What You Need To Know About Selective Service

If you’re a male living in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 25, you’re required to register for the Selective Service, commonly called the “draft.” Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Selective Service?

Created during World War II, the Selective Service System is an independent federal agency that conscripts men into the military in the event of a war. It could be thought of as a patriotic or civic duty. You receive the benefits of living in the U.S., and in return, you may be called to fight for this country in the time of war.

The last draft was in 1973. To instate a draft again, Congress must pass legislation to start the process and the president must sign it. At that point, the Selective Service would call men to enlist through a lottery.

Who is required to register for the Selective Service?

Registering for the Selective Service is mandatory. With very few exceptions, all males between ages 18 and 25 must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday or within 30 days of arriving in the United States. This includes U.S. born and naturalized citizens, parolees, undocumented immigrants, legal permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, and all males with visas of any kind which expired more than 30 days ago. The few individuals who are exempt from this requirement are those on current non-immigrant (temporary) visas.

How do I register for the draft?

Register Online. The simplest way to register is online at the Selective Service website. You cannot register online unless you know your social security number. If you do not yet have a social security number, register by mail.

Register by Mail. You can also register at the post office. Selective Service mail-back registration forms are available at any U.S. post office. If you do not yet have a social security number, leave that space blank.

Registering overseas. If you live overseas, you can register at any U.S. embassy or consular office.

Register on your FAFSA form. It is possible to register for the SSS by checking the registration box on the federal student financial aid (FAFSA) application.

High School Registrar. Many high schools have a staff member or teacher appointed as a Selective Service Registrar who can help you register.

How do I know if I registered for Selective Service?

You can check if you registered for the draft online. To do so, you will need to enter your last name, social security number, and date of birth.

What happens when you don’t sign up for the draft?

If you don’t register for the Selective Service before turning 26, there are serious consequences. Men who fail to register, even if not prosecuted, become ineligible for federal financial aid, citizenship, federal job training and federal jobs.

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