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 the 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.
Instead, England would be faced with being in a group 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.
England were seeded for the group phase of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and finished second to the USA.
Valcke said it was fairer to use the October rankings as after that countries involved in the competitive play-offs would get more ranking points than those just playing friendlies.
The current top eight in FIFA's rankings are Spain in first place, followed by Argentina, Germany, Italy, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Brazil.