Get a copy of military service records

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Apply for the records of someone who's deceased

You can apply for a copy of someone else’s service records if any of the following are true:

  • you were their immediate next of kin when they died, for example their spouse, parent or child
  • you have a family or general research interest - you’ll only have access to limited information if they died less than 25 years ago, unless you’ve got consent from their immediate next of kin

You can apply for records if they were in the Royal Navy (including Royal Marines), British Army, Royal Air Force (RAF) or Home Guard.

If you’re acting on behalf of the person, for example you have lasting power of attorney, follow the instructions for applying for your own records.

What information you’ll get

Service records date from:

  • 1750 for Foot Guards (not including Scots Guards)
  • 1920 for the RAF
  • January 1921 for British Army soldiers if their service ended after January 1921
  • April 1922 for British Army officers if their service ended after April 1922
  • 1926 for Royal Navy including Royal Marines

Each service record may include:

  • surname, first name, service number, rank and regiment or corps
  • place and date of birth
  • date they joined and left the armed forces
  • date of death, if they died in service
  • good conduct medals
  • details about their career, for example the units they served in

You can only get details about their career 25 years after the date they died unless you have consent from their immediate next of kin.

In some cases little or no information is available about someone’s military service. For example, Home Guard records may only include their personal details from when they enlisted.

Your request might be refused if it could harm the security or operations of the armed forces.

How to apply

You can apply online if the deceased person was in the RAF.

For records from all other military services you need to apply by post.

You can also apply by post for RAF records if you cannot use the online service.

It costs £30 for each record, which is non-refundable. There’s no fee if you were the person’s spouse or civil partner at the time of their death, or a parent if there was no spouse or civil partner.

What you’ll need

You need to know the person’s full name and date of birth. If you have the person’s service number, this can be used to find the correct record quicker.

You’ll also need a copy of the person’s death certificate. If you do not have the death certificate, you can order a copy or provide a declaration of a presumed death.

You do not need a copy of the death certificate if the person died in service or was born more than 116 years ago.

Apply online

You can currently only use the online service to apply for records for someone who was in the RAF.

You can apply online if any of the following are true:

  • you’re the person’s immediate next of kin
  • the person died more than 25 years ago
  • the person died less than 25 years ago but you only want basic information about them - for example, the date they joined and left the armed forces

To apply online, you’ll need a:

  • digital copy of the death certificate of the person you’re requesting the records of in the correct format (PDF, JPG or PNG)
  • debit or credit card

You will not get the record as soon as you have applied online. Your request will be sent to the relevant military service.

Start now

Apply by post

You can apply by post if any of the following are true:

  • you’re their immediate next of kin
  • the person died more than 25 years ago
  • you have the consent from the immediate next of kin
  • you do not have the consent from the immediate next of kin and would like limited information only

Download and fill in a request for information form. If your request is for a Home Guards record, fill in the Home Guard form only. Otherwise, the form you need depends on whether you’re the deceased person’s next of kin or not.

Download and fill in a search form. The form you need depends on which military service the person was in.

Send both forms, with the £30 fee for each separate service record, and any supporting documents (for example a death certificate) to the address on the search form.

You can pay by cheque or postal order - or by banker’s draft or international money order if you’re overseas.

After you’ve applied

The relevant military service will confirm they’ve received your application. It can take several months for it to be dealt with. The records will be sent by post unless they cannot be found or shared.

You can find out what information the MOD provides through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.