Missionary Requirements

By on September 26, 2011

A reader emailed me and asked what are the requirements to serve a mission. It was then that I realized that I had never put all the qualifications for full-time missionary service in one place, so here we go.

Requirements to Serve a Mission Full-Time

Missionary putting on name tagThe Lord expect each able young man, and as many young women as have the desire, to prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially for full-time missionary service. Full-time missionary service is a privilege, not a right, and in order to qualify for this privilege, young men and women should meet the following qualifications:

  • Be worthy: The Lord expects young men and women to keep themselves clean and worthy, repent, keep the commandments, and live a righteous life. By so doing, they can have His Spirit and represent the Savior and His Church. For more information on this topic, see my post on what it means to be worthy to serve a mission.
  • Age requirements: Men should be ages 18 through 25 and able to serve for 24 months. Women should be ages 19 and up and able to serve for 18 months. There are some rare exceptions to the 18 year old rule for young men. If a young man’s father is a mission president, they may be able to go at a younger age.
  • Be single and unmarried. People who have been divorced, young men who have fathered a child, or young women who have given birth to a child are not normally recommended to serve full-time missions.
  • Be spiritually prepared: Spiritual preparation means reading the scriptures and praying regularly, building faith in Jesus Christ, and developing a testimony of the Lord’s true Church. It also means living the commandments and being an example to others of what it means to be a true follower of the Savior. Preparing spiritually also includes studying and understanding gospel principles, attending Church meetings regularly, and honoring the priesthood if you are a young man.
  • Be physically prepared: Missionary work can be very physically demanding. Many missionaries have to walk or ride bikes for as much as twelve hours a day. Before serving, a doctor must certify that the potential missionary is physically able to handle the work. A prospective missionary who has a physical disability or medical limitation may or may not be recommended to serve a mission depending on the severity of the issue. In many cases, people with physical disabilities or serious medical conditions can still be called to serve, but they often have restrictions placed on exactly how or where they go.
  • Be financially prepared: Future missionaries should begin at as early an age as possible to save money to pay for their mission expenses. Missionaries and their families should be prepared to make sacrifices to provide financial support for a mission. However, young people who are worthy should not be prevented from serving a mission solely for financial reasons when they and their families have made sacrifices according to their ability.
  • Be mentally and emotionally prepared: A mission requires young people to be of sound mind and emotionally capable of living and working independently. Candidates for missionary service who have previously had significant mental or emotional challenges must be stabilized and confirmed by a medical professional to be fully functional before being recommended for a mission. Young people who have severe mental or emotional challenges are honorably excused from missionary service, though many of them can, if they desire, participate as a Church Service Missionary.
  • Able to receive the Temple Endowment. Future missionaries are instructed to go to the temple to receive their endowment prior to starting their mission. This usually happens within a few weeks or a month of entering the MTC. This requirement also means, by implication, that potential missionaries should be a member for at least a year prior to beginning their missionary service.
  • Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination for young men. Young men should be given the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained to the office of an Elder prior to going on a mission and prior to receiving the temple endowment. Receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, like many of the other steps above, requires preparation and worthiness.
  • Receive a patriarchal blessing. For many youth, they will receive their patriarchal blessing long before, sometimes years before, going on a mission. There is no set age for receiving a patriarchal blessing, but missionaries are required to get it before entering the mission field.

Young men and women who meet these requirements can set up an interview with their bishop, begin filling out the mission paperwork, and complete the other steps of the mission call process.  Please remember that while full-time missionary service is a priesthood responsibility of young men, women should not feel obligated to serve missions.

Couples’ Full-Time Missionary Requirements

Senior couples’ requirements to serve a mission are similar in many repects to the young people, with some differences.

  • Age requirements: There really aren’t any, so long as the couple is physically, mentally, and emotionally able. There is a great variety of assignments that senior couples can be given ranging from some that are physically demanding to other that are not.
  • Married. The couple should be married (obviously otherwise you wouldn’t be a couple). Elderly single women can serve full-time missions, but elderly single men usually do not.
  • No children at home. The couple shouldn’t have any dependent children still living at home.
  • Able to serve for between 6 months and 2 years. Senior couples have the flexibility to choose the length of a mission that works for them.
  • Retired. Neither one of the couple should be engaged in full-time employment.
Jimmy

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.

47 Comments

  1. Pingback: Patriarchal Blessings — Mormon Mission Prep

  2. Mack Rad

    April 21, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Hello I am a South African. I want to serve a mission. In South Africa the average age we finish school is 18. Should I go on mission then come beack and get a 4 year Law degree. Also important to know that I have gotten a bursay/scholarship to study for the full years and I am wondering if I serve after I get my degree am I still going to get the same blessings as the person who goes at age 19?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      April 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      I would recommend going on a mission first and then coming back to get your 4 year Law degree. I think the Lord will bless you would you put the things of God first in your life. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Be prayerful. Perhaps fast as well. And seek to know the will of the Lord and I know he will guide you. May God bless and be with you.

  3. harry

    June 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Hello, am a nigerian and I am planning to go on mission, but am over 26 now by 7 months. My mission president has said I can’t go on mission anymore, what can I do because I still have that burning desire to serve a full time mission.

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      June 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Perhaps some day you will be able to serve a full-time mission. For now, though, it sounds like your missionary work is going to have to be to talk to your friends and family and neighbors about the gospel. Share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with all of those around you now and through the coming years. Though you can’t serve full time for the Lord, you can still be a member-missionary. Good luck and God bless.

  4. harry

    June 27, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Thank you

  5. Lou

    October 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Hi there.
    I am curious about something…but have been too afraid to ask my bishop about it. I am the only active member in my family, always have been since I was 14. My family does not support the church, pay tithing, or help the missionary fund.
    I am on my own for saving money for a mission. I am now 20…and have the desire to serve a mission with little money saved up. Can I still serve a mission due to my financial burden?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      October 10, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      It is possible that you may still be able to serve a mission. This is something you really should discuss with your bishop as soon as possible. As a general rule, the Church doesn’t want to prevent young people from serving missions due exclusively to financial reasons. With help from your bishop, the members of your ward, and other sources, there may be ways to supplement the money you have saved so you can go on a mission. Good luck, and God bless.

  6. lacey

    October 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    i am recently active in the church again, and i never took seminary in high school. is it true that you can’t go out of the country if you’ve never taken seminary? are there any other ways i can take a class or something to make up for it?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      October 29, 2012 at 8:07 am

      It seems you have received some bad information. There is no such requirement to attend seminary. The prophet will send you on a mission to wherever he feels inspired to send you. And until your call comes, please continue your mission preparation, reading your scriptures, praying, building your testimony, saving money, etc. God bless.

      • Buffy

        November 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

        Some countries require a visa. With that visa the government of that country can require religious training. Seminary fills that requirement. However, there are many countries that do not require a visa and the Lord will send you where you are needed.

  7. Janice

    December 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Is there an education requirement, as in high school or equivalency? I know it asks for that information on the application but I am unclear if it is absolutely required.

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      December 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      The Church is a big proponent of education and encourages all young people to prepare themselves for life by getting a good education. The prophet has made it clear that 18-year-olds are not to go on a mission until they have finished high school or its equivalent. But for missionaries that are older than that, 19, 20, 21, etc., I don’t think it is a firm requirement. Having said that, if a bishop or local priesthood leader feels that someone in that older range should get their high school equivalency prior to their mission, then that is what you would need to do. I hope this help. Good luck and God bless.

      • Prosper

        July 4, 2013 at 12:02 am

        Hi jimmy
        lm now preparing for mission but l want to ask that when l finished my mission l need to do a certain course for computers and l have five subjects exclude maths is it possible for me to attend BYU

  8. hunter

    January 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    i’ve heard rumors that jaundice does and doesn’t effect where i can go for my mission. does jaundice affect where i could go on my mission?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      January 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      It could potentially effect where you are able to go on a mission. But I am not very familiar with this condition. On the medical forms on your mission application, you and your doctor will provide more details on your condition. Doctors at Church headquaters will also review your medical history and your doctor’s recommendation, and then determine what geographic limitations should exist on your mission call. I hope this helps. Good luck and God bless.

  9. hunter

    January 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    does jaundice affect where i could go on my mission?

  10. yolo

    January 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    so sexist towards women

  11. samantha

    March 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Hello,
    Im 16, still in high school, i have two more years to think about going on a mission. And if i do go, i would be the first to go. I have this missionary coming to visit me and my family and they really inspire me to go, but then i’m scared to on one. they make it so easy to just leave everything behind and i don’ t want to start a mission and then find out i wasn’t strong enough to stick it throw. Guess i’m trying to say do you have any advice.. please and thank you
    have a great day …

  12. Kristian Bahamonde

    March 18, 2013 at 6:33 am

    I have been a Member of the church for 7 years now and I have a desire to serve a Mission im just very confused about it. I love this church more then anything and i have a strong testimonie. the church has not only changed my life but it has saved my life. I cry every morning thanking the lord for putting the gospel in my life. I am the only active priesthood holder in my family. My mom is return missionary and she went inactive for many years I brought her back when I was baptised. My Dad is a return missionaire went inactive and is still inactive
    My grandfather was a return missionaire, bishop, and a stake president he went inactive and is still inactive to this day.
    I dont want to go through that same path. I need some advice can someone help please.

  13. Sarah

    April 1, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Hi,
    I’m wondering if you can also serve a mission as a “fresh-married” couple? So if you’re just married and don’t have any children and decide to go on a mission with your partner, would that be possible?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      April 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      Sorry, the only full-time missions available to married couples are for senior missionaries. But the prophets have long taught that every member should be a missionary, so hopefully you and your husband can be great member-missionaries and share the gospel with many of your friends and neighbors.

      • Prosper

        July 4, 2013 at 12:04 am

        Hi jimmy
        lm now preparing for mission but l want to ask that when l finished my mission l need to do a certain course for computers and l have five subjects exclude maths is it possible for me to attend BYU

  14. John Abdallah

    April 21, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Hello. I am 22 years old and I am a medical student in Ukraine. I would like to go and serve on a mission for the LDS Church. I am actually studying on my 2nd year to become a Dentist. Do I have to go back to my native country to be able to serve?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      April 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      You do not have to return to your native country to be able to serve a mission. Just talk to your bishop of where you live now, and he will help you get the mission application started. Good luck and God bless.

  15. Markus Nielsen

    April 29, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Hi I’m 18 and I was wondering if you can still serve a mission even if you didn’t graduate seminary?

  16. Tamasinia

    June 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    My husband is no longer a member, but he promised me before we were married many years ago that we could serve a mission together. I am nearing retirement age and would like to serve a mission. What does the church suggest that I do so I can serve a proselyting mission? Please answer by email. Thanks

  17. Prosper

    July 4, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Hi jimmy
    lm now preparing for mission but l want to ask that when l finished my mission l need to do a certain course for computers and l have five subjects exclude maths is it possible for me to attend BYU

  18. Sami Seminary

    July 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I hope to serve a mission, but I am told by my parents I may not be able to. I’ll pray and hope I’m better by then but until then I will be the best member missionary I can be and support my friends going on their missions:)

  19. Lee

    August 5, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Hi I was wondering how long the missionary health and dental forms are valid for? so if my birthday is in september and wanted I hand in my papers in June, when is the earliest time I can get my health and dental checks done. thank you.

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      August 5, 2013 at 8:53 am

      The medical and dental forms filled out by your doctors are valid for one year. In the application process, in the part submitted by your stake, the Church specifically asks if the evaluations have been performed within the last year. You should be aware, though, that when Church headquarters is processing your paperwork, if medical questions come up and your forms are close to a year old, they may ask you to go back to the doctor for an updated check up.

      • zoey

        August 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm

        Will I still be able to go on a mission if I have some gingivitis?(if the section that says ” has all gum infection been resolved?” is marked no.)

        • Jimmy

          Jimmy

          August 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

          I don’t know the answer to your question. I suspect it is possible that this could prevent your mission call, but it is unlikely. The form asks for comments from the dentist including a list of work that still needs to be completed and the date it is scheduled to be done. If the dentist puts in the comments that there is some remaining gingivitis but that it will be resolved or under control during your mission by regular brushing and flossing, then I don’t think you’ll have any problems getting your mission call. Good luck, and God bless you.

  20. Yves

    August 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    hello
    i have a tattoo on my right hand ; is it possible for me to serve a mission ?
    it will not be an obstacle for me?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      August 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      You should be able to serve, but be sure to talk it over with your bishop. There is no rule banning people with tattoos from serving missions. You don’t see many missionaries with tattoos because most active LDS youth avoid such practices, and even if they have one, it is pretty easy to cover up most tattoos considering the missionary dress code. Good luck in your continued missionary preparation. God bless you.

  21. George

    November 11, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Im in dilemma, I have had this burning desire to serve a mission however, I fall into the category of “young men who have fathered a child” it doesn’t say in the article that young men who have a child aren’t allowed to go on a mission all it states is that theyre no NORMALLY recommended to go, quick query, are there some cases where young men who have fathered a child if found worthy allowed to go on a mission?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      November 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Yes, based on that wording, I am led to believe there are exceptions, but I’m guessing they are pretty rare. I can’t tell you what those exceptions might be because I just don’t know. You’ll really ought to talk to your bishop. Only he, together with your stake president, could recommend you for a mission. Regardless of what happens on your ability to serve a full-time mission, you can always be a missionary in your regular life, sharing the gospel with your family and friends and all those around you. Good luck, and God bless you.

  22. Damien McNamara

    December 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I am 19 years old almost 20 years old want to get my own endowment I don`t wait and also I don`t to on a mission or get married because I have a disability

  23. Zoey

    January 27, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I leave for the MTC in two days and I won’t be able to get two teeth pulled. Being in the military I had I wait for certain green lights and paperwork. They also do things on there schedule so by time I received the ok the doctor wouldn’t pull my teeth because it was to close to my report date. How will this effect me when I arrive at the MTC? Will they do it there or send me home? Or will they not do anything if I’m not complaining?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      January 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      I’ll give you my advice, but you really need to talk to your bishop, stake president, and perhaps the MTC or the Church missionary department. I would go ahead and go to the MTC at your scheduled time. If necessary, you can go to the dentist while in the MTC to have your teeth pulled.
      Good luck and God bless.

  24. Casey Sparling

    March 18, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I am 26 years old now, ill be 27 in July and am divorced with no kids would I still be able to go on a mission, is there any slight chance at all that I could still go?

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      March 19, 2014 at 7:27 am

      Single men who are over the age of 25 are not allowed to go on missions. There may be a one in a million exception to that rule, so talk to your bishop. Single women can go on a mission at any age. The fact that you were married and divorced would likely be a factor in whether or not your bishop would recommend you for missionary service, so again, you’ll need to talk to him. Remember, that whether or not you are allowed to go on a full time mission, you can dedicate your life to serving the Lord and be a great missionary among your family, friends, and neighbors. Good luck and God bless.

  25. Frank Tafadzwa

    April 20, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Can I serve a mission whilst on hypertension medication

  26. Luis

    June 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I Am Currently Preparing To Serve On A Mission, & I Have A Question About Wisdom Teeth. Are Prospective Missionary Required To Have Their Wisdom Teeth Pulled & What If My Orthodontist Says It Isn’t Necessary For My Wisdome Teeth To Be Pulled What Do I Do Then? My Orthodontist Is Also A Member Of The Church & I Get My Braces Off Next Week. This Information Is Crucial Because I Would Like To Tell My Orthodontist What I Was Told By A Rep Of The Church. Thank You For Your Time

    • Jimmy

      Jimmy

      June 12, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Luis, I am not a representative of the Church. I’m just a private member of the Church providing a service with my website. Wisdom teeth are not required to be pulled as an absolute requirement for all missionaries. If the dentist says your wisdom teeth may be an issue during the two years of your mission, then they should be removed before your mission. If the dentist says it isn’t necessary, then you don’t have to have your wisdom teeth removed. I hope this helps. -Jimmy

  27. Korban

    July 3, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Why is there an age cap of 25 for young men? I’m 23 and have been wrestling with the Money, or Mission question. I have a year before I can attend the Temple, or be Ordained and elder. I fear if I don’t go. I’ll recieve “the greater condemnation”. I also fear what I’ll miss of the world in two years.

  28. Brian

    July 20, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    For about a year I have considered seeking answers on whether it is possible for a single man to serve a second mission. The desire to serve once again has been burning within me. I returned from a full-time two year mission about 3 years and 8 months ago. I turned 25 not too long ago. I have since graduated with a bachelor’s degree and am slated to begin law school in the fall. I do not want to ask my leaders because I can just imagine them telling me to get on with my life, get married, etc. I have sought to do just that since I have been home- I know such blessings will come in the future. Is there even a slight chance that a single man can serve a year mission if he had the means to do so?

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