The FA made 737 places available in the FA Cup for the 2019–20 season, an increase in two on the previous season, due to the need to produce an extra qualifier at the second qualifying round, following a shortfall in teams at step 2 of the National League System. The 92 teams from the EFL and Premier League received direct entry to the competition proper. The remaining 644 teams, from the National League System (levels 5–10 of the English football league system), entered into the qualifying competition consisting of six rounds of preliminary (2) and qualifying (4) knockout matches.
With 889 eligible entrants, more than the number of places available, teams from level 10 of the English football league system were accepted up to the point at which the 737 places were full, based on a random draw. This reflected the cancellation of level 10 leagues in 2019–20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus the absence of league placings on which to base qualification, as had been used in previous seasons. The pandemic also led to the removal of replays from the qualifying competition, in order to fit with a delayed start following the extended 2019-20 football season, and a reduction in the prize fund, with figures returning to those last used in the 2017–18 FA Cup.
Planned dates for the ealy qualifying rounds were released to clubs in the National League System in late July, and confirmed by the FA on the 3rd August 2020. With replays removed from qualifying, several rounds are scheduled for Tuesdays rather than the usual Saturday.
Extra Preliminary Round fixtures were played on 31 August – 3 September 2020. The draw was made on 18 August 2020. A total of 368 teams, from Level 8, Level 9 and Level 10 of English football, entered at this stage of the competition, 20 of which were making their first appearance in the competition. This round contained 74 teams from Level 10.
This draw was also made on 18 August 2020, and saw another 136 clubs joining the 184 winners from the previous round. Ties are set to be played between Friday 11 September and Monday 14 September 2020. This round contained 26 teams from Level 10.
The draw for the first qualifying round was made on 14 September 2020, and saw another 74 clubs from Level 7 joining the 160 winners from the Preliminary round. Ties are set to be played between Monday 21 September and Wednesday 23 September 2020. This round contained 6 teams from Level 10.
The draw for the second qualifying round was made on 25 September 2020, and sees 43 clubs from Level 6 joining the 117 winners from the First Qualifying round. Ties are set to be played between Saturday 3 October and Sunday 4 October 2020. This round contains 2 teams from Level 10, Saltash United F.C. and Risborough Rangers F.C..
The draw for the third qualifying round was made on 5 October 2020, and consists solely of the 80 winners from the Second Qualifying Round. Ties are set to be played on Tuesday 13 October and Wednesday 14 October 2020. This round included five teams from Level 9, these being Longridge Town, Skelmersdale United, Chatham Town, Sheppey United, and Christchurch, the lowest-ranked teams left in the competition.
The draw for the fourth qualifying round was made on 15 October 2020, and sees 23 clubs from Level 5 joining the 40 winners from the Third Qualifying round. Ties will be played the weekend of Saturday 24 October 2020. This round includs one team from Level 9, Skelmersdale United, the lowest-ranked team left in the competition. Due to the liquidation of Macclesfield Town, there was an odd number of teams competing in this round. As a result, Chorley were drawn to receive a bye to the First Round Proper.
The qualifying rounds are not covered by the FA Cup's broadcasting contracts held by BBC Sport and BT Sport, although one game per round will be broadcast by the BBC on its media platforms. In addition, Hashtag United streamed their 2nd Round Qualifying game live on Twitch.