Ivory Coast striker Drogba, who moved from Chelsea to Shanghai Shenhua in the summer, wanted to join a European side as soon as possible due to the Chinese season ending this month.
He had applied for special dispensation but, after considering his request, FIFA have told him he must wait.
This means he is unlikely to move at all as Ivory Coast take part in the African Cup of Nations, starting in mid January and ending in early February.
"Any professional player who is registered with a club that is affiliated to one association shall not be eligible to play for a club affiliated to a different association outside of the two fixed registration periods in each year," FIFA said.
Players can only move outside transfer windows if they are without a club following the expiration or termination of their contract, or if the transfer occurs within the same domestic federation, such as emergency loans deals seen in English football.
Similar situations to Drogba's had seen David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry forced to wait until January to complete loan moves to Milan, Everton, Aston Villa and Arsenal respectively.
Drogba, 34, has been linked with former clubs Chelsea and Marseille, and Liverpool, who are short on strikers.
He made the surprise move to China for a reported salary of £200,000 per week, but has repeatedly been the subject of rumours regarding a return to Europe.
The former Le Mans and Guingamp target man has scored eight goals in 11 matches for Shanghai, with his last act in a Chelsea shirt the winning penalty kick in the Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich.