What is the Selective Service system, and why is it important?

The Selective Service System is a federal agency that keeps a list of all adult males in the U.S. In case of a military emergency, the federal government uses the Selective Service registration list to draft men for military service[275] — and to provide public service work assignments for men who are morally opposed to military service.[276] If you’re a male between ages 18 and 25 and you live in the United States, and you don’t fall under one of the legal exceptions, you must register with the Selective Service before you turn 26.[277] To learn about the legal exceptions to registration, see the question below: “WHO IS NOT REQUIRED TO REGISTER…?”.

If you do not register in time, there could be negative consequences. Failing to register is a federal felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or a prison term of five years. You can also be denied certain government benefits — such as student financial aid, citizenship, federal job training, or federal jobs.[278] Read on for more information.

  1. 275

    See 50 U.S.C. App. 451 et seq.; Agency Mission, Selective Serv. Sys., https://www.sss.gov/.

  2. 276

    See 32 C.F.R. § 1656.1.

  3. 277

    50 U.S.C. App. 453.

  4. 278

    Benefits and Penalties, Selective Serv. Sys., https://www.sss.gov/Registration/Why-Register/Benefits-and-Penalties.