In the CONCACAF FIFA Zone – the continental union for North America, Central America and the Caribbean – 32 of the 35 countries will participate in the World Cup qualifiers. Host nations USA, Canada and Mexico are already automatically qualified. In total six, seven or eight of these countries will be present at the final round: the 2026 World Cup in North America with a total of 48 national teams participating. The groups and the schedule of the qualification series of the CONCACAF countries for the World Cup, with all matches, dates, and times, are listed here. The CONCACAF qualifiers will start March 18, 2024. See also: Draw qualification World Cup 2026.
The qualification series in the FIFA zone CONCACAF for the World Cup in 2026 will start in March 2024.
CONCACAF Qualification for World Cup 2026 | Qualifiers North America, Central America and the Caribbean
Update February 28, 2023: CONCACAF has announced the qualification format for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. This qualifying series in North America, Central America and the Caribbean consists of three continental rounds: Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3. Read more on this page.
Update February 14, 2023: The FIFA council has determined that the three host countries Canada, Mexico and the United States have automatically qualified. This leaves 32 of the 35 entrants for the CONCACAF qualification. They compete for the three other direct World Cup tickets. In addition, two countries from this FIFA zone qualify for the inter-confederation play-offs.
Format and dates World Cup qualifying series CONCACAF
The world football association has, February 28, 2023, made a decision about the schedule. In the qualification zone of The North American, Central American and Caribbean Football Confederation, the countries compete for six (minus three assigned to the 2026 World Cup hosts) to eight tickets for the World Cup on their own continent: North America. In addition to the CONCACAF qualifying rounds, the intercontinental play-offs are scheduled for two countries from this FIFA Zone.
The three host countries of the World Cup, the United States, Canada and Mexico, have already automatically qualified for the finals. This was officially confirmed at the FIFA Council on February 14, 2023. This decision is not only in line with the long standing tradition of having all hosts competing at the FIFA World Cup™, FIFA states, but also efficient on a sporting, organizational and operational level.
CONCACAF qualifiers First Round
Four CONCACAF countries will participate in the first round. These are the four countries that, looking at this FIFA Zone, are lowest in the FIFA Ranking. The measuring point of this world ranking will be November 2023. It concerns places 29, 30, 31 and 32. The other three of the in total 35 CONCACAF countries – hosts USA, Canada and Mexico – are already certain to participate in the World Cup.
When: March 18 – 26, 2024
Which countries will continue?
The four teams in Round 1 each play two games at this stage of CONCACAF Qualifiers: home and away against the same opponent. Numbers 29 and 32 face each other, as do numbers 30 and 31. Both winners advance to Round 2.
CONCACAF qualifiers Second Round
In the second round these teams will enter: the numbers 1 to 28 of the CONCACAF countries on the mentioned FIFA Ranking of November 2023. The two winners from the first round complete the field of 30 teams in this qualifying phase.
When: June 3, 2024 – June 2025
Which countries will continue?
A draw divides these thirty countries into six groups of five. In each group, each team plays a total of four matches: one against each of the four group opponents. Each country plays twice at home and twice away. Their goal is to finish in the group as number one or number two. The twelve countries that succeed in this proceed to the next qualifying round: Round 3.
CONCACAF qualifiers Third Round
In the third round there are twelve remaining teams: the numbers one and two of all six previous groups. A new draw divides them into three groups of four. In each group, a total of six matches are scheduled for each country. In accordance with the double round-robin format, each country plays each of the three opponents both at home and away.
When: September, October, November 2025
Which countries qualify for the World Cup?
The three group winners have reason to cheer: they qualify directly for the World Cup in North America. There is also an interesting perspective for the two best numbers two: they will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.
As mentioned, it is certain that the three host countries of the 2026 World Cup in North America will receive a World Cup ticket without having to play qualifying matches. The United States, Canada and Mexico will, therefore, be part of the World Cup soccer schedule in 2026.
It is also certain that three more CONCACAF countries will qualify through the regular, continental qualifying rounds. In addition to these six countries, the ‘Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football’ may provide one or two more countries. CONCACAF is the only FIFA Zone that will have two countries participating in the intercontinental play-offs. This means that the total number of countries from North America, Central America and the Caribbean at the 2026 FIFA World Cup can reach seven or eight.
CONCACAF Qualification for Soccer World Cup
These are the dates on which the qualifying races in this zone are scheduled.
The CONCACAF qualifying schedule will begin with the first round in the period from March 18 to 26, 2024. The longer second round will take place from June 3, 2024 to June 2025. The third qualifying round will be in September, October and November 2025. After that, two countries from this region are still awaiting the intercontinental play-offs.
From the first qualifying rounds, three CONCACAF nations will qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, in addition to the host countries United States, Canada and Mexico. That makes a total of six. Moreover, after the last round of the World Cup qualifying phase in this FIFA Zone, two CONCACAF countries will advance to the cross-continental play-offs.
Extra Round | Intercontinental Playoff | Last possible World Cup tickets for CONCACAF
After the regular qualification phase, two countries from the FIFA Zone CONCACAF will have a resit in the intercontinental World Cup 2026 qualification play-offs. Six countries from all over the world are participating in that mini-tournament. They come from five of the six FIFA confederations: AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), OFC (Oceania), CONMEBOL (South America) and CONCACAF (North America, Central America, and the Caribbean).
The European confederation, UEFA, will have no representative at these intercontinental 2026 World Cup play-offs, while CONCACAF will be allowed to deliver two countries as the upcoming World Cup host. The six play-off countries compete for the last two (of 48) tickets that entitle them to participate in the World Cup in the three North American countries USA, Canada and Mexico. Including these cross-continental play-offs, the total number of World Cup participants from the FIFA Zone CONCACAF could reach seven or eight.
Format cross-intercontinental playoffs
The format of the six-nation inter-confederation play-offs is as follows. The four (of the six) qualified countries that are at that moment lowest in the FIFA Ranking are linked by a draw. The two winners then play against the two countries that (of those six) are highest in the FIFA Ranking. The two winners of those last two games will eventually get the last World Cup tickets.
When: November 2025 (subject to change).
Countries qualifying for the 2026 World Cup from CONCACAF, AFC, CAF, OFC, CONMEBOL and UEFA
From the FIFA CONCACAF Zone, a minimum of six, a maximum of eight countries qualify for the World Cup. The total number of countries at the final round in 2026 is 48. This number is made up as follows.
|FIFA ZONE||QUALIFY FOR WORLD CUP FOOTBALL 2026 | AVAILABLE SLOTS FIFA CONTINENTS|
|AFC||Minimum 8, maximum 9 countries (possible +1 via intercontinental play-offs)|
|CONCACAF||Minimum 6, maximum 8 countries (possible +2 via intercontinental play-offs)|
Host countries USA, Canada and Mexico are already automatically qualified
|CONMEBOL||Minimum 6, maximum 7 countries (possible +1 via intercontinental play-offs)|
|OFC||Minimum 1, maximum 2 countries (possible +1 via intercontinental play-offs)|
|CAF||Minimum 9, maximum 10 countries (possible +1 via intercontinental play-offs)|
These are the 35 CONCACAF countries participating in the qualification for the 2026 World Cup
The following countries are from the FIFA Zone of the North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Confederation. Canada, Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica qualified for the last World Cup in 2022. At the previous FIFA World Cup, in Qatar, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica stranded in the group stage. The United States reached the eighth finals, in which the Netherlands turned out to be too strong.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- British Virgin Islands
- Canada World Cup host, automatically qualified
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Mexico World Cup host, automatically qualified
- Puerto Rico
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- US Virgin Islands
- USA World cup host, automatically qualified
See also: the positions of the CONCACAF teams in the FIFA Ranking.
When is the draw for qualification for the 2026 World Cup in the CONCACAF zone?
Which countries will play against each other in the World Cup qualification on the football continent of North America, Central America and the Caribbean? That partly depends on their position in the FIFA Ranking. Furthermore, a draw determines the CONCACAF groups and thus who will play against whom and when. The date of the draw of the Preliminaries in the CONCACAF Zone is still unknown. See also: Preliminary Draw World Cup Football.
The previous qualification – for the 2022 World Cup – in the Zone CONCACAF
The FIFA continent of North America, Central America and the Caribbean has 35 member countries. The 2022 World Cup qualifying series consisted of three rounds: simply the first, the second and the third round. The five countries from this zone that were highest in the FIFA Ranking at that time were set free for the first round. They were allowed to only enter Round 3. The thirty countries that were sixth to 35th in the CONCACAF-relevant places on the FIFA Ranking at that time, started the first qualifying round.
That first World Cup qualifying phase consisted of six groups of five countries each. In accordance with the single round-robin system, they each played four games: two away games and two home games. The six group winners qualified for Round 2. In that second round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualification, these six countries were drawn against each other for three mutual knockout matches. Those knockouts consisted of a first and second leg. The three winners advanced to the third round.
In Round 3, the five countries that ranked highest in the FIFA Ranking of the CONCACAF teams also entered. The eight remaining countries played matches in one joint pool; home and away against each of the other seven remaining teams. After these last fourteen games, the balance was made. The numbers 1 to 3 qualified directly for the 2022 World Cup. These were the USA, Canada and Mexico; exactly the upcoming hosts of the 2026 World Cup in North America. Number 4, Costa Rica, advanced to the intercontinental playoffs. From there, Costa Rica also managed to qualify from FIFA Zone CONCACAF for the final round of the previous World Cup, in Qatar.
The information on this page is based on the official information from the North American, Central American and Caribbean Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), current and subject to possible changes.