On the day of voting, you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be 18 (17 in primary elections in some states)
- Have registered to vote as required by your state of legal residency (click here for further information)
U.S. Citizens Residing Outside the U.S.
Citizens residing outside the U.S. may not arbitrarily choose which state to declare as their legal voting residence without meeting the state’s residency requirement. Your “legal state of residence” for voting purposes is the address where you last resided immediately prior to your departure from the U.S. This residence remains valid even though the citizen may no longer own property or have other ties to their last state residence and their intent to return to that state may be uncertain.
If You Haven’t Received Your Ballot
If you have not received a ballot from your state at least 30 days before the election, you can vote in the upcoming election using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). If you have registered and requested your ballot by your state’s deadline (or at least 30 days before the election, whichever is later), you may use the FWAB any time before the election. A FWAB is a back-up ballot that can be used if you requested your state ballot but did not receive it in time to vote.
The FWAB can be completed quickly by using the FWAB online assistant, filling out the Form or requesting a hard copy from the U.S. Embassy Bern by sending an email to: VoteBern@state.gov with your name, address, email address, and your legal state of residence. Please visit www.fvap.gov for more information.
State Specific Voting Guidelines
To check deadline dates and state specific guidelines, please click here.
Voting and Taxes
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. Consul legal counsel if you have questions.
If you have never resided in the U.S., click here to see if you are eligible to vote absentee.
Absentee Voting Process
Step 1: Register and Request Your Absentee Ballot
You must do this in your state of legal residence by completing a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) according to your state or territory’s specific instructions and submitting it to your local election office. This will also extend your eligibility to receive a ballot for all federal elections for at least one calendar year, and acts as both the registration and absentee ballot request form.
The FPCA can be completed quickly and easily by using the FPCA online assistant, filling out the Form (PDF 320 KB) or requesting a hard copy from the U.S. Embassy Bern by sending an email to: VoteBern@state.gov with your name, address, email address, and your legal state of residence.
Step 2: Send Your FPCA/Absentee Ballot to Your Local Election Office
To send your FPCA/Absentee Ballot to your local election office, choose one of these options:
- Send it through the diplomatic pouch at U.S. Embassy Bern. Place your sealed FPCA/Absentee Ballot into a second envelope and mail it to:
U.S. Embassy Bern
P.O. Box 3259
3001 Bern, Switzerland
- Use a foreign mail service. Use the correct postage and include USA in the address.
- Use a private courier service, if allowed by your state – click here for state guidelines.
By email or fax:
Step 3: Your Election Official Processes Your FPCA and Sends You and Absentee Ballot
They will determine if you meet the jurisdiction’s residency requirements and will decide which ballot to send you. You may also be contacted if there are any questions about your application.
Step 4: Vote and Return Your Absentee Ballot
Vote and return your state ballot as soon as you receive it. You can mail it using one of the three options mentioned in step 2. Please keep in mind, embassies and consulates are not polling places. The majority of states require voted ballots to reach local election officials by the close of polls. The three mailing options aforementioned do not guarantee your ballot will arrive by the state ballot receipt deadline.