The following is summarized from the Selective Service System website:

WHO MUST REGISTER: Almost all male United States (U.S.) citizens, and male noncitizens living in the U.S., who are 18 to 25 years old, are required to register with Selective Service. Those men who must register include noncitizens who are legal permanent residents, illegal immigrants, and refugees, dual nationals of the U.S. and another country, regardless of where they live, disabled men who can leave their homes and move about independently, and members of the National Guard and Reserves who are not on full-time active duty. Failure to register or otherwise comply with the Military Selective Service Act is, upon conviction, punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment for up to five years, or both. In addition, federal and certain state laws require registration as a prerequisite for obtaining student financial aid, job training, government employment, and U.S. naturalization.

WHO DOES NOT NEED TO REGISTER: There are exemptions for Selective Service Registration. Those who do not need to register include disabled men who cannot leave their homes and move about independently, men who are in the U.S. on student or visitor visas or are part of a diplomatic trade mission and their families, men who are committed in hospitals, mental institutions, or prisons, or men serving in the military on full-time active duty or attending service academies. They must register if they leave these institutions before their 26th birthday.

Note from the Selective Service System website:  "Even though the Secretary of Defense has decided to allow women in combat jobs, the law has not been changed to include this.  Consequently, only men are currently required to register by law with Selective Service during ages 18 thru 25.  Women still do not register."

HOW TO REGISTER: Selective Service registration forms are available at any Post Office. The form asks for the registrant’s full name, address, date of birth, telephone number, Social Security number (if the registrant has one), and signature. The registrant signs in the presence of a postal clerk and shows an I.D. such as a birth certificate or driver’s license. The post office will send the form to Selective Service. Other ways to register include: on-line registration at the Selective Service System website:; filling out and mailing a Reminder Mailback Card sent to many young men around the time of their 18th birthday; or having a staff member or teacher register male students at their high school.
Note: The Selective Service System is now accepting early registration materials from men who are at least 17 years and 3 months old. The materials are kept on file and will automatically be processed when the registrant is within 30 days of his 18th birthday.

PROOF OF REGISTRATION: A registration acknowledgment card will arrive in the mail about 30 to 90 days after the registrant sends in his registration card. If the registration was done on-line, the acknowledgment card will be sent within two weeks. Acknowledgment cards not received within 90 days of registration or replacements for acknowledgment cards can be obtained by contacting Selective Service. Any changes in information provided on the registration forms, such as a change of address, must be reported to Selective Service within ten days. Changes must be reported until January 1st of the registrant’s 26th birthday. Change of address forms can be obtained at the post office or by calling Selective Service.


Men who are required to register with Selective Service and who may be subject to a possible military draft may seek to file for status as a conscientious objector. According to the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (, the legal definition of a conscientious objector is "A person who objects to participation in all forms of war, and whose belief is based on a religious, moral or ethical belief system".
At the time of receiving a notice finding that the person is qualified for military service, he can make a claim to the Selective Service System ( for classification as a Conscientious Objector.  A local board will decide a person's CO status based on evidence presented at a hearing.  The applicant can present written documentation and appearances by people who can attest to his beliefs. A local board's decision can be appealed to a Selective Service District Appeal Board.
Conscientious Objectors opposed to serving in the military during a draft will be placed in an alternative service program.  The program matches CO's with employers in areas such as conservation, caring for children or seniors, education, or health care.  Length of service in the program will equal the length of time that the CO would have spent in the military, usually 2 years.


Penalties for failing to register for Selective Service may include fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment up to five years. These penalties are unlikely to be enforced, but failing to register could also make you ineligible for federal student financial aid, federal employment, job training, or U.S. naturalization. Certain states may also bar student aid or government employment for failure to register with Selective Service. Organizations such as the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors and the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors ( can provide further information for men between the ages of 18 and 25 who face Selective Service registration, but object to participating in a possible future military draft or war.

Search by agency name: Selective Service System

SOURCE:Selective Service System website;Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors website; The National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors website