Fifa has dropped its policy of rotating the World Cup between continents.
Executive committee vice president Chung Mong-joon told reporters that the rotation policy had been dropped with effect from the 2018 World Cup.
Chung said that all associations would be free to apply to host future World Cup tournaments, providing they did not belong to confederations that had hosted the two preceding finals.
The executive committee’s decision was confirmed by England’s FIFA vice president Geoff Thompson, who said England would now consider mounting a formal bid to stage the 2018 event.
“We welcome the decision made by the FIFA executive committee and will now consider our position,” Thompson said.
England has been tipped to bid for the 2018 finals and FA chief executive Brian Barwick said: “It is exactly what we were hoping for and we will now discuss a timetable for a potential bid.”
A number of other contenders are expected to bid to host the 2018 finals, including China and Russia.
For 2018, the new rules means that there can be no bids from Africa or South America, with South Africa hosting the tournament in 2010 and Brazil expected to be confirmed as 2014 hosts this week.
Barwick added: “We have already received tremendous support from prime minister Gordon Brown and the government, and we all recognise the importance of government support in any bidding process.
“We realise there will be strong competition involved in any bidding process, but we know that England has fantastic stadiums, a unique tradition and passion for the game and also a very strong infrastructure already in place.
“If we do bid, and England is awarded the 2018 World Cup, I’m sure it would be brilliant for English football and the whole country.”