Today, voting from overseas is easier than ever before, but it’s still a 3-step process:
Step 1. Register & Request Your Ballot
A single form (Federal Postcard Application, or FPCA) performs both tasks at once: registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) provides an easy Online Assistant to complete and print the required form. Most states will accept your form by fax or email, but some still require you to mail it in. If you use the Online Assistant, you’ll receive state-specific instructions along with your completed forms for printing. Start Now.
TIP: You do need to submit a new form every election year. Don’t forget to sign it before you send it off!
Step 2. Receive Your Ballot
At least 45 days before the November general election, your state will send out your ballot. All states now offer an electronic option (fax or e-mail) to receive your ballot.
TIP: If you haven’t received your ballot by October 4 (one month before Election Day), we recommend you download and use an emergency back-up called the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Follow this link, choose your voting state and then select the “Get My Ballot” option.
Step 3. Vote & Return
The ballot you receive should include clear instructions from your local election official. Some states now allow you to return your ballot electronically (fax or email). If you choose this option, you still may be required to send the hard copy by post, too. Follow all the ballot instructions very carefully.
TIP: Most states now offer online ballot tracking to verify the status of your vote. See the list of state-specific links below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are our top 5 questions from overseas US voters. Additional FAQs are provided by the FVAP here.
1. Can I vote absentee?
As a US citizen living outside the United States who is 18 years or older, you may vote absentee in any election for Federal office (US House of Representatives, US Senate, President). You can register when you are 17, if you will be 18 by Election Day. Depending on your overseas status (temporary with the intent to return OR indefinite with no specific intent to return), you may also be allowed to vote in State/Local elections.
See question #2 if you are a US citizen, but have never resided in the United States. See question #3 about potential tax implications of voting in State/Local elections.
2. What is my legal voting state/address?
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. You do NOT need to maintain property or other ties to this state.
Your legal voting address is the last address where you resided prior to departure from the United States. You will need to know the full mailing address of your last residence (including rural route and number, where applicable).
Some states allow children of US citizens residing overseas — who are US citizens but have never resided in the US — to use a parent’s (or legal guardian’s) legal voting address as their own. You can find a state-by-state breakdown from the FVAP here.
3. Does voter registration affect my tax status?
Voting for candidates for Federal offices does not affect your Federal or state tax liability. Federal offices are: US House of Representatives, US Senate and President. You can vote in these important races without tax implications.
Voting for candidates for state or local offices could affect your state income tax liability depending on the laws of your state. If you are concerned how voting may affect your state tax status, consult legal counsel, a US tax advisor or your state tax authorities.
4. Do I really need to request a ballot every year?
Yes. Do not rely on the fact that you have received absentee ballots in the past. The latest Federal law requires overseas absentee voters to request ballots every election year. It’s true that some local election officials will continue sending ballots in subsequent years. But they could stop this at any time. Better safe than sorry. Send in a new ballot request every year (or every time you move).
5. What if my ballot doesn’t arrive?
All states are legally required to mail out absentee ballots 45 days prior to a Federal election. If you haven’t received your ballot by October 4 (one month before Election Day), we recommend you download and use a back-up called the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Follow this link, choose your voting state and then select the “Get My Ballot” option.
Most states now provide the possibility to check the status of your voter registration and absentee ballot request. Follow the link below for your legal voting state: