FIFA's executive committee has voted unanimously to end its policy of rotating the hosting of World Cups through its six continental confederations.
Executive committee vice president Chung Mong-joon told reporters on Monday 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 editions.
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.
The English FA chairman said the matter would be discussed at the association's next board meeting on Wednesday.
FIFA's change of heart means that the 2018 World Cup will be open to bids from all countries except those in Africa and South America.
South Africa was the first beneficiary of the short-lived rotation policy and is set to stage the next edition of the World Cup in 2010.
Brazil is the only candidate bidding to stage the 2014 World Cup in South America and is due to have its host status rubber-stamped by the executive committee on Tuesday.
The rotation principle had been expected to receive vigorous support from FIFA's Trinidadian vice president Jack Warner and American executive board member Chuck Blazer.
Warner and Blazer are the president and general secretary of the CONCACAF federation which would have been next to host the 2018 World Cup under the rotation principle.
Warner is currently involved in political elections back in Trinidad and did not attend Monday's meeting.
Blazer is understood to have proposed a motion whereby the rotation policy would be extended up until 2018 but did not then vote against the dropping of the policy.
The executive committee's decision is due to be confirmed at a media conference later on Monday.