Planning When to Serve a Mission
If you want to start or finish your mission at a certain time, the Submission Planning Tool and the Mission Release Date Planning Tool can help you determine when to submit your recommendation. You and your family should also prayerfully consider the following points when deciding when to submit your recommendation.
Choosing the Right Time
When President Thomas S. Monson announced that young men could serve missions at age 18 and young women could serve at age 19, he added: “I am not suggesting that all young men [or young women] will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available” (“Welcome to Conference,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 4–5).
Many prospective missionaries plan their availability date—the earliest date they will be available to begin serving—based on the school year. In the Northern Hemisphere, this means that a high number of missionaries begin their service in July, August, or September. If this schedule is the best option for you, you are encouraged to plan your service accordingly.
However, you may benefit from taking a few more months to prepare for missionary service. If you might normally begin service in July, August, or September, choosing to start your mission between November and May could allow you to gain useful life experience that will help you prepare for a mission, such as serving in the temple, attending a semester of college, working to save money, living with roommates, or attending a young single adult ward.
In addition, if you start your service outside of peak times, you will typically receive more attention at the missionary training center (MTC) and in the field and be trained by more experienced missionaries.
Choosing to spend more time preparing to serve does not mean you are any less willing, worthy, or obedient. Your family, friends, and leaders can help you prepare by encouraging you to choose the best timing option for you.
Balancing the Number of Missionaries
Beginning missionary service in November through May also helps balance the number of missionaries starting their missions throughout the year. Many missionaries start their service in July, August, and September, while fewer missionaries start between November and May.
This peak in the number of missionaries can lead to crowding at MTCs and create challenges for mission presidents, who must adjust for a fluctuating missionary force at different times of the year.
The following tools can help you determine the submission and availability dates that will allow you to begin serving or return home on your desired start or release date. The submission date is the day the stake president submits the recommendation, and the availability date is the earliest date a missionary is available to begin service.
Remember that completing medical exams and recommendation forms can take up to several months. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to fill out the recommendation early enough for your stake president to submit it by the desired date.
Please note that stake presidents cannot submit a recommendation more than 120 days before your availability date. Any special timing considerations should be included on the recommendation form.
Mission Release Date Planning Tool
This tool will help you determine which submission and availability dates will increase your chances of being released by a certain date.
The chart below indicates which submission and availability dates are most and least likely to result in your release by the desired date.
* For elders, if you plan to serve before you turn 19, your availability date must be after your 18th birthday and high school graduation. For sisters, your availability date must be after your 19th birthday.
Asking for an Early Release
It is expected that missionaries serve their full term of service (24 months for elders and 18 months for sisters). Please do not ask your mission president to release you earlier than your assigned release date. We encourage you to use the provided tools to plan the timing of your mission before submitting your recommendation.
Submission Planning Tool
This tool will help you determine when your recommendation should be submitted by your stake president to increase the likelihood of starting your mission at a certain time.