Selective Service

Learn how a military draft works and find out if and how you need to register for Selective Service.

The Draft

A draft is the mandatory enrollment of individuals into the armed forces. The United States military has been all-volunteer since 1973. But the government maintains the ability to reinstate the draft in case of a national emergency. The Selective Service System is the agency that registers men and is responsible for running a draft.

Who Must Register with Selective Service

  • Almost all men age 18-25 who are U.S. citizens or are immigrants living in the U.S. are required to be registered with Selective Service. U.S. law calls for citizens to register within 30 days of turning 18 and immigrants to register within 30 days of arriving in the U.S.

  • Men in the U.S. on student, visitor, or diplomatic visas and women are not required to register. For other exemptions and for transgender people, see the Who Must Register chart.

How to Register with the Selective Service System

There are several ways to register with Selective Service. You can:

  • Register online

  • Print out the registration form, complete it, and mail it to the address on the form

  • Get a registration form at the post office, complete it, and mail it in

  • Complete the reminder mail back card if you receive one in the mail around your 18th birthday

  • Register while you are applying for federal student aid. Check “Register Me” in block 22 of the application

  • Find out if your high school has a teacher or staff member designated as a Selective Service registrar who can help

  • Get help from your nearest U.S. embassy or consular office if you’re a U.S. citizen living overseas

Check Your Selective Service Registration

Proof of Registration

You will receive a letter in the mail with your Selective Service registration card confirming that you’re registered. If you registered by mail, you should receive the letter in about 30 to 90 days. If you registered online, you should receive it within three weeks. The letter and card are your Selective Service proof of registration.

If you don’t receive the letter and card within 90 days, or if you need a replacement card, call 1-847-688-6888 and follow the prompts. Choose the option for receiving your own Selective Service number.

You are required to keep your registration information up-to-date until you turn 26. If there is an error on your registration card, or if you move or change your name, contact the Selective Service System to correct or update your registration.

What Happens After You Register with Selective Service

Other than receiving your proof of registration, nothing happens unless there’s a situation requiring a draft.

If Congress and the President authorize a draft:

  • Men age 18-25 who are registered with the Selective Service System will be called in a sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth

  • They'll be examined for mental, physical, and moral fitness for military service

  • They'll either be deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the armed forces

What Happens If You Don’t Register for Selective Service

If you are required to register and you don’t, you will not be eligible for federal student aid, federal job training, or a federal job. You may be prosecuted and face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or jail time of up to five years. If you’re an immigrant to the U.S., you will not be eligible for citizenship.

If you never registered and are being denied federal student aid, job training, a federal job, or citizenship, you may be able to qualify if you didn't intentionally avoid registering. If you can show through a “preponderance of evidence” that your failure to register with Selective Service was not knowing or willful, your benefit may not be denied.

Get More Information or Contact the Selective Service System

Find answers to frequently asked registration and draft questions on the Selective Service System’s FAQ page. To contact the Selective Service System, call 1-847-688-6888 or toll-free 1-888-655-1825 Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM ET.

You can also email: DMCSupport@sss.gov or DMCEspanol@sss.gov (Spanish). Customer service representatives will not be able to address issues requiring personally identifiable information, such as a person’s Social Security number, date of birth, or address through email.

Share This Page:

Back to Top

Do you need help?

Ask us any question about the U.S. government for free. We'll get you the answer or tell you where to find it.

What you think matters!

Last Updated: September 27, 2018