Mission Application Timeline

By on August 18, 2009

Today I want to talk in more detail about the mission application timeline, the steps involved in the mission call process, when to begin, and how long to expect the steps to take. Please note that all times are approximate. Your individual circumstances may vary.

I have previously written about mission papers and the process for applying to go on a mission. That post dealt with the process from a high-level, perhaps too high of a level, because I still get a lot of questions on precisely when to initiate the steps in the application process. Below I will attempt to answer some of these common questions; let’s hope I succeed.

Mormon Mission Application Timeline

Availability Date

calendarAs you can see in the chart above, the timing for when to start the application process depends on your availability date. So your first step will be to determine the date you are available to start serving a full-time mission.  Your availability date will be, at the earliest, the day your turn 18 if you’re a young man, or the day you turn 19 if you are a young woman.  Your availability date cannot be prior to this birthday, but could be later depending on circumstances such as schooling, etc.

Five Months Prior: Start Application Process

About five months prior to the date you are available to start serving, you will want to begin the application process. Starting your mission papers is done by first setting up a meeting with your bishop.  He will go over the spiritual and physical requirements to serve a mission.  He will tell you about the application process and he will either give you the paper work or give you directions to log in to the mission papers website (the Missionary Online Recommendation System).

You will want to make an appointment to go to the doctor and dentist at this time to have them fill out the medical forms necessary to complete the application. If you have known dental issues you may want to go to the dentist even earlier. This is also a good time to start taking the Church’s missionary preparation class and temple preparation course if you haven’t taken them yet. And if you haven’t gotten your patriarchal blessing by this point, you’ll want to make arrangements to do that as well.

Four Months Prior: Submit Paper Work

missionary meet with stake president

The process of going to the doctor and dentist, filling out the application, getting your photo, meeting with your bishop and stake president, etc. generally takes at least a month.  The last step of the paper work, meeting with the stake president, generally takes place around four months (120 days) before you would like to begin your mission.  The stake president then submits your mission application to Church Headquarters.

Three Months Prior: Receive Mission Call Letter

After the application is submitted, depending on several factors, you should get your mission call letter in about 2 to 4 weeks.  That letter will have your mission assignment and the date you should report to the MTC.  The Church normally tries to allow two to four months between the issuing of the call and the beginning of the mission.  In the packet you receive from Church Headquarters will also be additional instructions and information from your mission president specific to your mission.

Two Months Prior: Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination for Men 

After receiving your call, if young men have not yet been given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained to the office of an Elder, that should take place at this time. Young men need to be advanced to an Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood prior to going to the temple. This is also the time, if you haven’t done so yet, to start shopping for all the items you need to bring on your mission. Your mission call packet will have details on clothes and other items specific to your mission, but for a general list of items check out my LDS missionary clothing list.

One Month Prior: Go To The Temple 

sister mission call letter

LDS temples are an integral part of missionary work and missionaries generally go to the holy temple to receive their endowment just prior to leaving on their mission.  Through the temple endowment, missionaries receive knowledge, power, and protection from on high to do their work.  The Church also has a seven-lesson temple preparation course that future missionaries ought to take.  Talk to your bishop about arrangements for this class; you’ll probably want to start taking this course around the same time you start your missionary application.


That’s it.  Here’s a recap of the steps of the mission application timeline.

  • First, determine your availability date.
  • 5 months prior: Start the application process by meeting with your bishop.
  • 4 months prior: Submit the paper work (generally done by the stake after your interview with the stake president).
  • 3 months prior: Receive your mission call letter and further preparation instructions specific to your mission.
  • 2 months prior: Young men should be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood and office of an Elder.
  • 1 month prior: Go to the temple to receive your endowment.

Then it’s off to the MTC and your mission.  Good luck and may God bless and be with you.


About Jimmy

I served a Mission in Rosario Argentina from 1995 to 1997. An amazing experience! I work for the LDS Church managing websites, doing web analytics, and SEO. I am married to the lovely Heather, and we have five wonderful children. Read more about Jimmy Smith here.


  1. Pingback: Mission Application Form « Mormon Mission Prep

  2. ramil duco

    May 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    congrats to all missionary that have desire to serve God, be fucos in our purpose to invite others to come unto Christ.

  3. Pingback: Patriarchal Blessings — Mormon Mission Prep

  4. Pastor senpu haokip

    April 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Sir. I am willing to serve the lord with you in sikkim as a missionary. Can you support me. How can i get information.

  5. Megan W.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Question, what are the guidelines for pictures for mission papers? I’m filling mine out right now, and I have no idea.

    • Jimmy


      October 10, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Are you asking about the guidelines of what you are supposed to wear in your mission picture? Or the height/width of the picture you’ll need to upload as part of your application? If you’re asking the later, I don’t know. But for the first question, you are supposed to be dressed as a missionary, including appropriate clothing and hair. The Provo MTC website has the dress and grooming guidelines for elders and sisters.

  6. trina

    January 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    just a quick question.. how do you apply your mission papers online???

    • Jimmy


      January 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      You have to get the login instructions from your bishop.

  7. Sarah

    February 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    So I really appreciated Megan’s question. I am trying to submit my papers tonight, and my last step is to upload a photo of myself. I know I have to be dressed and groomed according to missionary standards, but does there have to be a specific background or anything? Can I have trees in the background? And is it supposed to be a full body shot, or just shoulders and up with a white background? Help would be greatly appreciated. :)

    • Jimmy


      February 1, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      I’m not exactly sure if the Church publishes picture guidelines (other than what you have said, i.e. to be dressed like a missionary). My suggestion would be that shoulders and up is probably best (something similar to a passport photo). And a plain or solid background would also probably be best. Good luck.

      • Rachel

        October 25, 2013 at 1:21 am

        So Just so you know it seems like this is a super frequently asked question. I’m not sure on the side. But this will be the picture on a lot of paper work! So guidelines are pretty simple. They ask for Missionary grooming and dress (for us Young Ladies light or no make up) Now you’re ready to take said picture. White back ground. Head shot pose, looking at the camera head on smiling etc. Your welcome :)

  8. ayan

    February 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    hello!i just wanna ask something regarding in waiting for a calling. last month my stake president sent my papers and in reply the mission area found out that i am anemic and they suggest that i should take vitamins and eat green leafy vegetables for 1 month and then i should check again my hemoglobin.so my concern is it my papers are being hold?i asked my stake president last night about my status and then he said he doesn’t know if they hold it.

    • Jimmy


      February 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      Ayan, If your mission call is on hold, the Church will be in communication with you, likely through your stake president. If you have any questions, your stake president should know how to call Church headquarters and find out the status of your call. Good luck and God bless.

  9. Larsen

    February 24, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I’m still in High School, but I’m 18 and am getting in the process of completing the online mission application process. When it asks if I graduated from Seminary, and from High School, should I put the current answer (no) or the answer that will be effective when I leave for a mission (yes).

    • Jimmy


      February 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      Yes, if you’ll be graduating from seminary and high school soon, just put yes.
      This is one of the questions on the mission application form that I imagine they will reword in the future. In the past, mission applicants were well out of high school when filling out the paperwork. Now, with the new lower age, there are many high school seniors applying. So if, in all likelihood, you will be graduating from seminary and high school in the next few months, then my advice would be to just answer yes.

  10. Megan

    June 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    I’m a convert and I was wondering when the earliest is that I can put in my papers. Some people say it’s a year after the date of my baptism and other people are telling me nine months, but I’m not quite sure which is right. I’m just curious. Either way, I have a while to go, but I’d just like to know.

    • Jimmy


      June 27, 2013 at 10:13 am

      You could probably put your mission papers in 8 or 9 months after your baptism. Your availability date to enter the mission field can’t be until a year after your baptism. But the Church will accept mission applications 120 days (4 months) before the person’s availability date. Work with your bishop and he will help you know when it is an appropriate time to put in your paperwork. Congratulations on your baptism. Good luck and God bless you in your mission preparation.

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  12. Kierz

    July 16, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Hi. I will be able to start my mission papers in three months according to your chart. But, I work a lot and only have a select few days off a month and its hard to get time off. I have to ask for time off two months in advance. So I’m just wondering, is it possible that I could start my papers earlier than the five months but still wait for the four month mark to submit them? Because the extra time in starting them earlier would really help to get them submitted in time for my availability date.

    • Jimmy


      July 17, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Yep. You can do that. Just be in communication with your bishop about it. I’m sure it will be fine.

  13. bernstein

    August 9, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Hie jimmy i’m 17 about to turn 18 i have graduated once in seminary and haven’t been attending due to some pressure from school. So can i go to serve a mission?

    • Jimmy


      August 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Yes, you can still serve a mission. Seminary attendance is not required, though it is encouraged. Good luck.

  14. Nanu

    September 4, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I’m a convert and I’m hoping to go at the end of April. I’ve heard that your availability date can only be so far out. What is the maximum number of days that the date can be out from when submitting my papers?

    • Jimmy


      September 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      You can submit you mission papers a maximum of 120 days (4 months) prior to your availability date.

  15. Wendy

    November 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    i have been debating on serving a mission or not because i have a stress disorder and anxiety so i am feeling like i should but shouldnt go what should i do?

    • Chad

      January 28, 2014 at 10:59 am


      The safety and well-being of the missionary is always paramount. LDS Family services provides a service to help missionary candidates determine if the rigors of full time missionary service are appropriate in your case. I recommend that you give your local LDS Family Services office a call. If full time missionary service is not for you, there are many wonderful Church Service Mission opportunities. Best of luck!

  16. Chad

    January 28, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Just a quick comment on the application timeline. When the age requirement changed for missionary service, there were several other logistical items that came into play. For example, Bishops and Stake Presidents in the US have been instructed not to ordain missionaries to the Melchizedek Priesthood until after they were 18 AND graduated from High School. Since going to the temple requires this, it could mean that prospective missionaries have a busy summer if they intend to leave right after graduation. It is helpful to plan for this and to speak with your Bishop and Stake President to ensure that all the necessary interviews happen at the proper times.

  17. Sammy

    February 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    By availability date, do you mean 18 or 19? Like availability as in your birthday?

    • Jimmy


      February 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm


  18. Hayden Miller

    March 13, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Hey Jimmy,

    So In the chart it shows that you start your mission papers four months prior to availability. However in your article it says five months prior. Just not sure which is correct.

    • Jimmy


      March 14, 2014 at 10:50 am

      It’s five months. Somehow an old version of the chart/image got in there. I have corrected the page now. Thanks.

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