Your Rights

Becoming a Legal Adult: Military Service Q & A

Q: Who is required to register for the draft?

A: If you are a male citizen or male alien residing in the United States you must register within 30 days of your 18th birthday. You may register up to 120 days before your 18th birthday. This is known as Selective Service registration.

Q: At what age can I enlist in the Armed Forces?

A: You may enlist at 17 with your parents’ consent. Without their consent, you may enlist between the ages of 18 to 35.

Q: How do I register?   

A: If you are a young man approaching 18, go to a local post office and fill out a registration form (you must give your name, address, sex, date of birth and Social Security number). You will not get a physical examination or be classified for the draft when you register.

Q: Will draft cards be issued when I register?

A: No. If a draft is called, Western Union Mailgram will notify you. The Mailgram will order you to report for a physical examination and processing. It will also give information on exemptions and deferments. A "tear off" portion of the letter you receive acknowledging your registration may be used as proof of registration.

Q: What can happen if I do not register?

A: You could be convicted of a federal crime punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000. Also, you may have to show proof of registration to be eligible for federal college financial assistance and federal job training assistance programs.

Download the full Becoming a Legal Adult Booklet please here


Note: This information was prepared as a public service by the Illinois State Bar Association. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication. For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, visit our lawyer referral page

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