The procedures for earning and receiving Merit Badges can be found in the Introduction to Merit Badges. Current requirements for all Merit Badges can be found on our Merit Badge Requirements pages. The requirements for all Merit Badges are listed in the current Scouts BSA Requirements book (#33216).
A list of all Merit Badges, with the pamphlet stock numbers, copyright and latest revision dates, and the date of the most recent revision to the requirements is also available.
Age Requirement Eligibility
Merit badges, badges of rank, and Eagle Palms may be earned by registered Scouts, including Lone Scouts, and by qualified Venturers or Sea Scouts who are not yet 18 years old. Venturers and Sea Scouts qualify by achieving First Class rank as a Scout or Lone Scout (or as a Varsity Scout prior to Jan. 1, 2018). The only exceptions for those older than age 18 are related to Scouts registered beyond the age of eligibility and those who have been granted time extensions to complete the Eagle Scout rank.
On February 1, 2019, the Boy Scouts of America began admitting girls into Scouts BSA. As part of that change to the program, BSA has established some temporary transition rules, and published those rules in early October 2018.
In general, the following rules will be in effect from February 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019.
- Youth 16 years of age or older, but not yet 18, on February 1, 2019 who register as members of Scouts BSA on or before December 31, 2019, may request extensions to complete the Eagle Scout Award requirements after they turn 18 years of age.
- Requests for extensions must be received no later than thirty (30) days after turning 18 years of age. Extensions must be in writing by submitting the designated form to the National Service Center and the form must be received no later than January 7, 2020. Only the National Council may grant extensions. The actual extension will be based upon the individual’s registration date and age at the time of the request and will provide not more than twenty-four months from the date of initial registration to complete all requirements.
- In the interest of fairness, these temporary transition rules apply to all youth joining Scouts BSA during 2019–both girls and first-time joining boys.
A copy of the document they released can be obtained, by Clicking here.
Members of Older Scout Patrols (formerly called Venture Patrols) within Scouts BSA Troops are NOT eligible for Venturing and/or Sea Scouting awards unless they are also registered in a Venturing Crew and/or Sea Scout Ship, and then they may earn those awards only in the Venturing/Sea Scouting units.
Annually, Boy Scouts of America issues a Booklet, entitled Scouts BSA Requirements which lists the current requirements for all Scouts BSA Rank Advancements, Merit Badges, and Special Opportunities, and some supporting information.
Revisions to rank and/or merit badge requirements
The Guide to Advancement, in section 22.214.171.124, provides the rules regarding how to handle rank advancements when the requirements change. That information (relative to Scouts BSA ranks) is as follows:
126.96.36.199 Changes to Requirements
Advancement requirements change from time to time. For Boy Scouting, check the latest annual edition of Scouts BSA Requirements. Once a new or revised requirement appears in that publication, which is released each January, any Scout beginning work on his next rank or Eagle Palm must use the new or revised requirement as stated there.
If a new or revised rank or Eagle Palm requirement is first introduced in a reprinting of the Scout Handbook after the January release of the Scouts BSA Requirements book, then the Scout has until the following January 1 to decide what to do. He may either continue—or begin work—using the old requirements, or he may switch to—or begin work—using the new requirements. If he chooses to use the old requirements, he may continue using them until he has completed the rank. Sometimes, however—especially for more significant changes—the Scout Handbook, the Scouts BSA Requirements book, or official communications from the National Council may set forth a different procedure that must be used and may establish a date by when use of the old requirements must cease.
For handling changes to merit badge requirements, see “What to Do When Requirements Change,” 188.8.131.52.
If BSA membership eligibility rules change, and as a result a former member rejoins a BSA program, still as a youth member, then that youth may carry on in the advancement program, picking up where he left off when last he was a member, but not receiving credit for activities while not registered. A former member who is no longer eligible to participate in a BSA program as a youth member due to age, for example, can neither receive credit for completing advancement requirements nor be awarded any advancement-oriented recognition such as ranks or merit badges, etc., that under the rules in effect at the time of his youth membership he was ineligible to earn.
In addition, as noted above, 2019 Scouts BSA Requirements Booklet has this statement:
The requirements listed in this Scouts BSA Requirements book for rank advancement, Eagle Palms, and merit badges are the official requirements of the Boy Scouts of America and are effective Jan 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2019. However, the requirements on the following pages might not match those in the Scouts BSA handbooks and the merit badge pamphlets, because this publication is updated only on an annual basis. The most current and any updated merit badge requirements can be found at www.scouting.org/meritbadges.
Similarly, the Guide to Advancement, in section 184.108.40.206, covers the rules regarding how to handle merit badges when those requirements change. That information is as follows:
220.127.116.11 What to Do When Requirements Change
The current annual edition of Scouts BSA Requirements lists the official merit badge requirements. Once new or revised merit badge requirements appear in this publication, which is released each January, any Scout just beginning work on a merit badge must use the requirements as stated there.
If changes to merit badge requirements are introduced in a revised merit badge pamphlet after the January release of the Boy Scout Requirements book, then the Scout has until the following January 1 to decide what to do. He may continue—or begin work—using the old merit badge requirements and the old pamphlet; or he may switch to—or begin work—using the new requirements and the new pamphlet. Unless it is otherwise stated in the merit badge pamphlet, Scouts BSA Requirements, or official communications from the National Council, if a Scout chooses to use the old merit badge requirements and pamphlet, he may continue using them until he has completed the badge.
There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge, although a counselor may determine so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements must be used.
The authoritative source for all merit badge requirements is the current year’s Scouts BSA Requirements book.
Advancement Transfers for Foreign Scouts
Questions arise occasionally on whether a Scout moving to the USA from another country can use the advancements he had earned in that country toward advancement in a BSA Troop or Team. For the answer, click here.
The following requirements apply to youth registered in the Venturing Program or Sea Scouting.
- Any Venturer or Sea Scout who has achieved the First Class rank as a Scout or Lone Scout (or as a Varsity Scout prior to Jan. 1. 2018) may continue advancement up to their 18th birthday toward the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks, and Eagle Palms. Qualified Venturers and Sea Scouts must meet the requirements as prescribed in the official Scouts BSA handbooks and the Scouts BSA Requirements book.
- The Venturer may fulfill leadership requirements by serving as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, den chief, historian, guide, quartermaster, chaplain aide, or outdoor ethics guide.
- The Sea Scout may fulfill leadership requirements by serving as boatswain, boatswain's mate, purser, yeoman, storekeeper, crew leader, media specialist, specialist, den chief, or chaplain aide.
- The unit leader conference will be conducted by the Advisor or Skipper. As the Venturer or Sea Scout fulfills requirements for the Star and Life ranks, a board of review must be conducted by the crew or ship committee according to the procedures established by the National Council as published in the Guide to Advancement. Eagle Scout boards of review are conducted in accordance with the Guide to Advancement and procedures established by the local council.
Explorers (participants in the Exploring program) are ineligible for Scouts BSA advancement unless they are also registered as members of a Scouts BSA Troop, a Venturing Crew, and/or a Sea Scout Ship, or as a Lone Scout.
Sources: Scouts BSA Requirements 2019 (33216) and
Guide to Advancement 2017 (33088)