FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said the October 17 rankings would be used instead of the rankings at the time of the draw in Brazil on December 6.
England are currently ranked 17th but, if Roy Hodgson's team qualify, it now looks impossible for his side to be seeded and instead they would join the European pot with other non-seeded teams.
Had FIFA used the December rankings, then wins for England in their two November games - possibly friendlies against Germany and Uruguay, or World Cup qualifying play-offs - could have seen them surge up the ranking table.
England now face being grouped with at least one top-eight side, or hosts Brazil, and that would make the task of qualifying for the knock-out stages much tougher.
Valcke, speaking at a press conference in Zurich on Friday, said it was fairer to use the October rankings as thereafter, countries involved in the competitive play-offs would get more ranking points than those just playing friendlies.
Spain sit top of FIFA's rankings, followed by Argentina, Germany, Italy, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Brazil.