The one-stop shop for all voting-related issues is the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (FVAP). It has a wealth of information about absentee voting, including the downloadable absentee ballot applications, state-specific instructions for completing the form, links to state and local voting officials, and a downloadable emergency ballot.
Some frequently asked voting questions from Americans residing overseas:
Can I vote absentee?
You can vote absentee in any election for Federal office if you are a U.S. citizen 18 years or older, and are residing outside of the United States.
If I do not maintain a legal residence in the U.S., what is my "legal state of residence"?
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 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.
When completing section 7 of the Voter Registration form (Pdf – 328Kb) and Absentee Ballot (Pdf – 356Kb) request form, be sure to enter the entire mailing address of your last residence to determine your proper voting jurisdiction.
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.
How do I register to vote, or apply for an absentee ballot?
You may register to vote and request an absentee ballot on the FVAP website. Both tasks can be accomplished by completing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) (Pdf – 328 Kb). Your FPCA must be completed, printed, signed, dated and mailed to the listed election official in your U.S. state of residence.
What if I have not received by absentee ballot one month before the election?
- Contact your local election official to determine the status of your ballot. Contact information is available at FVAP website.
- When you receive your regular absentee ballot, complete it and return it regardless of when you receive it. Your local election official will ensure that only one of the ballots is counted. All FWABs must be completed, printed, signed, dated, and submitted to your local election official. Check out your state’s instructions to determine your state specific instructions, witness requirements for voted ballots, deadlines, and mailing addresses.
- If you have requested an absentee ballot from your State but have not received it, you can also vote by using the back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) (Pdf – 356Kb). You may submit the FWAB at any time after you submit your Federal Post Card Application.
May I mail my Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) or absentee ballot back to the United States through the U.S. Embassy?
Returning your FPCA or ballot through the U.S. Embassy: If you are currently in Costa Rica, you can return your completed FPCA or signed ballot to the United States via the U.S. Embassy, San Jose. There is a secure box outside the main entrance where you may drop off your election-related materials in person. Please ensure the envelope is correctly addressed and has sufficient U.S. postage. You can download and print a U.S. postage-paid envelope from https://www.fvap.gov/eo/overview/materials/forms
In order to mail election-related materials to the United States, you will need two envelopes. Address the first envelope to the U.S. Embassy, San Jose at the mailing address below. Address the second envelope to your local state election office and enclose your FPCA or ballot inside. The second envelope needs to be postage-paid or have sufficient U.S. postage to be delivered to your local election office from the U.S. sorting facility where it will be mailed. Seal the second envelope, place it inside the first envelope, and mail the package to the U.S. Embassy. It can take up to four weeks for election-related materials to reach their final destination in the United States.
If you would like to mail your FPCA or ballot to the U.S. Embassy in San Jose to be forwarded to the U.S., we recommend using the courier service that Correos de Costa Rica offers, more commonly known as EMS. The address to send the ballot to is below:
US Embassy San Jose Costa Rica
Attention: ACS Unit
Vía 104, Calle 98
In front of Plaza del Oeste
San Jose, Costa Rica.