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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 an act of Congress could still 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 ages 18-25 who are U.S. citizens or are immigrants living in the U.S. are required to register with Selective Service. Citizens must register within 30 days of turning 18. Immigrants must register within 30 days of arriving in the U.S.

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

Register with the Selective Service System 

Check Your Selective Service Registration

You’ll receive a letter in the mail with your Selective Service registration card within 90 days of registering.  The letter and card are your Selective Service proof of registration.

If you don’t receive the letter and card within 90 days, 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. Contact the Selective Service System if:

  • There is an error on your registration card

  • If you move or change your name

If you’ve lost your registration card, use the letter that came with it to show proof of registration. You can get a copy of the letter by completing this Verify Registration form. 

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:

  • The Selective Service System will start calling registered men ages 18-25 for duty. The men will be called in a sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth.

  • The men will be examined for mental, physical, and moral fitness for military service.

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

What Happens If You Don’t Register for Selective Service

If you are required to register and you do not, you will not be eligible for state-based student aid in many states, federal job training, or a federal job. You may be prosecuted and face a fine of up to $250,000 and 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 or state benefits, you may still be able to get them. To do so, you must provide evidence that you did not intentionally avoid registering.

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.

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Last Updated: November 17, 2021