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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

You only need a Status Information Letter (SIL) if you did not register and are between the age of 26 and 31. If you are 31 or older, no SIL is required. If you are under 26, you are required to register within 30 days of the entering the U.S., or before you turn 26.

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Letter for Men 31 or Older

The Military Selective Service Act, as it is written, only authorizes the registration of “male persons”. In order for the Selective Service to be authorized to register women, Congress would have to pass legislation amending the current law.

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Selective Service received your name from one of several lists used to identify people who may be eligible to register, including lists from the following:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act or Job Corps Program
  • Department of Defense’s recruiting
  • Public high schools

America’s leaders agree that despite the success of the All-Volunteer Force, registration with Selective Service must continue as a key component of national security strategy. As President Clinton informed Congress in 1994, “Maintaining the Selective Service System and draft registration provides a hedge against unforeseen threats and a relatively low-cost ‘insurance policy’ against our underestimating the maximum level of threat we expect our Armed Forces to face.”

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President Jimmy Carter reinstated the Selective Service registration requirement on July 2, 1980 through Presidential Proclamation 4771.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of the United States Constitution: “The Congress shall have Power To …raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years….”

The constitutionality of the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA) has been consistently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. As was stated by the Court in the case of Wayte v. United States, 470 U.S. 598 (1985), “Few interests can be more compelling than a nation’s need to ensure its own security. It is well to remember that freedom as we know it has been suppressed in many countries. Unless a society has the capability and will to defend itself from the aggressions of others, constitutional protections of any sort have little meaning. Recognizing this fact, the Framers listed “provid[ing] for the common defense,…, as a motivating purpose for the Constitution and granted Congress the power to “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States,” Art. I, 8, cl. 1. “In United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 377 (1968), quoting Lichter v. United States, 334 U.S. 742, 756, the Court wrote, ” the power … to classify and conscript manpower for military service is `beyond question.”

Registration

Men 18-25 can register online with a valid SSN, by using our printable registration form, or by completing a form (SSS Form 1) at the post office. Once a man turns 26, he is no longer able to register.

The printable PDF form is available for download here and can be mailed to us by following the instructions on the form.

Register

Registration is a way our government keeps a list of names of men from which to draw in case of a national emergency requiring rapid expansion of our Armed Forces. By registering all young men, Selective Service ensures that a future draft will be fair and equitable.

NOTE:  Registering with Selective Service does not mean you are joining the military.

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Failure to register with Selective Service is a violation of the Military Selective Service Act. Conviction for such a violation may result in imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of not more than $250,000.

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It may take as long as 90 days to process your registration if you mailed in a completed registration form. Otherwise, if you were successful in registering online, it is immediate. Please disregard all other reminders to register.

If, after 90 days, you still haven’t received a registration acknowledgment card in the mail, call Selective Service at 1-847-688-6888 and use the automated system to check to see if you’re in our system. If you’ve already registered and you’re in the system and if you still get a reminder letter to register, please contact us at 1-847-688-6888 (and hold on the phone for a representative to come on the line) so we can resolve this issue. If you’re not in the system, then please re-register.

If the student applying for financial aid indicates he is not 18 years old yet, he is not required to register with Selective Service for FAFSA. He can pre-register online at www.sss.gov if he is at least 17 years and 3 months old. In that case, he will be automatically registered at 18 years old.

The Department of Education’s Student Financial Aid Handbook provides guidance for school registrars relating to Selective Service registration. In this Handbook, it clearly states the following:

Students who are exempt include:

  • males who are not yet 18 at the time that they complete their [FAFSA] applications (an update is not required during the year, even if a student turns 18 after completing the application);

NOTE: If a student or school registrar has any questions on this matter, they may contact the Selective Service Registration Information Office at 888-655-1825.

Please check to ensure that you entered your name, date of birth, and SSN accurately.

In the first name and last name fields, special characters such as periods (.) are not allowed.

In the address field, only the following special characters are allowed: / & # –  Please note that for this field, periods (.) are not allowed.

We receive social security numbers (SSNs) from the Social Security Administration throughout the year. New SSNs they provide us are added to our database regularly. If you’ve recently received a SSN, we may not have received it from the Social Security Administration yet. It may also be that your SSN was never provided to us.

A valid SSN that is within our database is required to register online.

You can still register with us by completing our printable registration form, or by visiting your local post office to fill out a Selective Service registration form (SSS Form 1) and mailing it to us. Or, if you received a reminder mail-back card from us, fill out that card and send it in.

Printable Registration Form

Yes, you are registered and should be receiving a registration acknowledgment letter with card within 2 weeks. The browser that you are using is not enabled for the use of “cookies” or does not support “cookies.” Our website uses cookies only to collect and temporarily store information to pass between pages and if “cookies” are not used, then the information that you used when entering data is not passed to the page that told you that you had successfully registered. This information is NOT stored on your hard drive. It is maintained in your computer’s memory until you exit your browser. If you can enable cookies, click on “Check Registration” from our homepage (www.sss.gov) to verify your registration.

Tip to enable cookies:  In Internet Explorer, go to View on the menu bar, select Internet Options and click on the Advanced tab. Ensure that “Prompt before accepting cookies” or “Always accept cookies” is selected.

If you are unable to access our website to register, you may visit the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to get registered. Men can register as soon as they turn 17 years and 3 months old.

If you have a social security number, you are required to provide it. [50 U.S.C. 3802(b); 32 CFR 1615.4(a)]. However, you are not required to have a social security number to register with Selective Service.

You should register online immediately. If you are unable to register online, you must obtain a Selective Service registration form (SSS Form 1) available from any U.S. post office or the “Forms” button on our website (www.sss.gov), to fill out, sign and date, and mail to the address provided on the form. Selective Service will accept a late registration up until the man turns 26 years old.

If you are living inside the United States, please use the form below to register.

Register

Who Needs to Register

Yes, men who are religiously or morally opposed to participating in war as a conscientious objector must still register with the Selective Service System. Men cannot pre-classify as a conscientious objector. In the event of a draft, men who are called for induction would be able to submit a claim for conscientious objector classification.

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Selective Service bases the registration requirement on gender assigned at birth and not on gender identity or on gender reassignment. Individuals who are born male and changed their gender to female are still required to register. Individuals who are born female and changed their gender to male are not required to register.

The legal authority is based on the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA), which does not address gender identify or transgender persons. In addition, Presidential Proclamation 4771 refers to “males” who were “born” on or after January 1, 1960. Thus, Selective Service interprets the MSSA as applying to gender at birth because Congress did not contemplate transgender persons or a person’s gender identity when it required on “males” to register when the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed and amended by the Selective Service Act of 1948 to create the Selective Service System.  Until Congress amends the MSSA or passes a separate law addressing transsexuals and gender identity, Selective Service must follow the intent of Congress when it required only males to register – the registration requirement is based on gender at birth.

In the event of a resumption of the draft, individuals born male who have changed their gender to female can file a claim for an exemption from military service if they receive an order to report for examination or induction.

Yes, in most cases.

The only process now in effect is that men, between the ages of 18 through 25, register with Selective Service and keep their registration record current during that period.  Neither the Military Selective Service Act nor the Presidential proclamation provide an exemption from registration because of a man’s mental or physical condition unless certain criteria are met. The requirements for exemption are:

  • If a man is placed in a hospital, nursing home, long-term care facility, or mental institution on or before his 18th birthday, had no breaks of institutionalization of 30 days or longer, and remained institutionalized until his 26th birthday, he is not required to register.
  • If he is confined to home, whether his own or someone else’s (including group homes), on or before his 18th birthday and cannot leave the home without medical assistance (for example, by ambulance, or with the help of a nurse or EMT), and remained homebound until his 26th birthday, he is not required to register.

Proof of the individual’s circumstances must be provided to Selective Service. Once Selective Service has the documentation, a determination is then made by Selective Service as to whether or not the man qualifies for exemption from registration.

No, clergymen, male students of ministry, are NOT exempt from the Selective Service registration requirement. These men must still register.

Yes. All undocumented males 18 through 25 years of age, other than those admitted on non-immigrant visas, must register, whether or not they have a green card.

See also WHO MUST REGISTER. 

There are a few cases when a man is exempt from the registration requirement. Men who are exempt do not have a Selective Service registration number and are in compliance with federal law. The few individuals who are exempt from this requirement are those on current non-immigrant visas. A complete list of acceptable documentation for exemption may be found below.

Documentation of Exemption

Who Needs to Register

Yes, you are still required to register with Selective Service. Virtually all men must register with Selective Service, even those who believe they’ll be exempt from serving. In the event of a draft, men called for induction would be able to make a claim for deferments, postponements, or exemption from serving.

No. the “only son”, “the last son to carry the family name,” and ” sole surviving son” must register with Selective Service.

These sons can be drafted. However, they may be entitled to peacetime deferment if there is a military death in the immediate family.

See more information on “Who Needs to Register.”

 

Yes. Virtually all men must register with Selective Service. The exceptions to this rule are very few and include: non-immigrant men on a valid student, visitor, tourist, or diplomatic visas; men on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces; and cadets and midshipmen in the Service Academies and certain other U.S. military colleges. All other men must register upon reaching age 18 (or before age 26, if entering and taking up residence in the U.S. when already older than 18).

 

Verification

Write to:

National Archives & Records Administration

National Archives at St. Louis
ATTN: RL-SL
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO 63138-0757

Provide the person’s full name, date of birth, and his address at the time of registration.

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If you registered with your SSN, you can access your Selective Service number and date of registration online and print a copy for your records.

If you do not have a SSN or did not provide one at the time of registration, please call us for further assistance at 888-655-1825.

 

If you registered with your SSN, you can access your Selective Service number and date of registration online and print a copy for your records.

If you do not have a SSN or did not provide one at the time of registration, please call us for further assistance at 888-655-1825.

Verify

 

Change or Update Information

Our computer system does not allow any punctuation in the name fields.  Any punctuation provided will be replaced with a space.

If your name is misspelled, indicate what the correct name should be. Sign and date a Change of Information form, which is the top portion of your Registration Acknowledgment letter, and return it to Selective Service.

If you have legally changed your name, indicate the new name, provide a copy of the court order for your legal name change as supporting documentation, sign and date the form, and return it to Selective Service.

If the month or day in your date of birth is listed incorrectly, indicate the correct date of birth, sign and date the form and return it to Selective Service. If the year of birth is incorrect, indicate the correct year of birth on the form, provide a copy of any official documentation with the correct year of birth, sign and date, and return it to Selective Service.

If you need to correct or provide your social security number, please call Selective Service at 1-847-688-6888, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., EST (Eastern Standard Time).

NOTE: Corrections will take 4-6 weeks to process, after which you will be mailed a new acknowledgment card.

For further assistance, call Selective Service, 1-847-688-6888.

Selective Service System
P.O. Box 94638
Palatine, IL 60064-4638

Men 26 & Older

Failure to register with Selective Service is a violation of the Military Selective Service Act. Conviction for such a violation may result in imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of not more than $250,000.

Learn More

Once you turn 26, it’s too late to register. You may be asked for a Status Information Letter (SIL) from Selective Service which can be found here.

Even though you may not be prosecuted, you may be denied student financial assistance, federal job training, and most federal employment unless you can provide convincing evidence to the agency providing the benefit (not Selective Service) that your failure to register was not knowing and willful, along with a copy of your SIL.

Learn More

Write to:

National Archives & Records Administration

National Archives at St. Louis
ATTN: RL-SL
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO 63138-0757

Provide the person’s full name, date of birth, and his address at the time of registration.

Learn More