It is the Law
Virtually all male U.S. citizens, regardless of where they live, and male immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, residing in the United States, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.
The law says men must register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. That means men are required to register with Selective Service sometime during the 30 days before their 18th birthday, their 18th birthday, and the following 29 days after their 18th birthday – that is a 60-day registration period.
Men who do not register with Selective Service within the 60-day window are technically in violation of the law and should register as soon as possible. Late registrations are accepted up to the 26th birthday. However, once a man reaches his 26th birthday and still has not registered with Selective Service, it is too late!
It’s important to know that even though a man is registered, he will not automatically be inducted into the military. Registering with Selective Service does not mean you are joining the military.
In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in a sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. Then, they would be examined for mental, physical, and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the Armed Forces.
Reasons to Register
- Registration is the Law — A man’s only duty right now under the Military Selective Service Act is to register at age 18 and then to let Selective Service know within 10 days of any changes in the information he provided on his registration form until he turns 26 years old.
- Fairness and Equity — By registering all eligible men, Selective Service ensures a fair and equitable draft, if ever required. However, there has not been a draft since 1973.
- Insurance for the Nation — By registering, a man’s voluntary participation helps provide a hedge against unforeseen threats. It is a relatively low-cost insurance policy for our nation.
- Civic Duty — It’s your responsibility to ensure that young men 18 through 25 understand the law so they can make an informed decision about registration compliance. Currently, more than 90 percent of eligible young men are registered. It’s a civic duty of every young man to comply with the law.
- Protect Eligibility for Future Benefits — It’s what a man’s got to do. By registering, a young man stays eligible for jobs, college loans and grants, job training, driver’s license in most states, and U.S. citizenship for immigrant men.
Benefits of Registering and the Penalties for Failing to Register
For more information on the benefits linked to registration, as well as what the penalties are for failing to register with the Selective Service System, see BENEFITS AND PENALTIES.
Legislation Supporting Registration
Many states have passed legislation that supports the Selective Service registration requirement. Generally, these state laws require that a man be registered (or prove he is exempt from the requirement) before he can receive state student financial assistance or be eligible for state government jobs. For more information, see our website for STATE - COMMONWEALTH LEGISLATION.