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Military > Service age and obligation: Countries Compared

DEFINITION: This entry gives the required ages for voluntary or conscript military service and the length of sevice obligation.
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION
Afghanistan 22 years of age; inductees are contracted into service for a 4-year term
Albania 19 years of age
Algeria 19-30 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months (6 months basic training, 12 months civil projects)
Angola 17 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years plus time for training
Antigua and Barbuda 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Argentina 18-24 years of age for voluntary military service (18-21 requires parental permission); no conscription
Armenia 18-27 years of age for voluntary or compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation
Australia 17 years of age for voluntary military service (with parental consent); no conscription; women allowed to serve in Army combat units in non-combat support roles
Austria 18-35 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for male or female voluntary service; service obligation 7 months of training, followed by an 8-year reserve obligation
Azerbaijan men between 18 and 35 are liable for military service; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; length of military service is 18 months and 12 months for university graduates
Bahrain 17 years of age for voluntary military service; 15 years of age for NCOs, technicians, and cadets; no conscription
Bangladesh 16 years of age for voluntary military service; 17 years of age for officers (both with parental consent); conscription legally possible in emergency, but has never been implemented
Barbados 18 years of age for voluntary military service (younger requires parental consent); no conscription
Belarus 18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months
Belgium 18 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription suspended
Belize 18 years of age for voluntary military service; laws allow for conscription only if volunteers are insufficient; conscription has never been implemented; volunteers typically outnumber available positions by 3:1
Benin 21 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; in practice, volunteers may be taken at the age of 18; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months
Bermuda 18-23 years of age; eligible men required to register for conscription as needed into the Bermuda Regiment, which is largely voluntary; term of service 39 months
Bhutan 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Bolivia 18 years of age for 12-month compulsory military service; when annual number of volunteers falls short of goal, compulsory recruitment is effected, including conscription of boys as young as 14; 15-19 years of age for voluntary premilitary service, provides exemption from further military service
Bosnia and Herzegovina 17 years of age for voluntary military service in the Federation and in the Republika Srpska; conscription abolished January 2006; 4-month service obligation
Botswana 18 is the apparent age of voluntary military service; the official qualifications for determining minimum age are unknown
Brazil 21-45 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 9 to 12 months; 17-45 years of age for voluntary service; an increasing percentage of the ranks are "long-service" volunteer professionals; women were allowed to serve in the armed forces beginning in early 1980s when the Brazilian Army became the first army in South America to accept women into career ranks; women serve in Navy and Air Force only in Women's Reserve Corps
Brunei 18 years of age (est.) for voluntary military service; non-Malays are ineligible to serve
Bulgaria 18-27 years of age for voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 9 months; as of May 2006, 67% of the Bulgarian Army comprised of professional soldiers; conscription ended as of 1 January 2008; Air and Air Defense Forces and Naval Forces became fully professional at the end of 2006
Burkina Faso 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 20 years of age for voluntary military service
Burma 18 years of age for voluntary military service for both sexes; forced conscription of children, although officially prohibited, reportedly continues
Burundi 16 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; children as young as 10 years of age have been conscripted into the armed forces; the enrollment of children is still not prohibited
Cambodia conscription law of October 2006 requires all males between 18-30 to register for military service; 18-month service obligation
Cameroon 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; the government makes periodic calls for volunteers
Canada 17 years of age for male and female voluntary military service (with parental consent); 16 years of age for reserve and military college applicants; Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status required; maximum 34 years of age; service obligation 3-9 years
Cape Verde 18 years of age (est.) for selective compulsory military service; 14-month conscript service obligation
Central African Republic 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; 2-year conscript service obligation
Chad 20 years of age for conscripts, with 3-year service obligation; 18 years of age for volunteers; no minimum age restriction for volunteers with consent from a guardian; women are subject to 1 year of compulsory military or civic service at age of 21
Chile 18-45 years of age for voluntary male and female military service, although the right to compulsory recruitment is retained; service obligation - 12 months for Army, 22 months for Navy and Air Force
China 18-22 years of age for selective compulsory military service, with 24-month service obligation; no minimum age for voluntary service (all officers are volunteers); 18-19 years of age for women high school graduates who meet requirements for specific military jobs
Colombia 18-24 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; service obligation - 18 months
Congo, Republic of the 18 years of age for voluntary military service; women allowed to serve
Costa Rica 18 years of age
Cote d'Ivoire 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service
Croatia 18-27 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age with consent for voluntary service; 6-month conscript service obligation; full conversion to professional military service by 2010
Cuba 17-28 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year service obligation; both sexes subject to military service
Cyprus Greek Cypriot National Guard (GCNG): 18-50 years of age for compulsory military service for all Greek Cypriot males; 17 years of age for voluntary service; females are not conscripted; age of military eligibility 17 to 50; length of normal service is 25 months with a minimum of 3 months
Czech Republic 18-28 years of age for voluntary and 19-28 for compulsory military service
Democratic Republic of the Congo 18-45 years of age for military service
Denmark 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscripts serve an initial training period that varies from 4 to 12 months according to specialization; reservists are assigned to mobilization units following completion of their conscript service; women eligible to volunteer for military service
Djibouti 18 years of age for voluntary military service; 16-25 years of age for voluntary military training; no conscription
Dominican Republic 18 years of age for voluntary military service
East Timor 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Ecuador 20 years of age for selective conscript military service; 12-month service obligation
Egypt 18-30 years of age for male conscript military service; service obligation 12-36 months, followed by a 9-year reserve obligation
El Salvador 18 years of age for selective compulsory military service; 16 years of age for voluntary service; service obligation - 8 months, but 11 months for officers and NCOs
Equatorial Guinea 18 years of age (est.) for compulsory military service
Eritrea 18-40 years of age for male and female voluntary and compulsory military service; 16-month conscript service obligation
Estonia compulsory military service for men between 19 and 28; conscription lasts 11 months for junior NCOs and reserve platoon leaders; reserve officers and designated specialists have a different conscript service obligation; Estonia has committed to retaining conscription for men up to 2010 and, unlike Latvia and Lithuania, has no plan to transition to a contract armed forces; 17 years of age for volunteers; reserve commitment up to the age of 60
Ethiopia 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; theoretically, no compulsory military service, but the military can conduct call-ups when necessary and compliance is compulsory
Fiji 18 years of age for voluntary military service; reserve obligation to age 45
Finland 18 years of age for male voluntary and compulsory national military and nonmilitary service; service obligation 6-12 months
France 17-40 years of age for male or female voluntary military service); no conscription; 12-month service obligation; women serve in noncombat military posts
Gabon 20 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service
Georgia 18 to 34 years of age for compulsory and voluntary active duty military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months
Germany 18 years of age (conscripts serve a nine-month tour of compulsory military service)
Ghana 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Greece 19-45 years of age for compulsory military service; during wartime the law allows for recruitment beginning January of the year of inductee's 18th birthday, thus including 17 year olds; 17 years of age for volunteers; conscript service obligation - 1 year for all services; women are eligible for voluntary military service
Guatemala all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 50 are liable for military service; conscript service obligation varies from 12 to 24 months; women can serve as officers
Guinea 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation
Guinea-Bissau 18 years of age for selective compulsory military service
Guyana 18-25 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Haiti 18 years of age for voluntary recruitment into the police force
Honduras 18 years of age for voluntary 2 to 3-year military service
Hong Kong 18 years of age
Hungary 18 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished in June 2004; 6-month service obligation, with reserve obligation to age 50
India 16 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; women officers allowed in noncombat roles only
Indonesia 18 years of age for selective compulsory and voluntary military service; 2-year conscript service obligation, with reserve obligation to age 45 (officers); Indonesian citizens only
Iran 19 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; 17 years of age for Law Enforcement Forces; 15 years of age for Basij Forces (Popular Mobilization Army); conscript military service obligation - 18 months; women exempt from military service
Iraq 18-49 years of age for voluntary military service
Ireland 17-25 years of age for male or female voluntary military service (17-27 years of age for the Naval Service); enlistees 16 years of age can be recruited for apprentice specialist positions; maximum obligation 12 years; 17-35 years of age for the Reserve Defense Forces; EU citizenship or 5-year residence in Ireland required
Israel 18 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are obligated to military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for enlisted men, 21 months for enlisted women, 48 months for officers; reserve obligation to age 41-51 (men), 24 (women)
Italy 18-27 year of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished January 2005; women may serve in any military branch; 10-month service obligation, with a reserve obligation to age 45 (Army and Air Force) or 39 (Navy)
Jamaica 18 years of age for voluntary military service; younger recruits may be conscripted with parental consent
Japan 18 years of age for voluntary military service
Jordan 17 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription at age 18 was suspended in 1999, although all males under age 37 are required to register; women not subject to conscription, but can volunteer to serve in non-combat military positions
Kazakhstan 18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years; minimum age for volunteers NA
Kenya 18 years of age (est.) for voluntary service, with a 9-year obligation
Kuwait 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; reserve obligation to age 40 with 1 month annual training; women have served in police forces since 1999
Kyrgyzstan 18 years of age for compulsory military service
Laos 15 years of age for compulsory military service; minimum 18-month conscript service obligation
Latvia 18 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished January 2007; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life
Lebanon 18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Lesotho 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Liberia 16 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Libya 17 years of age
Lithuania 19-45 years of age for compulsory military service; 18 years of age for volunteers; 12-month conscript service obligation
Luxembourg 17-25 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; soldiers under 18 are not deployed into combat or with peacekeeping missions; no conscription; Luxembourg citizen or EU citizen with 3-year residence in Luxembourg
Madagascar 18-25 years of age for male-only compulsory military service; 18-month conscript service obligation (either military or equivalent civil service); 20-30 years of age for National Gendarmerie recruits (35 years of age for those with military experience)
Malawi 18 years of age for voluntary military service; standard obligation is 2 years of active duty and 5 years of reserve service
Malaysia 18 years of age for voluntary military service
Maldives 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Mali 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years
Malta 17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Mauritania 18 years of age (est.); conscript service obligation - 2 years; majority of servicemen believed to be volunteers; service in Air Force and Navy is voluntary
Mexico 18 years of age for compulsory military service, conscript service obligation - 12 months; 16 years of age with consent for voluntary enlistment; conscripts serve only in the Army; Navy and Air Force service is all voluntary; women are eligible for voluntary military service
Moldova 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 12-month service obligation
Mongolia 18-25 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months in land or air defense forces or police; a small portion of Mongolian land forces (2.5 percent) is comprised of contract soldiers; women cannot be deployed overseas for military operations
Montenegro compulsory national military service abolished August 2006
Morocco 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months
Mozambique 18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year service obligation
Namibia 18-25 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Nepal 18 years of age for voluntary military service; 15 years of age for military training; no conscription
Netherlands 20 years of age for an all-volunteer force
Netherlands Antilles 16 years of age for National Guard recruitment; no conscription
New Zealand 17 years of age for voluntary military service; soldiers cannot be deployed until the age of 18; no conscription
Nicaragua 17 years of age for voluntary military service; tour of duty 18-36 months
Niger 17-21 years of age for voluntary military service; 2-year service term; women may serve in health care
Nigeria 18 years of age for voluntary military service
North Korea 17 years of age
Norway 18-44 years of age for male compulsory military service; 16 years of age in wartime; 17 years of age for male volunteers; 18 years of age for women; 12-month service obligation, in practice shortened to 8 to 9 months; although all males between ages of 18 and 44 are liable for service, in practice they are seldom called to duty after age 30; reserve obligation to age 35-60; 16 years of age for volunteers to the Home Guard, who serve 6-month duty tours
Oman 18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Pakistan 16 years of age for voluntary military service; soldiers cannot be deployed for combat until age of 18; the Pakistani Air Force and Pakistani Navy have inducted their first female pilots and sailors
Papua New Guinea 16 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Paraguay 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months for Army, 24 months for Navy
Peru 18-30 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; no conscription
Philippines 18-25 years of age (officers 21-29) for compulsory and voluntary military service; applicants must be single male or female Philippine citizens
Poland 17 years of age for male compulsory military service after January 1st of the year of 18th birthday; 17 years of age for voluntary military service; conscript service obligation shortened from 12 to 9 months in 2005; by 2008, plans call for at least 60% of military personnel to be volunteers; only soldiers who have completed their conscript service are allowed to volunteer for professional service; as of April 2004, women are only allowed to serve as officers and noncommissioned officers
Portugal 18 years of age for voluntary military service; compulsory military service ended in 2004; women serve in the armed forces, on naval ships since 1993, but are prohibited from serving in some combatant specialties; reserve obligation to age 35
Qatar 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Reunion 18 years of age
Romania 18 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription officially ended October 2006; all military inductees (including women) contract for an initial 5-year term of service; subsequent voluntary service contracts are for successive 3-year terms until the age of 36
Russia 18-27 years of age for compulsory or voluntary military service; males are registered for the draft at 17 years of age; service obligation - 1 year; reserve obligation to age 50; as of July 2008, a draft military strategy called for the draft to continue up to the year 2030
Rwanda 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Saint Kitts and Nevis 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
San Marino 16-55 for voluntary service in Voluntary Military Force
Sao Tome and Principe 18 years of age (est.)
Saudi Arabia 18 years of age (est.); no conscription
Senegal 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years
Serbia and Montenegro 19-35 years of age for compulsory military service; under a state of war or impending war, conscription can begin at age 16; conscription is to be abolished in 2010; 9-month service obligation, with a reserve obligation to age 60 for men and 50 for women
Seychelles 18 years of age for voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); no conscription
Sierra Leone 17 years 6 months of age for voluntary military service (younger with parental consent); no conscription
Singapore 18-21 years of age for male compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; 2-year conscript service obligation, with a reserve obligation to age 40 (enlisted) or age 50 (officers)
Slovakia 17-30 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished in 2006; women are eligible to serve
Slovenia 17 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished in 2003
Somalia 18 years of age (est.)
South Africa 18 years of age for voluntary military service
South Korea 20-30 years of age for compulsory military service, with middle school education required; conscript service obligation - 24-28 months, depending on the military branch involved (to be reduced to 18 months beginning 2016); 18-26 years of age for voluntary military service; women, in service since 1950, admitted to 7 service branches, including infantry, but excluded from artillery, armor, anti-air, and chaplaincy corps; some 4,000 women serve as commissioned and noncommissioned officers, approx. 2.3% of all officers
Spain 20 years of age
Sri Lanka 18 years of age for voluntary military service
Sudan 18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year service obligation
Suriname 18 years of age (est.); recruitment is voluntary, with personnel drawn almost exclusively from the Creole community
Swaziland 18-30 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; no conscription
Sweden 19 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation: 7-15 months (Navy), 8-12 months (Air Force); after completing initial service, soldiers have a reserve commitment until age 47
Switzerland 19 years of age for male compulsory military service; 18 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; the Swiss Constitution states that "every Swiss male is obliged to do military service"; every Swiss male has to serve at least 260 days in the armed forces; conscripts receive 18 weeks of mandatory training, followed by seven 3-week intermittent recalls for training during the next 10 years
Syria 18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 30 months (18 months in the Syrian Arab Navy); women are not conscripted but may volunteer to serve
Taiwan 19-35 years of age for male compulsory military service; service obligation 14 months (reducing to 1 year in 2009) year; women may enlist; women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles; reserve obligation to age 30 (Army); the Ministry of Defense has announced plans to implement an incremental voluntary enlistment system beginning 2010, with 10% fewer conscripts each year thereafter, although nonvolunteers will still be required to perform alternative service or go through 3-4 months of military training
Tajikistan 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation
Tanzania 18 years of age for voluntary military service
Thailand 21 years of age for compulsory military service; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; males are registered at 18 years of age; 2-year conscript service obligation
The Bahamas 18 years of age (est.); no conscription
The Gambia 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription
Togo 18 years of age for selective compulsory and voluntary military service; 2-year service obligation
Tonga 18 years of age (est.); no conscription
Trinidad and Tobago 18 years of age for voluntary military service (16 years of age with parental consent); no conscription
Tunisia 20 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months; 18 years of age for voluntary military service
Turkey 20 years of age
Turkmenistan 18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation
Uganda 18-26 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military duty; 18-30 years of age for professionals; 9-year service obligation; the government has stated that recruitment below 18 years of age could occur with proper consent and that "no person under the apparent age of 13 years shall be enrolled in the armed forces"; Ugandan citizenship and secondary education required
Ukraine 18-25 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 18 months for Army and Air Force, 24 months for Navy
United Arab Emirates 18 years of age (est.) for voluntary military service; 18 years of age for officers and women; no conscription
United Kingdom 16-33 years of age (officers 17-28) for voluntary military service (with parental consent under 18); women serve in military services, but are excluded from ground combat positions and some naval postings; must be citizen of the UK, Commonwealth, or Republic of Ireland; reservists serve a minimum of 3 years, to age 45 or 55; 16 years of age for voluntary military service by Nepalese citizens in the Brigade of the Gurkhas; 16-34 years of age for voluntary military service by Papua New Guinean citizens
United States 18 years of age (17 years of age with parental consent) for male and female voluntary service; maximum enlistment age 42 (Army), 27 (Air Force), 34 (Navy), 28 (Marines); service obligation 8 years, including 2-5 years active duty (Army), 2 years active (Navy), 4 years active (Air Force, Marines)
Uruguay 18 years of age for voluntary and compulsory military service; enlistment is voluntary in peacetime, but the government has the authority to conscript in emergencies
Uzbekistan 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 1-year conscript service obligation; moving toward a professional military, but conscription will continue; the military cannot accommodate everyone who wishes to enlist, and competition for entrance into the military is similar to the competition for admission to universities
Venezuela 18-30 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; 30-month conscript service obligation - all citizens 18-50 years old are obligated to register for military service
Vietnam 18 years of age (male) for compulsory military service; females may volunteer for active duty military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years (3 to 4 years in the navy); 18-45 years of age (male) or 18-40 years of age (female) for Militia Force or Self Defense Forces
Yemen voluntary military service program authorized in 2001; 2-year service obligation
Zambia 18 years of age for voluntary military service (16 years of age with parental consent); no conscription
Zimbabwe 18-24 years of age for compulsory military service; women are eligible to serve

Citation

"Countries Compared by Military > Service age and obligation. International Statistics at NationMaster.com", All CIA World Factbooks 18 December 2003 to 18 December 2008. Aggregates compiled by NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Military/Service-age-and-obligation

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