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BAFA have been made aware of a situation regarding international transfers that impacts on a number of clubs and individuals – primarily across the contact leagues. This requires your prompt attention by 10pm Sunday 15 May to ensure that any international players you may have on your roster who have joined you from the BUCS league, or who are US citizens, remain eligible for competition.

What’s happening?
Some non-UK national players who have previously been registered to participate in the BUCS league and who then registered with National Leagues teams for this season may not have completed the required international transfer or self-declaration. This may also apply to US nationals who moved to the UK for study or work and joined National Leagues teams directly too,

Why has this happened?
We have investigated this situation fully and do not believe there has been any intentional wrongdoing. Teams reviewed have otherwise exemplary records relating to processing international transfers for players who may have played in Europe and have not sought to conceal the nationality or status of the players involved in any way.

We believe this has this has happened due to a genuine lack of understanding, or awareness of the required process – with an incorrect assumption made that any required transfers would already have been done by BUCS or were not required for US citizens as they have not previously played in Europe. In most cases, these individuals will have joined National Leagues teams following play in a UK institution. This highlights an education and communication gap where we need to improve as an NGB and make the required international processes more transparent, easy to find and user friendly.

What are you doing to resolve the situation? Will players be suspended, or clubs penalised?
We have appraised IFAF, who were swift to respond and cooperate with us on a proposal to address our issue. They have approved our request to offer a short amnesty period between now and 10pm Sunday 15 May to allow clubs to declare any players who may not have completed the requird transfer, and then assist them to complete the required process correctly.

As it is likely that the situation impacts a number of players and clubs across the National Leagues – including service personnel and potentially a number of young players at U16 and U19 level – we do not believe suspending our non-UK national members at this time aligns with our key beliefs of being inclusive and progressive, and doing the right thing. Therefore, our ruling is that players will remain eligible to participate in fixtures this weekend during the agreed amnesty period provided all other membership requirements have been met. This has also been approved at BAFA board level.

Clubs who are found to have players who have not completed the required process will receive a written notice and a reminder of their obligations on international transfers and any subsequent issues that emerge relating to international transfers following the amnesty period will be subject to full disciplinary action.

Will playing against any individual who has not completed the required international transfer invalidate our insurance as a team, or as coaches or players?
No. We can confirm in this instance, during the amnesty period, we have agreed that this does not impact on the insurance status of registered BAFA members.

What do I need to do as a club?
Please review your roster. If you have any non-UK nationals who joined you this season from the BUCS league and / or are US citizens and who have previously played for another international federation of American Football, please ask if they have completed the required international transfer or provide us with their details so we can check.

This includes any US or Canadian nationals who may have played at high school, college, semi-pro or professional level. If you have players who have not completed the required international transfer, please notify us at with the name, dob, last non-UK team / institution played for, when they last played for that team or institution, and email address of any players concerned, no later than 10pm on Sunday 15 May. If you have multiple players this applies to, you can provide this information on a spreadsheet.

We will then work with USA Football, IFAF and any other federations to complete the required international transfers process or ask for self-declarations to be submitted as appropriate. This should make sure everything is in order ahead of games scheduled for the weekend of 21/22 May.

How are you going to make sure this won’t happen again?
Over the coming week we will be updating our competition rules, signposting IFAF regulations to make international transfer guidelines easier to find and emailing clubs directly to remind them what they need to do. We will also issue reminders ahead of the start of every National Leagues season going forward and will be opening a dialogue with BUCS to improve communication relating to this topic. IFAF also have plans to move international transfers online in the future, which will help further smooth the process.

If you have any questions, please email

You can find an FAQ below containing more information below.


What are the rules on international transfers?
If a player has been previously registered with another federation, they must complete an international transfer form and submit it to request to join BAFA.  This includes any US or Canadian nationals who may have played at high school, college, semi-pro or professional level.

A transfer must be completed before registering with a BAFA National Leagues team. This process usually takes up to five working days from submission. If an individual has not held a licence to play for any IFAF member federation, USA Football or Football Canada in the past two years, they may complete a self-declaration form which is a swifter and less formal process.

You can find the IFAF regulations detailing international transfer requirements here –

You can find our competition rules for contact American football here –

You can find our competition rules for flag American football here –

Why weren’t these transfers completed when the player registered with BUCS?
BUCS does not currently require international transfers to be completed for players in the university American football league.

 How many teams and players are affected?
A number of teams and individual have already been directly highlighted to us, but we are using this amnesty to remind clubs of their obligation to check the status of any members registered with them this season and completed if required.

Are visas an issue here?
No – there are no issues identified with residency for non-UK nationals who are checked via our JustGo registration system to make sure the appropriate documentation is in place.

What about UK national players in the BUCS league who may have played in Europe last summer, then returned to their BUCS team, then joined our club after that point?
An international transfer is still required from their European federation and BAFA. We strongly encourage clubs to use this amnesty to flag any players on their roster that this also applies to and address the situation promptly. If we become aware of any players (and their club) that this situation applies to and who are not declared by the end of the amnesty period (10pm Sunday 15 May) they will be subject to disciplinary processes, as will the club.

What about US Forces personnel who may be playing in the UK? Are they exempt?
US Forces personnel are not exempt from this process, but in the majority of cases will only be required to complete a self-declaration form.

Why are international transfers needed?
These allow us to make sure that individuals joining us from other federations are in good standing and do not have debt, bans or other disciplinary issues with their previous federation.

Are international transfers needed for coaches?
No. But they would be required if the individual changes their status to become a player / coach.

Why didn’t you check for this issue before?
Our registration system cannot tell who has previously played with BUCS and / or whether a non-UK national player has played the sport before. We rely on clubs to follow our guidelines on what is required, however, we fully acknowledge that this process is not as clear or obvious as it should be and we are taking steps to address this. We will also issue reminders ahead of the start of every National Leagues season going forward.