Ask the Consul – January 2024

The U.S. Primary and General Presidential Elections are on the horizon!  As a U.S. citizen, you can vote even if you live and work outside of the United States.  In this edition of our Ask-the-Consul, we will answer some questions about how to vote while abroad.

Q:  I am a U.S. citizen who has been out of the United States for more than one year.  Can I vote in the upcoming Presidential elections?
Yes!  Voting is one of the fundamental rights as a U.S. citizen, and you can choose to exercise that right — from anywhere in the world.

If you are a U.S. citizen over age 18 and you are currently living away from your U.S. voting residence, you can vote by submitting an “absentee ballot” from abroad by registering at

Q:  What is my U.S. voting residence address?
Your U.S. voting residence address is used to determine where you are eligible to vote.  For overseas citizens, it is usually the last place you lived in the United States before moving overseas. You do not need to have any current ties with this address.

Q:  Can a U.S. citizen who has never lived in the United States register to vote and request an absentee ballot?
Many states allow U.S. citizens who have never resided in the U.S. to use a parent’s voting residence as their own.  A list of these states is available online at

Q:  Is the voting absentee process complicated?  What do I need to do to vote from abroad?
Voting while overseas is easy once you follow the steps below in a timely manner:

  1. Register and request your ballot in one easy step by filling out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at and send it to your election office.
  1. Fill out and send in your ballot when it arrives. That’s it!

Q:  When should I request an absentee ballot?
IMPORTANT:  You should send in a new FPCA every January and each time you move.  We recommend that you send in an FPCA at least 90 days before the election in which you want to vote.

Check your voter registration deadline for the next election based on your state.

Q:  When will I get my ballot?
Election offices are required to send absentee ballots at least 45 days before a federal election.  If you requested your ballot by email, then the ballot should arrive right away.  Mailed ballots will take longer to arrive depending on the postal system in the country where you are located.

Q:  What if I don’t receive the ballot in time after registering?
There is an option to use a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).  The FWAB is an emergency backup ballot for U.S. citizens who did not receive an absentee ballot from their state in time to participate in the election.  Visit to download the fillable FWAB.

Q:  Can I vote at the U.S. Embassy?
No.  Elections are run at the state level so you must communicate directly with your state to register, request a ballot, and vote.  However, our Consular staff at the Embassy can help you to fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) so that you get your ballot in time, and we can also help you to mail your voted ballots postage-free through the diplomatic mail.

You can drop off your completed ballots for mailing on Wednesdays and Fridays between 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.  

Have more questions?
Our Voting Assistance Officer at Embassy Georgetown is committed to helping you navigate the process.  Contact us via email at if you have additional questions.

We also encourage you to review the information at and for detailed guidance on voting while overseas.

Want to get absentee voting alerts straight to your phone or inbox?  Register at:


“Ask the Consul” is a monthly column from the U.S. Embassy answering questions about U.S. immigration law and other Consular topics.  Detailed information about visas can be viewed at, and  Information about American Citizen Services can be found at

Applicants are strongly encouraged to prepare their own documents and avoid third-party advice.  Consular processes change frequently, and non-U.S. government advisors often provide inadequate or inaccurate information.  Please contact our Visa Information Service Center using the contact information at if you have general visa questions.