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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Armed forces on active service: meaning of armed forces

Armed forces means any of the armed forces of the Crown, IHTA84/S154(2).  This was extended to civilians subject to service discipline within the meaning of the Armed Services Act 2006 with effect from 31 October 2009.

IHTA84/S154(3) provides that for any time before 28 July 1981 (the date of the passing for the Armed Forces Act 1981) the armed forces of the Crown includes any person of the description listed in FA75/Sch7/Para1(3) being a

  • member of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service or any reserve thereof,
  • member of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service or any reserve thereof,
  • member of the Territorial Army Nursing Service,
  • member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service or any reserve thereof,
  • woman medical or dental practitioner serving in the Royal Navy or any naval reserve,
  • member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service,
  • woman employed with the Royal Army Medical Corps or the Royal Army Dental Corps with relative rank as an Officer,
  • member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force,
  • women employed with the Medical Branch or the Dental Branch of the Royal Air Force with relative rank as an Officer, or
  • member of the Voluntary Aid Detachments employed under the Admiralty, Army Council, Air Council or Defence Council.


The Women’s Services listed above have been assimilated by the Armed Forces Act 1981, so that from 28 July 1981 members of those bodies fall within the general description of armed forces of the Crown.  Exemption is available where the injury or disease occurred during membership or employment in the service concerned before it was assimilated. Service with the armed forces of the Dominions and Colonies (but not with the forces of the Republics associated with the British Commonwealth) may also qualify for exemption.