How Many 18 Year Old Americans Register for Selective Service?

I only found out a while ago that once your 18 years old in the US, you have to register for military service. I’m not 18 yet, not even a US citizen, but when are they supposed to find out about this? It was just by accident that I found out.

So, are you just supposed to know, or do they maybe send out a letter? How many US citizens are over 18 and walking around, not registered for military service? What if you were found out to not be registered?

Lots of information here:

Well, I can’t remember where, but I remember hearing about this several times from various sources before I turned 18.

And shortly after my 18th birthday, I did, in fact, receive a letter from the government reminding me that I needed to register.

They do send a letter. Why you have to register is anyone’s guess, since they obviously already know how old you are and where you live.

If you haven’t registered, it can be hard to get financial aid for college, among other things.

Selective service is not mandatory military service, exactly. In case the need for a draft occurrs, Uncle Sam just wants to know where he can get troops from. It’s been a quarter of a century since we have had a draft, so I’m not worried just yet.

You say you are not a citizen? That would explain it. A male citizen between 16 and 18 years of age get a number of notifications about it. I registered when I got my driver’s license at 18. I know of other people who have registered when they register to vote ( a requirement, I believe), when they registered vehicles, purchased property. I am not 100 percent sure, but I imagine that when/if you apply for citizenship, you will be informed about SS, and probably registered at the same time. Can’t be sure since I don’t know the particulars of your situation.

Are women obligated to register? I would think so but thinking back on it I don’t recall my female friends having to do this. Obviously most of the troops Unca Sam wants would be male to tote a gun and shoot but I thought this was a new day and age of equality and all that.

I too got a letter. I registered at the local post office. Took me about five minutes if that.

Women are not obligated to register. 'Fact, I doubt they’re even eligible to register.

A few years ago when I registered, I did it online. On one part of the online form, there was a section to select “Male” or “Female”. It was set to “Male” by default. Just for kicks, I clicked on “Female”. A dialog box popped up telling me that women were not allowed to register for selective service. Then it automatically selected “Male” for me again.

With the United States not having a draft anymore, what is the point of Selective Service?


Doublecheck the site Joey G posted above. Even non-citizens have to register. There are exceptions for both citizens and non-citizens, though.

Makes me nervous.

I didn’t intend to register when I turned eighteen. This was in 1982, and there HAD been a draft, not so very long before, and I certainly didn’t intend to make it any easier for them to find me when Reagan decided to start WWIII, you know?

Then it was hammered down: I couldn’t get financial aid from college unless I provided proof I’d registered.

Bastards. I registered. I have, however, never made a point of keeping the sonsabitches informed of my whereabouts since then.

I find it kind of ironic that during the Vietnam War, the college boys could get out of the draft, as long as their grades were up to snuff. All the blue-collar boys, though, were fresh meat for Uncle Sam.

If some future administration ever tries to bring BACK the draft, the only ones they WILL be able to find are the college boys…

I never registered. I already had a military scholarship, they had my ass, no need for a lottery. I was sworn in as a Midshipman 4th Class before I turned 18, anyway.

I turned 18 in December of 1981. We were among the first to register on our birthdays. In mid-1981, everyone between the ages of 18 and 23(?) had six months to register. After that, all men had to register within 30 days of their birthday. I did it at the post office with two friends (I’m still in contact with both of them) whose b-days are within a week of mine. It was all over the news so no one could claim ignorance of the new law.

These were the early Reagan days and many of us were nervous that we would be drafted and sent to Libya.

Once you turn 25 you are no longer required to give them your address. You’re pretty much off the hook at this point.

This was true at first but in the later years of the War they went to a draft lottery and student deferments were no longer accepted. You were allowed to finish the semester and that was it.


My brother had to register or he wouldn’t have been admitted to the college he’s at, let alone get financial aid. This was just last fall.

I had no idea there was an obligation to tell the military where I was. I registered in 1986 - I don’t recall exactly how I heard, but everybody knew. My parents made it clear they’d support me if I refused, but I figured the odds of an actual draft were pretty remote. In any real war I’d be a smoldering pile of decaying cesium 137 before a selective service board managed to print out a draft card…

So if/when they bring it back they know where people are.

My basic situation is ‘curious’. Though, as a follow up question that I didn’t think of in the OP, but how long are you in the service?

I’m a girl and in 1990 I think we went to the post office when I turned 18 and filled out a card: “No, I do not have to register for selective service because [check box:] ‘I am Female’.” I can’t remember what other check boxes there were.

You aren’t in the service until you get drafted, or volunteer. “Selective Service” is just a database of information. Once you are in the real military, you are in until they let you out.

I had to register in order to apply for college financial and/or when applying for college itself.

I was only 17, so I received a nice letter back telling me how patriotic of me to register and doing my duty, etc, but that my application would be held until I turned 18.

I was a non-citizen (permanent resident) at the time and not excempt from this requirement.