Countries With Mandatory Military Service 2021

map placeholder

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 - Conscription currently inactive, but males aged 18-25 must register with Selective Service in case conscription is reinstated in the future
  • 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 2021

Country Mandatory Military Service Details 2021 Population
Afghanistanunclear(Information unavailable)39,835,428
AlbaniaNoConscription abolished 20102,872,933
AlgeriaYes12 months for males aged 19-3044,616,624
AngolaYes24 months for males aged 20-4533,933,610
Antigua And BarbudaNoNo conscription98,731
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 functional45,605,826
ArmeniaYes24 months for males 18-27. If enrolled in officer-producing program at university, can defer service until after graduation and serve as an officer2,968,127
AustraliaNoConscription abolished 197325,788,215
AustriaYes6 months military service or 9 months alternative civil/community service for males 18 to 50 years old; reserves are subject to additional compulsory service9,043,070
AzerbaijanYes18 months for men 18-25 (12 months for university graduates)10,223,342
BahamasNoNo conscription396,913
BahrainNoNo conscription1,748,296
BangladeshNoNo conscription166,303,498
BarbadosNoNo conscription287,711
BelarusYes12-18 months military service or 24-36 months alternative service for males aged 18-27; duration depends upon academic qualifications.9,442,862
BelgiumNoConscription abolished 199511,632,326
BelizeDe jureLaw authorizes conscription if necessary, but as volunteers outnumber available positions 3:1, it has never been implemented404,914
BeninYes18 months selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-35; higher education degree required12,451,040
BermudaNoNo conscription62,090
BhutanYesMilitary training required for males 20-25, but full enlistment is voluntary779,898
BoliviaYes12 months military service or 24 months Search and Rescue for males aged 18-2211,832,940
Bosnia And HerzegovinaNoConscription abolished 20053,263,466
BotswanaNoNo conscription2,397,241
BrazilYes10-12 months for males aged 18-45213,993,437
BruneiNoNo conscription441,532
BulgariaNoConscription ended 20076,896,663
Burkina FasoNoNo conscription21,497,096
BurundiNoNo conscription12,255,433
CambodiaYes18 months for males aged 18-3016,946,438
CameroonNoNo conscription27,224,265
CanadaNoNo conscription38,067,903
Cape VerdeYes24 months selective compulsory for males and females 18-35561,898
Central African RepublicNoNo conscription4,919,981
ChadYes36 months for males age 20, 12 months for females age 21 (females can opt for civic service)16,914,985
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.19,212,361
ChinaDe jureDe jure system (legally recognized, but not practiced). 24 months for males aged 18-22 — However, complusory recruitment has never been required 1,444,216,107
ColombiaYes18 months for males aged 18-2451,265,844
ComorosNoNo conscription888,451
CroatiaNoConscription abolished 20084,081,651
CubaYes24 months for males aged 17-2811,317,505
CuracaoNoNo conscription164,798
CyprusYes14 months in Cypriot National Guard (CNG) for males aged 18-501,215,584
DenmarkYes4-12 months training required for men at age 18. No immediate service required, but soldier remains eligible for further conscription until age 505,813,298
DjiboutiNoNo conscription1,002,187
Dominican RepublicNoNo conscription10,953,703
DR CongoYesLaw authorizes conscription of citizens aged 18-45 if necessary; degree of implementation is unclear92,377,993
EcuadorNoConscription suspended17,888,475
EgyptYes18-36 months for males 18-30, who then become reserves for 9 years104,258,327
El SalvadorYes12 months (11 for officers and non-commissioned officers) selective compulsory service for males at age 186,518,499
Equatorial GuineaYes24 months selective compulsory for males at age 18, though conscription is rare in practice.1,449,896
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 indefinitely3,601,467
EstoniaYes8-11 months military or government service for males 18-27; duration depends on education, with NCOs, reserve officers, and specialists serving11 months1,325,185
EswatiniNoNo conscription1,172,362
EthiopiaDe jureNo ongoing compulsory military service, but the military may conduct compulsory callups when necessary117,876,227
FijiNoNo conscription902,906
FinlandYes6-12 months military or border guard service for males at age 18, after which they become reserves until age 605,548,360
FranceNoNo conscription65,426,179
GabonNoNo conscription2,278,825
GambiaNoNo conscription2,486,945
GeorgiaYes12 months for males aged 18-273,979,765
GermanyNoConscription ended 201183,900,473
GhanaNoNo conscription31,732,129
GreeceYes9 months (Air Force, Navy) to 12 months (Army) for males aged 19-4510,370,744
GuatemalaYes12-24 months selective conscription service for males aged 17-21, though conscription is rare in practice.18,249,860
GuineaNoNo conscription13,497,244
Guinea BissauYes24 months selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-252,015,494
GuyanaNoNo conscription790,326
HondurasNoNo conscription10,062,991
HungaryNoConscription abolished 20059,634,164
IndiaNoNo conscription1,393,409,038
IndonesiaDe jureSelective conscription is authorized, but not currently utilized. Obligation is 18-24 months for males at age 18.276,361,783
IranYes18-24 months for males at age 1885,028,759
IraqNoNo conscription41,179,350
IrelandNoNo conscription4,982,907
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) 8,789,774
ItalyNoConscription abolished 200460,367,477
Ivory CoastDe jureSelective conscription of males and females aged 18-25 is authorized, but is not currently enforced. 27,053,629
JamaicaNoNo conscription2,973,463
JapanNoNo conscription126,050,804
JordanYes12 months for unemployed males 25-29; obligation consists of 3 months military training and 9 months of professional and technical training10,269,021
KazakhstanYes12 months for males aged 18-2718,994,962
KenyaNoNo conscription54,985,698
KuwaitYes12 months for males aged 18-354,328,550
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 years6,628,356
LaosYes18 months for males at age 187,379,358
LatviaNoNo conscription1,866,942
LebanonNoNo conscription6,769,146
LesothoNoNo conscription2,159,079
LiberiaNoNo conscription5,180,203
LibyaNoNo conscription6,958,532
LithuaniaYes9 months for males aged 19-262,689,862
LuxembourgNoNo conscription634,814
MadagascarNoNo conscription28,427,328
MalawiNoNo conscription19,647,684
MalaysiaNoNo conscription32,776,194
MaldivesNoNo conscription543,617
MaliYes24 months selective compulsory for males and females at age 1820,855,735
MaltaNoNo conscription442,784
MauritaniaNoNo conscription4,775,119
MauritiusNoNo conscription1,273,433
MexicoYes12 months for lottery-selected males at age 18; after which they become reserves until age 40130,262,216
MoldovaYes12 months for males aged 18-27 - may be abolished soon4,024,019
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 453,329,289
MontenegroNoConscription abolished 2006628,053
MoroccoYes12 months for males and females at age 1937,344,795
MozambiqueYes24 months of selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-3532,163,047
MyanmarDe jureLaw reintroducing conscription passed in 2010, but has not yet entered into force54,806,012
NamibiaNoNo conscription2,587,344
NepalNoNo conscription29,674,920
NetherlandsNoConscription abolished 199617,173,099
New ZealandNoNo conscription4,860,643
NicaraguaNoNo conscription6,702,385
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 enforced25,130,817
NigeriaNoNo conscription211,400,708
North KoreaYes8 years (males) to 5 years (females) military service at age 17 25,887,041
North MacedoniaNoConscription abolished 20072,082,658
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.5,465,630
OmanNoNo conscription5,223,375
PakistanNoNo conscription225,199,937
Papua New GuineaNoNo conscription9,119,010
ParaguayYes12 months (Army) to 24 months (Navy) for males at age 187,219,638
PeruNoNo conscription33,359,418
PhilippinesNoNo conscription111,046,913
PolandNoNo conscription37,797,005
PortugalDe jureCompulsory service abolished 2004. Conscription authorized, but is not currently enforced. 10,167,925
QatarYes4-12 months (depending upon education and profession) for males 18-352,930,528
Republic of the CongoNoNo conscription5,657,013
RomaniaNoConscription ended 200619,127,774
RussiaYes12 months for males 18-27, after which they become reserves until age 50. May end conscription in near future.145,912,025
RwandaNoNo conscription13,276,513
Saint Kitts And NevisNoNo conscription53,544
Saint LuciaNoNo conscription184,400
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. 34,017
Sao Tome And PrincipeDe jure[Limited information] Conscription authorized for citizens at age 18, but is apparently unenforced. 223,368
Saudi ArabiaNoNo conscription35,340,683
SenegalYes24 months selective compulsory service for males (and possibly females) at age 2017,196,301
SerbiaNoConscription abolished 20118,697,550
SeychellesNoNo conscription98,908
Sierra LeoneNoNo conscription8,141,343
SingaporeYes24 months for males 18-21, who then become reserves until age 40 (enlisted) or 50 (officers)5,896,686
SlovakiaDe jureConscription in peacetime suspended in 20045,460,721
SloveniaNoConscription abolished in 2003, but could be reinstated in event of war2,078,724
SomaliaDe jureConscription of males aged 18-40 and females aged 18-30 is authorized, but is not currently enforced16,359,504
South AfricaNoNo conscription60,041,994
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)51,305,186
South SudanYes12-24 months for citizens (gender requirements unclear) at age 1811,381,378
SpainDe jureConscription abolished 2001, but government has right to mobilize citizens aged 19-25 years in case of national emergency46,745,216
Sri LankaNoNo conscription21,497,310
SudanYes12-24 months for males and females 18-3344,909,353
SurinameNoNo conscription591,800
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 service10,160,169
SwitzerlandYes245 days (18 weeks) training for males 18-30, followed by six 19-day recalls over next 10 years8,715,494
SyriaYes18 months for males aged 18-4218,275,702
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.23,855,010
TajikistanYes24 months for males aged 18-27; an exemption can be purchased for US$2,200 as of 20219,749,627
TanzaniaunclearNo military conscription, but selective conscription for 24 months public service is authorized. Current enforcement levels are unclear61,498,437
ThailandYes24 months for lottery-chosen males at age 2169,950,850
Timor LesteUncertainConscription of males and females aged 18-30 for 18 months of service was authorized in 2007, but current enforcement levels are unclear1,343,873
TogoNoNo conscription8,478,250
TongaNoNo conscription106,760
Trinidad And TobagoNoNo conscription1,403,375
TunisiaYes12 months for ages 20-35 (gender requirements unclear)11,935,766
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 201985,042,738
TurkmenistanYes24 months (30 months for Navy) for males aged 18-306,117,924
UgandaNoNo conscription47,123,531
UkraineYes12 months for ages 20-27 (gender requirements unclear); conscripts cannot serve on front lines. Conscription may be abolished in the near future43,466,819
United Arab EmiratesYes24 months (16 months for secondary school graduates) for males aged 18-309,991,089
United KingdomNoConscription abolished 196368,207,116
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. 332,915,073
UruguayDe jureNo military conscription currently active, but government has the authority to conscript in emergencies.3,485,151
UzbekistanYes12 months for males aged 18-27; shortened (1-month) term can be purchased and requires remaining in reserves until age 2733,935,763
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.28,704,954
VietnamYes24-36 months for males 18-27 (females eligible, but are not drafted)98,168,833
YemenNoConscription abolished 200130,490,640
ZambiaNoNo conscription18,920,651
ZimbabweNoNo conscription15,092,171

Countries With Mandatory Military Service 2021