The two main types of reservist are the ‘regular’ and ‘volunteer’ reserves of the armed forces. The forces for these purposes include the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. A list of significant legislation affecting reservists is given at the end of these Q&As.

Regular reservists are former full-time service people who may be still be liable for service under certain circumstances once they have left the regular forces.

Volunteer reservists are members of the Royal Naval and Royal Marines Reserves (the Maritime Reserves), the Army Reserve (formerly the Territorial Army) and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. They train and serve alongside the regular forces during their spare time, but they may also be called up (mobilised) for a period of full-time service.

When reservists can be mobilised depends on when they joined.

Reservists joining before 1 October 2014

These reservists can only be mobilised in certain circumstances, for example in response to imminent national danger, if warlike operations are in preparation or progress, or for the protection of life and property outside the UK. They can choose whether to transfer to new terms applying to reservists joining on or after 1 October 2014.

Reservists joining on or after 1 October 2014

Reservists joining on or after 1 October 2014 can be called out for any purpose for which members of the regular armed forces may be used. From 1 October 2014 the maximum period for which reservists may be mobilised increased from nine to 12 months. The 12-month period of mobilisation covers training, deployment, and recuperation after service.

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