Absentee Voting Procedure

Now all U.S. citizens can receive their blank ballots electronically. Depending on the state in which you are eligible to vote, you may get your ballot by email, fax, or internet download. To start, go to to complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) online. Print and sign the form then return it to your local election office in the United States, using the contact information available for your state at

If you request electronic delivery and include your email address or fax number on the FPCA, you’ll receive your blank ballot 45 days before general and mid-term elections and generally 30 days before special, primary, and run-off elections for federal offices. Most states now have voter registration verification websites, and many offer a means of tracking the status of your registration and ballot.

Important Note: States are no longer required to automatically send ballots to voters for an entire election cycle so everyone who wants to vote in U.S. elections from overseas should send in a new Federal Post Card Application in January of each year.

Most Americans living abroad should be able to vote in U.S. federal elections in 2016.  Voting is coordinated through state authorities, so overseas voters need a connection of some kind with a U.S. state in order to vote.

Your “legal state of residence” for voting purposes is the State or territory where you last resided immediately prior to your departure from the United States. This applies to overseas citizens even though you may not have property or other ties in your last State of residence and your intent to return to that State may be uncertain.

Some States allow children of U.S. citizens residing overseas who are U.S. citizens but who have never resided in the U.S., to claim one of their parent’s legal State of residence as their own. Direct your questions about eligibility to your local election officials.


No. The only way to vote from overseas is by absentee ballot.

Staff at the American Citizen Services can answer your questions about voting from abroad or provide you with forms, but it is not possible to vote in-person at the Embassy.

Complete your ballot carefully and legibly, and return it to your local election officials before your state’s ballot receipt deadline. Send it back as early as possible.

Overseas voters have a number of options for returning voted ballots:

  • Local mail: Place your ballot in the mail with appropriate international postage.
  • U.S. Embassy Pouch/APO/FPO: You can drop off your ballot request or voted ballot at the  U.S. Embassy for return to the United States, or you can have someone drop it off for you. It must be addressed to your local election officials and have sufficient postage or be in a postage-paid envelope. You can print a postage-paid envelope from the FVAP website. Consult the instructions for your state for the mailing address for your ballot.
  • Fax, Email, or Internet: A number of states now allow the electronic return of voted ballots. Consult your state’s transmission options in the FVAP State Guide for electronic transmission options for your state.
  • Express Courier Service: If time is short or local mail is unreliable, you can use professional courier services such as TNT, FedEx, DHL, or UPS. Note: Express courier services do not deliver mail to PO boxes.

If you followed all the right steps but still haven’t received your ballot 30 days before the election, you should complete and submit a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Print an FWAB or fill it out online at Write in the candidates of your choice, and send it to your local election official. If your regular absentee ballot arrives later, fill it out and send it back too. Your FWAB will be counted only if your regular ballot doesn’t reach your local election officials by your state’s deadline. Following this procedure will not invalidate your vote or result in two votes being cast.

Voting for candidates for federal offices does not affect your federal or state tax liability. Voting for candidates for state or local offices could affect your state tax liability. Consult legal counsel if you have questions.