Select ‘No’ if you have only served in any of the following:

  • 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

Who should answer this question?

This question should be answered for everybody who is aged 16 or over.


Your census return will be kept secure and will be confidential for 100 years.

It is against the law for anybody who works on the census to make public any personal details from the census during the 100 year period.

You can find out more about how we store and use information.


Is this page useful?

Do not include personal information or contact information. Please note that we will not respond directly to any feedback sent from this page. We will use this information to improve our service.