Advice to Conscientious Objectors
Facing Draft Registration
Before you register:
- Read the information below.
- Seek out a qualified draft counselor, attorney, or draft counseling agency.
- Consider your options.
If you decide to register:
- Find a post office for your registration that has an accessible photocopier.
- Print in legible black ink across the middle of the registration form: I AM A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR TO WAR IN
ANY FORM. This is not a classification, but it may help you later to document your position as a CO.
- Make a photocopy of your registration form for your own records before you submit it to the postal worker for
date stamp and initials.
- Keep one complete copy of your conscientious objector beliefs on file with you and another at your congregation or conference office, Center on Conscience & War, or any other
counseling agency. Such a statement would be helpful in qualifying for the U.S. Peace Tax Fund should it become law.
Conscientious Objectors and Draft Registration
All men residing in the United States who were born on or after January 1, 1963 are required to register for
the draft within 30 days of their 18th birthday, unless they are aliens who are in the U.S. on temporary visas.
The penalty for failing to register can be up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $250,000. Women
might be required to register in the future.
Under the emergency mobilization system, only registration takes place until a national defense emergency is
declared and Congress restores the President's induction authority. Classifications such as hardship and
conscientious objection are not assigned until after the registrant receives an induction notice. Once the
mobilization draft begins, unless the inductee claims a classification other than 1-A, Available for Military
Service, within 10 days of the induction notice, the registrant must report to the designated Military
Entrance Processing Station for testing and induction. The Department of Defense will delay inductions for
When a conscientious objector registers, he (male only, so far) should note somewhere on the registration
form that by reason of his training and belief, he is conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any
form, and he should make a photocopy of the card before surrendering it to the postal worker. THIS DOES NOT
MEAN THAT SELECTIVE SERVICE WILL TAKE NOTE OF HIS BELIEFS NOW. Selective Service destroys the original
registration cards after they are microfilmed, and conscientious objectors who have placed any such notice
on the registration card will still have to request the CO classification if they receive induction notices.
The initial claim is made on Form 9, and the claim is documented on Form 22.
To prepare for a possible draft, COs should have prepared in advance a file which documents their beliefs.
Include in this file, at least, the photocopy of the registration card, a comprehensive statement of beliefs,
and letters of support for this statement. Such evidence can be presented to the local board who will hear
the claim for a CO classification. Compiling this file should be done with supervision from a qualified draft
counselor or agency such as CCW.
Hundreds of thousands of men have refused to register, despite the threat of possible prosecution. Twenty,
a very small percentage, have been prosecuted. (There have been no more prosecutions since 1985.) Many
churches have supported nonregistration as a valid conscientious response to the registration requirement.
Non-registrants should be prepared to be prosecuted, and if indicted should quickly find an attorney who is
familiar with draft law. Even without prosecution, nonregistrants will automatically forego certain government
student aid, training and employment possibilities. Several states bar non-registrants from attending state
colleges and universities.
NOTE to Mennonites, and to anyone attending a Mennonite college: funds are available to replace any loans or
scholarships which you might lose if you don't register. Talk to your Mennonite college finance director or
your Mennonite denominational peace staff person.
After registration, Selective Service will send a "registration acknowledgment" letter, which repeats the
information the registrant gave on the form and supplies a Selective Service Number. If any of the information
is incorrect, the registrant may return the accompanying Form 3B to correct any mistakes. This letter, Form 3A,
can be retained by the registrant as proof of his registration.
Please contact the Center on Conscience & War with any questions regarding registration and conscientious
objection that have not been answered on this website:
Center on Conscience & War (NISBCO)
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009
Tel: (202) 483-2220
Fax: (202) 483-1246