Registering for Selective Service

Registering for Selective Service

A person making a checklist

Selective Service is the system the United States military uses to identify potential soldiers.  The government keeps a registry of all men between the ages of 18 and 25 who could be summoned to military service quickly—in a fair and random order—in the event of a national emergency.  If Congress passed a draft law, also known as a conscription act, it would probably require the military to use a lottery to identify citizens for mandatory service.  Currently, there is no draft law in effect, but Selective Service registration is still required.

If you are a male U.S. citizen or male immigrant living in the United States, you generally must register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of your 18th birthday.  Women are exempt, but all eligible young men ages 18 through 25 must be registered.

If you fail to register, you could be punished with a maximum $250,000 fine and/or five years in prison.  You must be registered to qualify for federal jobs, federal job training, and federal student financial aid.  State employment or student financial aid also requires selective service registration.  If you are an immigrant between the age of 18 and 25, you must register to remain eligible for citizenship.

You can:

  • Register online at;
  • Pick up a form at your local post office, complete it, and mail it in;
  • Mail in a completed Selective Service reminder card (a card is sent to most young men around their 18th birthdays);
  • Check the appropriate box on a Federal Student Financial Aid form; the Department of Education will then supply the necessary registration information to the Selective Service;
  • Register at your local high school; many high schools have staff members who are Selective Service Registrars; or
  • Register at any S. embassy or consular officer if you are living overseas.