Five things Americans should know about voting abroad

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Photo: FVAP
08:53 CEST+02:00
The November 8th US General Election is quickly approaching. Want to make your voice heard? Here are five things Americans should know about voting from abroad.

November 8th is just around the corner, and no matter where you are in the world, the US presidential election race has been impossible to ignore.

Even for those who haven’t lived in the country for years, there’s an unspoken sense that this election is different. That’s left many Americans feeling the urge (or perhaps it’s the need?) to have their voice heard on November 8th.

Tens of thousands of Americans voted from abroad in the 2012 election, and what we heard from them was surprising — they say the process is more straightforward than one would think.

Here’s what those voters say other Americans abroad need to know to vote in the 2016 elections, no matter where they are:

1. It’s only a two-step process

First, register to vote and request your ballot with one form.

It’s called the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). You can get it at Once there, select the state or territory where you last resided (i.e., where you lived in the U.S. most recently) or where your parents did (some states allow you to vote absentee even if you’ve never resided in the US).

You can use the online assistant to help you fill out the form, or print it and fill it out by hand. Then send your FPCA to your election office.

If you want to participate in the November 8 General Election, it’s best to fill out and send in your FPCA by August 1st, 2016. Your state’s deadline may be later, which you can check on

Second, when your absentee ballot arrives, fill it out and send it to your election office. Make sure you sign the enclosed affidavit or envelope as required by your state.

For the General Election, send your ballot back by October 15th, 2016. 

2. You can do it anywhere

It doesn't matter if you're an American living in France, Germany, Spain, or the UK. You can register and request your ballot to be sent anywhere in the world.

And you can do much of the work with the online assistant (except printing and signing!). Most states accept the FPCA via email or online, and many will send you your blank ballot online too.

Hard copies of the FPCA are also available at your nearest US consulate or embassy.

3. You can get help filling out your FPCA online

FVAP’s online assistant offers tips on how to fill out the FPCA as you’re completing it. It makes filling out the form that much faster.

When you’re done, you can download the populated form, so all you have to do is print, sign and send in. All the instructions on where and how to send in your form by mail, email or fax — whatever your state allows — will be included.

4. It’s OK if you don’t get your ballot in time

If you don’t get your ballot in time to vote before the deadline, that’s no problem. Get a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) from Fill it out and send it like your regular ballot. There’s an online assistant to help you do this too!

5. You can check the status of your ballot

Want to make sure your election office received your ballot? You can check the status at and see when your election office receives it.

Not exactly the complex process you thought it was, right? Be sure to fill out your FPCA by August 1st to participate. 


This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by the US Federal Voting Assistance Programme (FVAP).

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