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Mandatory Military Service

Choice

De jure

Infrequent

No

Uncertain

unclear

Yes

Click on a country for details.

Countries with Mandatory Military Service 2024

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. Many Americans may be surprised to learn that the Selective Service—commonly referred to as the draft—still exists. Resolutions introduced in the House of Representatives in 2019 (H.R. 5492) and 2021 (H.R. 2509) would both have abolished the Selective Service. However, as of December 2023, both resolutions appeared to have died in committee.

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.

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Country
Mandatory Military Service
Additional Details
BrazilYes
10-12 months for males aged 18-45
RussiaYes
12 months for males 18-27, after which they become reserves until age 50. May end conscription in ne...
MexicoYes
12 months for lottery-selected males at age 18; after which they become reserves until age 40
EgyptYes
18-36 months for males 18-30, who then become reserves for 9 years
DR CongoYes
Law authorizes conscription of citizens aged 18-45 if necessary; degree of implementation is unclear
VietnamYes
24-36 months for males 18-27 (females eligible, but are not drafted)
IranYes
18-24 months for males at age 18
TurkeyYes
6-12 months for males at age 20 (6 months for privates and non-commissioned officers and 12 months f...
ThailandYes
24 months for lottery-chosen males at age 21
ColombiaYes
18 months for males aged 18-24
South KoreaYes
21 months (Army), 23 months (Navy) or 24 months (Air Force) for males 18-28 (scheduled to decrease t...
SudanYes
12-24 months for males and females 18-33
AlgeriaYes
12 months for males aged 19-30
MoroccoYes
12 months for males and females at age 19
UkraineYes
12 months for ages 20-27 (gender requirements unclear); conscripts cannot serve on front lines. Cons...
AngolaYes
24 months for males aged 20-45
UzbekistanYes
12 months for males aged 18-27; shortened (1-month) term can be purchased and requires remaining in ...
MozambiqueYes
24 months of selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-35
VenezuelaYes
"Forcible recruitment" forbidden, but all citizens aged 18-50 must register for possible military tr...
NigerYes
24 months selective compulsory service in military (females may also serve in health care) for unmar...
North KoreaYes
8 years (males) to 5 years (females) military service at age 17
SyriaYes
18 months for males aged 18-42
MaliYes
24 months selective compulsory for males and females at age 18
TaiwanYes
4 months military training for males aged 18-36 (civil service can be substituted in some cases), pl...
KazakhstanYes
12 months for males aged 18-27
ChadYes
36 months for males age 20, 12 months for females age 21 (females can opt for civic service)
GuatemalaYes
12-24 months selective conscription service for males aged 17-21, though conscription is rare in pra...
SenegalYes
24 months selective compulsory service for males (and possibly females) at age 20
CambodiaYes
18 months for males aged 18-30
BeninYes
18 months selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-35; higher education degree req...
BoliviaYes
12 months military service or 24 months Search and Rescue for males aged 18-22
TunisiaYes
12 months for ages 20-35 (gender requirements unclear)
JordanYes
12 months for unemployed males 25-29; obligation consists of 3 months military training and 9 months...
South SudanYes
12-24 months for citizens (gender requirements unclear) at age 18
CubaYes
24 months for males aged 17-28
SwedenYes
7.5 months (Army), 7-15 months (Navy), or 8-12 months (Air Force) for males and females aged 18-47, ...
AzerbaijanYes
18 months for men 18-25 (12 months for university graduates)
TajikistanYes
24 months for males aged 18-27; an exemption can be purchased for US$2,200 as of 2021
GreeceYes
9 months (Air Force, Navy) to 12 months (Army) for males aged 19-45
United Arab EmiratesYes
24 months (16 months for secondary school graduates) for males aged 18-30
BelarusYes
12-18 months military service or 24-36 months alternative service for males aged 18-27; duration dep...
IsraelYes
32 months for men and 24 months for women (varies based on military occupation), 48 months for offic...
AustriaYes
6 months military service or 9 months alternative civil/community service for males 18 to 50 years o...
LaosYes
18 months for males at age 18
ParaguayYes
12 months (Army) to 24 months (Navy) for males at age 18
KyrgyzstanYes
9 months (university graduates) to 12 months military or Interior Ministry service for males aged 18...
TurkmenistanYes
24 months (30 months for Navy) for males aged 18-30
El SalvadorYes
12 months (11 for officers and non-commissioned officers) selective compulsory service for males at ...
SingaporeYes
24 months for males 18-21, who then become reserves until age 40 (enlisted) or 50 (officers)
DenmarkYes
4-12 months training required for men at age 18. No immediate service required, but soldier remains ...
FinlandYes
6-12 months military or border guard service for males at age 18, after which they become reserves u...
NorwayYes
19 months (12 months plus 4-5 refreshers) for males and females aged 19-44 (18-55 in wartime). Howev...
KuwaitYes
12 months for males aged 18-35
EritreaYes
6 months training and 12 months national service (typically military) for males aged 18-40 and femal...
GeorgiaYes
12 months for males aged 18-27
MongoliaYes
12 months Army, Air Force, or police service or 24 months civil service for males aged 18-27; after ...
MoldovaYes
12 months for males aged 18-27 - may be abolished soon
ArmeniaYes
24 months for males 18-27. If enrolled in officer-producing program at university, can defer service...
QatarYes
4-12 months (depending upon education and profession) for males 18-35
LithuaniaYes
9 months for males aged 19-26
Guinea BissauYes
24 months selective compulsory service for males and females aged 18-25
Equatorial GuineaYes
24 months selective compulsory for males at age 18, though conscription is rare in practice.
EstoniaYes
8-11 months military or government service for males 18-27; duration depends on education, with NCOs...
CyprusYes
14 months in Cypriot National Guard (CNG) for males aged 18-50
BhutanYes
Military training required for males 20-25, but full enlistment is voluntary
Cape VerdeYes
24 months selective compulsory for males and females 18-35
Afghanistanunclear
TanzaniaUncertain
No military conscription, but selective conscription for 24 months public service is authorized. Cur...
Timor LesteUncertain
Conscription of males and females aged 18-30 for 18 months of service was authorized in 2007, but cu...
IndiaNo
No conscription
PakistanNo
No conscription
NigeriaNo
No conscription
BangladeshNo
No conscription
JapanNo
No conscription
PhilippinesNo
No conscription
GermanyNo
Conscription ended 2011
United KingdomNo
Conscription abolished 1963
FranceNo
No conscription
South AfricaNo
No conscription
ItalyNo
Conscription abolished 2004
KenyaNo
No conscription
UgandaNo
No conscription
IraqNo
No conscription
CanadaNo
No conscription
Saudi ArabiaNo
No conscription
YemenNo
Conscription abolished 2001
GhanaNo
No conscription
PeruNo
No conscription
MalaysiaNo
No conscription
NepalNo
No conscription
MadagascarNo
No conscription
CameroonNo
No conscription
AustraliaNo
Conscription abolished 1973
Burkina FasoNo
No conscription
Sri LankaNo
No conscription
MalawiNo
No conscription
ZambiaNo
No conscription
RomaniaNo
Conscription ended 2006
EcuadorNo
Conscription suspended
NetherlandsNo
Conscription abolished 1996
ZimbabweNo
No conscription
GuineaNo
No conscription
RwandaNo
No conscription
BurundiNo
No conscription
BelgiumNo
Conscription abolished 1995
Dominican RepublicNo
No conscription
HondurasNo
No conscription
Papua New GuineaNo
No conscription
Czech RepublicNo
Conscription abolished 2004
HungaryNo
Conscription abolished 2005
TogoNo
No conscription
Sierra LeoneNo
No conscription
NicaraguaNo
No conscription
SerbiaNo
Conscription abolished 2011
LibyaNo
No conscription
BulgariaNo
Conscription ended 2007
Republic of the CongoNo
No conscription
Central African RepublicNo
No conscription
LiberiaNo
No conscription
New ZealandNo
No conscription
LebanonNo
No conscription
IrelandNo
No conscription
MauritaniaNo
No conscription
OmanNo
No conscription
CroatiaNo
Conscription abolished 2008
Bosnia and HerzegovinaNo
Conscription abolished 2005
GambiaNo
No conscription
AlbaniaNo
Conscription abolished 2010
JamaicaNo
No conscription
BotswanaNo
No conscription
NamibiaNo
No conscription
GabonNo
No conscription
LesothoNo
No conscription
SloveniaNo
Conscription abolished in 2003, but could be reinstated in event of war
North MacedoniaNo
Conscription abolished 2007
LatviaNo
No conscription
Trinidad and TobagoNo
No conscription
BahrainNo
No conscription
MauritiusNo
No conscription
EswatiniNo
No conscription
DjiboutiNo
No conscription
FijiNo
No conscription
ComorosNo
No conscription
GuyanaNo
No conscription
LuxembourgNo
No conscription
SurinameNo
No conscription
MontenegroNo
Conscription abolished 2006
MaltaNo
No conscription
MaldivesNo
No conscription
BruneiNo
No conscription
BahamasNo
No conscription
BarbadosNo
No conscription
CuracaoNo
No conscription
Saint LuciaNo
No conscription
TongaNo
No conscription
SeychellesNo
No conscription
Antigua and BarbudaNo
No conscription
BermudaNo
No conscription
Saint Kitts and NevisNo
No conscription
Vatican CityNo
No conscription
ChileInfrequent
12 months (Army) to 22 months (Navy, Air Force) selective compulsory service for males 18-45 — But i...
ChinaDe jure
De jure system (legally recognized, but not practiced). 24 months for males aged 18-22 — However, co...
United StatesDe jure
De jure system. No conscription currently active, but Selective Service retains right to randomly "d...
IndonesiaDe jure
Selective conscription is authorized, but not currently utilized. Obligation is 18-24 months for mal...
EthiopiaDe jure
No ongoing compulsory military service, but the military may conduct compulsory callups when necessa...
MyanmarDe jure
Law reintroducing conscription passed in 2010, but has not yet entered into force
SpainDe jure
Conscription abolished 2001, but government has right to mobilize citizens aged 19-25 years in case ...
ArgentinaDe jure
Conscription suspended in 1995, but government has authority to draft citizens into service Argentin...
PolandDe jure
De jure system. Not used since 2009, but the president may, at the advice of the legislature, introd...
Ivory CoastDe jure
Selective conscription of males and females aged 18-25 is authorized, but is not currently enforced.
SomaliaDe jure
Conscription of males aged 18-40 and females aged 18-30 is authorized, but is not currently enforced
PortugalDe jure
Compulsory service abolished 2004. Conscription authorized, but is not currently enforced.
SlovakiaDe jure
Conscription in peacetime suspended in 2004
UruguayDe jure
No military conscription currently active, but government has the authority to conscript in emergenc...
BelizeDe jure
Law authorizes conscription if necessary, but as volunteers outnumber available positions 3:1, it ha...
Sao Tome and PrincipeDe jure
[Limited information] Conscription authorized for citizens at age 18, but is apparently unenforced.
San MarinoDe jure
No organized conscription, but government has the authority to call up all citizens aged 16-60 to se...
SwitzerlandChoice
Service is mandatory, but comes with 3 options. | 1) Repetition course, which consists of 18-23 wee...
showing: 178 rows

How many countries have mandatory military service?

There are 66 countries that have mandatory military service.

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