Discharge rights: Joined aged over 18

Your right to leave

If this is your first time in the army, you can leave during the first THREE months but not during the first six weeks.

If you want to leave in this time, you have to give two weeks’ notice in writing.

The earliest you can hand in your notice is after the first four weeks, and the latest is the day before you have served for THREE months. Not a day later.

If you leave in the first three months then you are a civilian again and you don’t join the reserves so you are free from the army.

Applying to leave

If you have a right to leave under the rules described here, then the army has a form for you to fill in, although they’ll try to talk you out of leaving first.

If you want to avoid that, you don’t have to use the form – you can just download this letter, fill in the details, sign it, and hand it in at your CO’s office (or your parents can do that for you as long as you sign it).

But, to leave, you must hand in your notice in writing. It’s not enough to say you want to leave, even if an officer or NCO tells you that they’re dealing with it.

When you hand in your notice, the army has a legal duty to let you leave. If you don’t hand in your notice, the army might delay.

Is the army blocking your right to leave?

If you have a right to leave (as described above) and the army is telling you that you don’t, get in touch and we can suggest what to do.

Whatever the army may say, the rules on this site are correct. If you’re not sure, get in touch and we’ll point you to the regulations to prove it.

Missed your discharge window?

If this is not your first time in the army – or if it is but you don’t leave in the first three months – then you usually have no right to leave until you’ve been in the army for four years. But keep reading, because you might still have options…