Application for Referral

If you want to make a Service complaint and don’t want to approach your chain of command directly, you can ask the Ombudsman to refer your intention to make a Service complaint.

What is a referral?

A referral is a letter from SCOAF that says you want to make a Service complaint. This will usually be sent to your chain of command or former chain of command if you are no longer serving

Please note: A referral is not a formal Service complaint and does not “stop the clock” on the time limits for making a Service complaint. If SCOAF makes a referral, it does not indicate that your complaint will be accepted for investigation as a formal Service complaint.

Who can ask for a referral?

Only current or former Service personnel can ask the Ombudsman to refer their intention to make a Service complaint.

When can’t the Ombudsman make a referral

If the incident you want to make a Service complaint about happened before 1 January 2008 and your complaint was not submitted before 31 December 2015, it is not possible to make a Service complaint now.

This is because a Service person can only make a Service Complaint if the matter they are complaining about occurred when they were subject to Service law.  Service law commenced on 1 January 2008. Prior to this, Service personnel were subject to the laws of their individual Services (Army Act 1955, Navy Discipline Act 1957 and the Air Force Act 1955.)  For incidents that occurred before 1 January 2008, personnel had until the 31 December 2015 to make a complaint. It may be possible to raise your historical complaint in another way.

Can the Ombudsman investigate my complaint?

The Ombudsman cannot investigate your complaint – it must go through the internal Service complaints process. Once a referral has been made the Ombudsman will not be involved in the handling of your complaint.

Further information about the Service complaints process can be found in JSP 831: Redress of Individual Grievances

Application for Referral

To complete the application form, you will need to open it in Adobe before filling it in. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to save the form.

How to submit your form

Double-check that you have completed all sections, signed and dated the form

Save the form to your desktop or device

Send the form to us by:

Post: Our postal address is:


PO BOX 72252,



Please retain proof of posting or use recorded delivery through Royal Mail. Please note that items signed for on delivery are not signed for by our office but staff at the post office. There is a delay between the date items are received at the PO BOX and the date they reach our office.

Email: The quickest way to send applications and documents to us is  electronically by email to our contact mailbox: Please note that our system cannot accept emails larger than 20MB. Emails that exceed the size limit will be blocked by our email system. Please send separate emails and mark each email in the subject box.

If you have any difficulty completing the form, contact our Enquiries and Referrals Team on 0300 369 0689 for assistance.

Timeframes for processing your application

2 days

Once we receive your application you will receive an acknowledgement within 2 working days.

7 days

Once your application has been processed a referral made to the relevant Service within 7 working days from the date of your acknowledgement.

Please note: It is important that we can contact you once you have submitted an application.  If we can’t contact you we may be unable to process your application or there may be delays in making a referral