Requirements To Be President

Presidential Seal
To become United States President, you need to be a natural born US citizen.

These days, it seems that anyone can run for office to be the United States president.

So we may end up with an actual realistic choice between a Democratic Party Nominee and a Republican Party Nominee, but the original field is broad for a presidential election.

Qualifications To Become President

There are zero academic qualifications to become the United States President. You may have a Law degree from Harvard or not have finished school. Everyone has an equal right to run for president despite their qualifications.

This differs from the requirements to become president.

Requirements To Become United States President

While you might expect a massive list of requirements to be president and make sure we get the best possible candidates, that isn’t the case.

Stage for political rally
There are surprisingly few stipulations to run for United States President.

A lack of amendments to the United States Constitution means that the only qualifications relate to residency, a minimum age, and previous terms in office.

Additionally, you must be a United States citizen. From there, pretty much anyone can put themselves forward.

There is nothing about upper age limits, health, or criminal convictions. You have to meet the minimum requirements, get on the ballot, and then you can hope for the nomination.

2020 presidential election

2020 was the perfect year for highlighting the lack of restrictions and the potential need for further amendments.

Biden supporter
The 2020 presidential election led some to argue that there should be more restrictions on who can bid for the White House.

The final candidates for the Republicans and Democrats were reality TV star Donald Trump and 78-year-old Joe Biden.

Biden has previous political experience. Therefore, the race for the presidency felt like a logical career move.

After one term in the White House, President Trump had the experience, but nothing prior.

Meanwhile, Kanye West put himself in the running, showing that anyone that wants to run can at least try. The reason for this comes down to the wording of the United States Constitution.

How To Run for President

The original Constitution contains Article 2, which addresses the constitutional requirements for running for the president and the vice president.

President Biden
Joe Biden was 78 years old when he was sworn in as president.

It applied to the role at the time of the formation of the USA and remains in place today. The article states the following three clauses:

  1. First, the president has to be a natural born US citizen.
  2. The president has to have a minimum age of at least 35 years old
  3. The president has to have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.

These three key points highlight potential issues with the process.

The third requirement caused a furor about Barack Obama‘s birth certificate during his race for the White House.

It is also why UK PM Boris Johnson could run if he moved to the US, reclaimed his dual-citizenship, and waited 14 years.

A natural born US citizen

Furthermore, there are some interesting questions about the term “natural born citizen.”

United States Passport
Only natural born citizens can run for president.

United States territories don’t have the same rights as states but allow US citizenship for children born there.

For example, those born in Puerto Rico after 1940 are natural born citizens and eligible to run for president.

However, military bases in foreign countries aren’t considered US soil, so children born there aren’t natural born citizens. Instead, they gain citizenship from their parents. Subsequently, they cannot run for president due to their birthplace.

Other Important Criteria Aren’t Taken Into Consideration

There are factors that the American public would consider highly important when choosing a candidate, yet they aren’t mentioned in the current regulations and guidelines.

This includes:

  • An upper age limit for candidates.
  • The health of the candidate.
  • The possession of a criminal record.
handcuffs
A criminal record does not preclude a citizen from running for president.

Age of Presidential Candidate

There is no upper age limit for the president. Age has garnered criticism because of the negative implications of swearing in a senior citizen.

President Joe Biden was 78, and there are questions over why the Democrats couldn’t have found a younger, fitter, more relatable candidate.

The 25th Amendment and the Presidential Succession Act say that in the case that Joe Biden would be unfit to be president, the vice president would step up to be the acting president.

How old do you have to be to run for president?

There is no upper age to run for president so that you could be the oldest person on earth.

There is a minimum age to run for president, which is 35.

Medical Health Issues

A related concern is that presidential candidates don’t have to publicize their medical history or information about current health issues.

Doctor
Presidential candidates are not required to reveal their medical history.

While there is an argument for allowing candidates their privacy, others argue that it helps know candidates are fit for office.

That doubt increases when your candidates are 74 and 78. A medical exam requirement could put voters’ minds at ease and lead to discrimination against specific disabilities and mental health conditions.

A US President With a Criminal Record

Nothing prevents you from assuming the role if you have a criminal record. This is a surprise to some voters who expect their candidates to respect the law and be model citizens.

While some voters could overlook some more minor state-level crimes that are inconsequential, more significant federal crimes are another matter.

The 22nd Amendment on the Maximum Number of Terms in Office

Initially, there was no limit to the number of terms that a president could stand for. However, as George Washington stood twice, there was an unwritten agreement that any president would stand down after two terms.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to the White House on four occasions.

This changed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was elected to office in the executive branch on four occasions, and the 22nd Amendment discusses the number of terms that a president can serve.

The 22nd Amendment came into effect via ratification on 27 February 1951. It states that a candidate may only be elected to the office of president for a total of two terms or eight years.

These terms don’t have to be consecutive, but you can’t run for a third. The Amendment came about after the four-term presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

President Trump could return

It is unclear if Donald Trump will attempt to run again in 2024 or head back into other ventures. If he wanted to, the 22nd Amendment would allow him the right to put his name forward and try again.

On the other hand, Barack Obama won two terms back-to-back, so he is ineligible to run again no matter how many votes he would receive.

Qualified Candidates Then Face a Simple Process To Run for US President

If you meet all of the criteria, running for president is surprisingly streamlined. There is a 4-step process to run when you meet the requirements.

First, fill out a statement of candidacy form – something not always necessary unless you’ve received more than $5,000 for your bid.

Then, get on the ballot for your chosen party or as an independent.

Once you’re on, you can participate in the debates to get the vote in the primaries. But, of course, you would usually also run the ticket with a vice president.

If you win the nomination, you can continue on the election trail and wait for the final vote from the Electoral College.

Minimal Requirements and Qualifications

In short, the presidential requirements and qualifications are short, sweet, and relatively unchanged from the days of the constitution.

So if you are a natural-born citizen with 14 years of residency, are over 35, haven’t served two terms before, and are willing to go through the process, you have a chance (however slight) to get elected.

Requirements and Qualifications To Become the US President Quiz

If you would like to download a PDF with our quiz, then please go to: 

Download the quiz PDF

Alternatively, you can take our online quiz here:

Constitution Quiz: Requirements and Qualifications To Become the US President

Is a person born in Puerto Rico eligible to run for the Presidency as a natural-born citizen?
Does a person who wants to run for President have to provide details on one’s medical history or any ongoing health concerns?
How many terms could you serve as the President?
What is the minimum age you must be to run for President?
If a person was born on a military base in a foreign country, would that someone be considered a natural- born citizen who could run for President?
Can you run for the Presidency if you have a criminal record?
The rule on how many terms you can serve as the President is listed through:
Anyone who wants to run for President must be under this age:
When you get on the Presidential ballot, you can do so as one of these:
The rules surrounding the requirements for running for the Presidency are in the Constitution under:
If you were to fill out a statement of candidacy form to plan a run for President, how much money should you have received for your bid before filling out that form?
How long do you have to have been a resident of the United States if you want to run for President

3 Responses

  1. Presidential candidate should have mental health checks.also after entering the WH.
    Half way through their term they should be checked again. We deserve to know they’re healthy after all we elected them to protect us.

  2. You do realize the President is a citizen of the United States and is protected by HIPAA.
    Discloser would make that law moot

  3. Greetings Sarge. (USAF E-4 here.) While I agree with 100% of your post, HIPAA could be amended to exclude President/Vice President from protection. However, given the gross polarity between both parties, one side would support an amendment with the other rejecting it.
    Could it happen? Certainly.
    Will it happen? Not in our lifetime. Not unless the polarization ends.

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