Countries With Mandatory Military Service 2022

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Most nations in the world have some form of military. However, the methods used to fill the ranks of those armed forces vary from one country to the next. Primary methods of recruitment include the following:

  • Voluntary enlistment — Citizens choose the military as their employer and serve their country as their job or career. Widely regarded as the most preferable and socially responsible method of maintaining a military force.
  • Mandatory service — All males (and sometimes all females as well) of a certain age must serve their country for a minimum amount of time (usually 1-3 years). Typically employed by militaries with the greatest need or the most autocratic leaders.
  • Conscription/Draft — A variation on mandatory service in which everyone in a certain demographic group (typically males aged 18-35) must register as eligible for military service, but the possibility exists that they will not be called to active duty (referred to as being "drafted" or "conscripted"), particularly in times of peace.
  • Selective compulsory service — In many conscription systems, the selection of recruits is random or lottery-driven. In selective compulsory systems, however, candidates are deliberately chosen and called into service only to meet a particular area of need (for instance, medical personnel, mechanics, or pilots).
  • De Jure compulsory service — The least demanding form of compulsory service. Mandatory military service technically exists according to the law but is rarely (if ever) actually enforced. For example, the United States still requires all able-bodied males aged 18-25 to register with the Selective Service, meaning they could be drafted into military service if needed. However, so many voluntary recruits enlist that the draft has not been used since 1973 (during the Vietnam War). Similarly, males in China aged 18-22 must register for 24-month compulsory service, but enough volunteers exist that no “draft” of compulsory registrants has ever taken place.
  • Combinations — Many nations utilize multiple systems in tandem. The United States, for example, relies on voluntary enlistment but also has a de jure conscription system (the Selective Service) to fall back upon should the need arise.

Mandatory military service in the news

The United States has the highest defense spending budget of any country, despite the fact that fewer than 1% of its citizens actively serve in the military. Americans who were surprised to learn that the Selective Service still exists may take comfort in the knowledge that it appears on the verge of obsolescence. House resolution H.R. 5492, which would abolish the Selective Service, was introduced in the House of Representatives in December 2019. However, it was still waiting to advance as of Nov 2021.

South Korea amended its compulsory conscription law in 2020 to enable globally relevant entertainers such as K-pop group BTS, whose members would soon be forced to quit the group to serve their time in the military, to defer their 18-21 months of service until age 30.

Countries with Mandatory Military Service:

  • Algeria — 12 months for males aged 19-30
  • Angola — 24 months for males aged 20-45
  • ArgentinaDe jure - Conscription suspended, but government is authorized to reinstate if necessary
  • Armenia — 24 months for males aged 18-27
  • Austria — 6-9 months for males aged 18-50
  • Azerbaijan — 12-18 months for men aged 18-25
  • Belarus — 12-36 months for men aged 18-27
  • BelizeDe jure - Conscription legal, but has never been needed
  • Benin — 18 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-35
  • Bhutan — Training required for males aged 20-25, but full enlistment is voluntary
  • Bolivia — 12-24 months for males aged 18-22
  • Brazil — 10-12 months for males aged 18-45, but only 5-10% are actually required to serve
  • Cambodia — 18 months for males aged 18-30
  • Cape Verde/Cabo Verde — 24 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-35
  • Chad — 36 months for males age 20, 12 months for females age 21 (females can opt for civic service)
  • Chile — 12-22 months selective compulsory service for males 18-45, but conscription is rarely needed
  • ChinaDe jure - Conscription of males aged 18-22 for 24 months service is legal but has never been needed
  • Columbia — 18 months for males aged 18-24
  • Congo (Democratic Republic of) — Conscription of citizens aged 18-45 is legal, but degree of usage is unclear
  • Cuba — 24 months for males aged 17-28
  • Cyprus — 14 months in National Guard for males aged 18-50
  • Denmark — 4-12 months training for men at age 18, eligible for active conscription until age 50
  • Egypt — 18-36 months plus 9 years reserve for males aged 18-30
  • El Salvador — 11-12 months selective compulsory for males at age 18
  • Equatorial Guinea — 24 months selective compulsory for citizens at age 18
  • Eritrea — 18 months for males and females aged 18-40 - service obligation may be extended indefinitely
  • Estonia — 8-11 months for males aged 18-27
  • EthiopiaDe jure - No ongoing conscription, but military has authority to conduct compulsory draft if necessary
  • Finland — 6-12 months for males at age 18, reserves until age 60
  • Georgia — 12 months for males aged 18-27
  • Greece — 9-12 months for males aged 19-45
  • Guatemala — 12-24 months selective conscription service for males aged 17-21, though conscription is rare in practice
  • Guinea-Bissau — 24 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-25
  • IndonesiaDe jure - Selective conscription of 18-24 months service for males at age 18 is authorized, but not currently utilized
  • Iran — 18-24 months for males at age 18
  • Israel — 24-48 months (9 years for pilots) for males and females at age 18
  • Ivory Coast/Cote d'IvoireDe jure - Selective conscription of males and females aged 18-25 is authorized, but not currently utilized
  • Jordan — 12 months for unemployed males aged 25-29
  • Kazakhstan — 12-24 months for males aged 18-27 - may be abolished soon
  • Kuwait — 12 months for males aged 18-35
  • Kyrgyzstan — 9-12 months for males aged 18-27
  • Laos — 18 months for males at age 18
  • Lithuania — 9 months for males aged 19-26
  • Mali — 24 months selective compulsory for men and women at age 18
  • Mexico — 12 months for lottery-selected males at age 18, eligible as reserves until 40
  • Moldova — 12 months for males aged 18-27 - may be abolished soon
  • Mongolia — 12-24 months for males aged 18-27, eligible as reserves until 45
  • Morocco — 12 months for males and females at age 19
  • Mozambique — 24 months selective compulsory for males and females aged 18-35
  • Myanmar(Burma)De jure - Law reauthorizing conscription passed in 2010, but hasn't gone into effect
  • Niger — 24 months selective compulsory for unmarried males and females at age 18
  • North Korea — 10 years for males and 5 years for females at age 17
  • Norway — 19 months (12 months plus 4-5 refreshers) for males and females aged 19-35. However, more than 80% are released from service.
  • Paraguay — 12-24 months for males at age 18
  • PortugalDe jure - Conscription is legally authorized, but not currently utilized
  • Qatar — 4-12 months for males aged 18-35
  • Russia — 12 months for males aged 18-27, reserves to age 50. May end conscription in near future.
  • San MarinoDe jure - No organized conscription, but military can draft citizens aged 16-60 to serve if need arises
  • Sao Tome and Principe — (Limited information) De jure - Conscription authorized for citizens at age 18, but is apparently unenforced
  • Senegal — 24 months selective compulsory service for males and possibly females at age 20
  • Singapore — 24 months for males aged 18-21, reserves to age 40 (enlisted) or 50 (officers)
  • SlovakiaDe jure - Conscription in peacetime suspended in 2004, but could be reinstated in event of war
  • SomaliaDe jure - Conscription of males aged 18-40 and females aged 18-30 is authorized, but not currently utilized
  • South Korea — 21-24 months for males aged 18-28 (scheduled to decrease to 18-22 months sometime in 2022)
  • South Sudan — 12-24 months at age 18
  • SpainDe jure - Conscription abolished in 2001, but government can draft citizens aged 19-25 in case of national emergency
  • Sudan — 12-24 months for males and females aged 18-33
  • Sweden — 7.5-15 months for males and females at age 18, eligible as reserves until age 47; however, only a portion of those who register are selected for service
  • Switzerland — 245 days (18 weeks training + six 19-day recalls) for males aged 18-30
  • Syria — 18 months for males aged 18-42
  • Taiwan — 4 months for males aged 18-36 plus up to four 20-day training recalls
  • Tajikistan — 24 months for males aged 18-27, an exemption can be purchased.
  • Tanzania — (Limited information) No military conscription, but selective conscription for 24 months public service is authorized. Current enforcement levels are unclear.
  • Thailand — 24 months for lottery-chosen males at age 21
  • Timor Leste — (Limited information) Conscription authorized for males and females aged 18-30 for 18 months of service, but current level of implementation is unclear
  • Tunisia — 12 months for ages 20-35
  • Turkey — 6-12 months for males at age 20, an exemption can be purchased after 1 month of training
  • Turkmenistan — 24-30 months for males aged 18-30
  • Ukraine — 12-24 months for ages 20-27 - may be abolished soon
  • United Arab Emirates — 16-24 months for males aged 18-30
  • United StatesDe jure - The United States military has been all-volunteer since 1973. But an act of Congress could still reinstate the draft in case of a national emergency.
  • UruguayDe jure - Conscription currently inactive, but government is authorized to activate conscription in case of national emergency
  • Uzbekistan — 12 months for males aged 18-27, shortened (1-month) term can be purchased, though purchaser will remain as reserve until age 27
  • Venezuela — Forcible recruitment forbidden, but citizens aged 18-50 must register for possible 12 months military training and service. Those who cannot demonstrate compliance forfeit significant government benefits
  • Vietnam — 24-36 months for males aged 18-27 (females eligible, but are not drafted)

Countries With Mandatory Military Service 2022

Country Mandatory Military Service Details 2022 Population
ChinaDe jureDe jure system (legally recognized, but not practiced). 24 months for males aged 18-22 — However, complusory recruitment has never been required 1,448,471,400
IndiaNoNo conscription1,406,631,776
United StatesDe jureDe jure system. No conscription currently active, but Selective Service retains right to randomly "draft" males aged 18-25 in time of need. 334,805,269
IndonesiaDe jureSelective conscription is authorized, but not currently utilized. Obligation is 18-24 months for males at age 18.279,134,505
PakistanNoNo conscription229,488,994
NigeriaNoNo conscription216,746,934
BrazilYes10-12 months for males aged 18-45215,353,593
BangladeshNoNo conscription167,885,689
RussiaYes12 months for males 18-27, after which they become reserves until age 50. May end conscription in near future.145,805,947
MexicoYes12 months for lottery-selected males at age 18; after which they become reserves until age 40131,562,772
JapanNoNo conscription125,584,838
EthiopiaDe jureNo ongoing compulsory military service, but the military may conduct compulsory callups when necessary120,812,698
PhilippinesNoNo conscription112,508,994
EgyptYes18-36 months for males 18-30, who then become reserves for 9 years106,156,692
VietnamYes24-36 months for males 18-27 (females eligible, but are not drafted)98,953,541
DR CongoYesLaw authorizes conscription of citizens aged 18-45 if necessary; degree of implementation is unclear95,240,792
IranYes18-24 months for males at age 1886,022,837
TurkeyYes6-12 months for males at age 20 (6 months for privates and non-commissioned officers and 12 months for reserve officers); an exemption can be purchased after 1 month of training for 31,000 Lira (approx US$3115) as of 201985,561,976
GermanyNoConscription ended 201183,883,596
ThailandYes24 months for lottery-chosen males at age 2170,078,203
United KingdomNoConscription abolished 196368,497,907
FranceNoNo conscription65,584,518
TanzaniaunclearNo military conscription, but selective conscription for 24 months public service is authorized. Current enforcement levels are unclear63,298,550
South AfricaNoNo conscription60,756,135
ItalyNoConscription abolished 200460,262,770
KenyaNoNo conscription56,215,221
MyanmarDe jureLaw reintroducing conscription passed in 2010, but has not yet entered into force55,227,143
ColombiaYes18 months for males aged 18-2451,512,762
South KoreaYes21 months (Army), 23 months (Navy) or 24 months (Air Force) for males 18-28 (scheduled to decrease to 18-22 months sometime in 2022)51,329,899
UgandaNoNo conscription48,432,863
SpainDe jureConscription abolished 2001, but government has right to mobilize citizens aged 19-25 years in case of national emergency46,719,142
ArgentinaDe jureConscription suspended in 1995, but government has authority to draft citizens into service Argentinians can still be drafted in times of crisis, national emergency, war, or if necessary to keep the military functional46,010,234
SudanYes12-24 months for males and females 18-3345,992,020
AlgeriaYes12 months for males aged 19-3045,350,148
UkraineYes12 months for ages 20-27 (gender requirements unclear); conscripts cannot serve on front lines. Conscription may be abolished in the near future43,192,122
IraqNoNo conscription42,164,965
Afghanistanunclear(Information unavailable)40,754,388
CanadaNoNo conscription38,388,419
MoroccoYes12 months for males and females at age 1937,772,756
PolandNoNo conscription37,739,785
Saudi ArabiaNoNo conscription35,844,909
AngolaYes24 months for males aged 20-4535,027,343
UzbekistanYes12 months for males aged 18-27; shortened (1-month) term can be purchased and requires remaining in reserves until age 2734,382,084
PeruNoNo conscription33,684,208
MalaysiaNoNo conscription33,181,072
MozambiqueYes24 months of selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-3533,089,461
GhanaNoNo conscription32,395,450
YemenNoConscription abolished 200131,154,867
NepalNoNo conscription30,225,582
VenezuelaYes"Forcible recruitment" forbidden, but all citizens aged 18-50 must register for possible military training and service. Those who refuse forfeit many government benefits, including right to obtain driver's license and attend university.29,266,991
MadagascarNoNo conscription29,178,077
CameroonNoNo conscription27,911,548
Ivory CoastDe jureSelective conscription of males and females aged 18-25 is authorized, but is not currently enforced. 27,742,298
NigerYes24 months selective compulsory service in military (females may also serve in health care) for unmarried males and females at age 18; reportedly not always enforced26,083,660
AustraliaNoConscription abolished 197326,068,792
North KoreaYes8 years (males) to 5 years (females) military service at age 17 25,990,679
TaiwanYes4 months military training for males aged 18-36 (civil service can be substituted in some cases), plus up to four 20-day training recalls over next 8 years.23,888,595
Burkina FasoNoNo conscription22,102,838
Sri LankaNoNo conscription21,575,842
MaliYes24 months selective compulsory for males and females at age 1821,473,764
MalawiNoNo conscription20,180,839
ZambiaNoNo conscription19,470,234
SyriaYes18 months for males aged 18-4219,364,809
ChileInfrequent12 months (Army) to 22 months (Navy, Air Force) selective compulsory service for males 18-45 — But in practice, conscriptions occur only if too few volunteers enlist.19,250,195
KazakhstanYes12 months for males aged 18-2719,205,043
RomaniaNoConscription ended 200619,031,335
GuatemalaYes12-24 months selective conscription service for males aged 17-21, though conscription is rare in practice.18,584,039
EcuadorNoConscription suspended18,113,361
SenegalYes24 months selective compulsory service for males (and possibly females) at age 2017,653,671
ChadYes36 months for males age 20, 12 months for females age 21 (females can opt for civic service)17,413,580
NetherlandsNoConscription abolished 199617,211,447
CambodiaYes18 months for males aged 18-3017,168,639
SomaliaDe jureConscription of males aged 18-40 and females aged 18-30 is authorized, but is not currently enforced16,841,795
ZimbabweNoNo conscription15,331,428
GuineaNoNo conscription13,865,691
RwandaNoNo conscription13,600,464
BeninYes18 months selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-35; higher education degree required12,784,726
BurundiNoNo conscription12,624,840
TunisiaYes12 months for ages 20-35 (gender requirements unclear)12,046,656
BoliviaYes12 months military service or 24 months Search and Rescue for males aged 18-2211,992,656
BelgiumNoConscription abolished 199511,668,278
South SudanYes12-24 months for citizens (gender requirements unclear) at age 1811,618,511
CubaYes24 months for males aged 17-2811,305,652
Dominican RepublicNoNo conscription11,056,370
GreeceYes9 months (Air Force, Navy) to 12 months (Army) for males aged 19-4510,316,637
JordanYes12 months for unemployed males 25-29; obligation consists of 3 months military training and 9 months of professional and technical training10,300,869
AzerbaijanYes18 months for men 18-25 (12 months for university graduates)10,300,205
HondurasNoNo conscription10,221,247
SwedenYes7.5 months (Army), 7-15 months (Navy), or 8-12 months (Air Force) for males and females aged 18-47, after which they become reserves until age 47. However, only a portion of those who register are selected for service10,218,971
PortugalDe jureCompulsory service abolished 2004. Conscription authorized, but is not currently enforced. 10,140,570
United Arab EmiratesYes24 months (16 months for secondary school graduates) for males aged 18-3010,081,785
TajikistanYes24 months for males aged 18-27; an exemption can be purchased for US$2,200 as of 20219,957,464
HungaryNoConscription abolished 20059,606,259
BelarusYes12-18 months military service or 24-36 months alternative service for males aged 18-27; duration depends upon academic qualifications.9,432,800
Papua New GuineaNoNo conscription9,292,169
AustriaYes6 months military service or 9 months alternative civil/community service for males 18 to 50 years old; reserves are subject to additional compulsory service9,066,710
IsraelYes32 months for men and 24 months for women (varies based on military occupation), 48 months for officers, 9 years for pilots; once finished, soldiers enter reserves until age 41-51 (men) or 24 (women) 8,922,892
SwitzerlandYes245 days (18 weeks) training for males 18-30, followed by six 19-day recalls over next 10 years8,773,637
TogoNoNo conscription8,680,837
SerbiaNoConscription abolished 20118,653,016
Sierra LeoneNoNo conscription8,306,436
LaosYes18 months for males at age 187,481,023
ParaguayYes12 months (Army) to 24 months (Navy) for males at age 187,305,843
LibyaNoNo conscription7,040,745
BulgariaNoConscription ended 20076,844,597
NicaraguaNoNo conscription6,779,100
KyrgyzstanYes9 months (university graduates) to 12 months military or Interior Ministry service for males aged 18-27; after which they can become paid reserves for 3 years6,728,271
LebanonNoNo conscription6,684,849
El SalvadorYes12 months (11 for officers and non-commissioned officers) selective compulsory service for males at age 186,550,389
TurkmenistanYes24 months (30 months for Navy) for males aged 18-306,201,943
SingaporeYes24 months for males 18-21, who then become reserves until age 40 (enlisted) or 50 (officers)5,943,546
DenmarkYes4-12 months training required for men at age 18. No immediate service required, but soldier remains eligible for further conscription until age 505,834,950
Republic of the CongoNoNo conscription5,797,805
FinlandYes6-12 months military or border guard service for males at age 18, after which they become reserves until age 605,554,960
NorwayYes19 months (12 months plus 4-5 refreshers) for males and females aged 19-44 (18-55 in wartime). However, more than 80% are released from service.5,511,370
SlovakiaDe jureConscription in peacetime suspended in 20045,460,193
OmanNoNo conscription5,323,993
LiberiaNoNo conscription5,305,117
IrelandNoNo conscription5,020,199
Central African RepublicNoNo conscription5,016,678
MauritaniaNoNo conscription4,901,981
New ZealandNoNo conscription4,898,203
KuwaitYes12 months for males aged 18-354,380,326
CroatiaNoConscription abolished 20084,059,286
MoldovaYes12 months for males aged 18-27 - may be abolished soon4,013,171
GeorgiaYes12 months for males aged 18-273,968,738
EritreaYes6 months training and 12 months national service (typically military) for males aged 18-40 and females aged 18-27. Service obligation may be (and often is) extended indefinitely3,662,244
UruguayDe jureNo military conscription currently active, but government has the authority to conscript in emergencies.3,496,016
MongoliaYes12 months Army, Air Force, or police service or 24 months civil service for males aged 18-27; after which they become reserves until age 453,378,078
Bosnia And HerzegovinaNoConscription abolished 20053,249,317
JamaicaNoNo conscription2,985,094
QatarYes4-12 months (depending upon education and profession) for males 18-352,979,915
ArmeniaYes24 months for males 18-27. If enrolled in officer-producing program at university, can defer service until after graduation and serve as an officer2,971,966
AlbaniaNoConscription abolished 20102,866,374
LithuaniaYes9 months for males aged 19-262,661,708
NamibiaNoNo conscription2,633,874
GambiaNoNo conscription2,558,482
BotswanaNoNo conscription2,441,162
GabonNoNo conscription2,331,533
LesothoNoNo conscription2,175,699
North MacedoniaNoConscription abolished 20072,081,304
SloveniaNoConscription abolished in 2003, but could be reinstated in event of war2,078,034
Guinea BissauYes24 months selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-252,063,367
LatviaNoNo conscription1,848,837
BahrainNoNo conscription1,783,983
Equatorial GuineaYes24 months selective compulsory for males at age 18, though conscription is rare in practice.1,496,662
Trinidad And TobagoNoNo conscription1,406,585
Timor LesteUncertainConscription of males and females aged 18-30 for 18 months of service was authorized in 2007, but current enforcement levels are unclear1,369,429
EstoniaYes8-11 months military or government service for males 18-27; duration depends on education, with NCOs, reserve officers, and specialists serving11 months1,321,910
MauritiusNoNo conscription1,274,727
CyprusYes14 months in Cypriot National Guard (CNG) for males aged 18-501,223,387
EswatiniNoNo conscription1,184,817
DjiboutiNoNo conscription1,016,097
FijiNoNo conscription909,466
ComorosNoNo conscription907,419
GuyanaNoNo conscription794,045
BhutanYesMilitary training required for males 20-25, but full enlistment is voluntary787,941
LuxembourgNoNo conscription642,371
MontenegroNoConscription abolished 2006627,950
SurinameNoNo conscription596,831
Cape VerdeYes24 months selective compulsory for males and females 18-35567,678
MaldivesNoNo conscription540,985
BruneiNoNo conscription445,431
MaltaNoNo conscription444,033
BelizeDe jureLaw authorizes conscription if necessary, but as volunteers outnumber available positions 3:1, it has never been implemented412,190
BahamasNoNo conscription400,516
BarbadosNoNo conscription288,023
Sao Tome And PrincipeDe jure[Limited information] Conscription authorized for citizens at age 18, but is apparently unenforced. 227,679
Saint LuciaNoNo conscription185,113
CuracaoNoNo conscription165,529
TongaNoNo conscription107,749
Antigua And BarbudaNoNo conscription99,509
SeychellesNoNo conscription99,426
BermudaNoNo conscription61,939
Saint Kitts And NevisNoNo conscription53,871
San MarinoDe jureNo organized conscription, but government has the authority to call up all citizens aged 16-60 to serve in the military under special circumstances. 34,085

Countries With Mandatory Military Service 2022

Sources