Every year, Americans living overseas find themselves asking similar questions:
- Can I vote in US elections abroad?
- If so, how?
- Is voting at a US embassy while living abroad possible?
Here are the answers to those questions and more.
Can You Vote While Living Overseas?
The short answer is yes, you certainly can. Under US law, all qualified American citizens living abroad may register and vote by absentee ballot in their last state of residence. You can vote regardless of:
- Whether you have a residence in the US
- How long it’s been since you voted in a US election (or if you’ve ever voted at all)
- How long you’ve lived outside of the US
- Whether or not you plan to return
Even if you were born outside of the US and lived abroad your whole life, you may still be eligible to vote in the state an American parent resided in or currently resides in.
This applies only to federal elections such as for presidents, senators, and representatives. However, some states will also let you vote in local or state races. Just be aware that while voting for federal offices doesn’t impact your tax liability, voting in state or local elections could. The state might claim that your vote means you have legal residency there, and you could end up owing them income taxes.
Can You Vote at a US Embassy While Living Abroad?
Unfortunately, the short answer to this question is no. Same-day, in-person voting at a US embassy just isn’t available while living abroad. Embassies and consulates are not polling places. They can’t receive mail or blank ballots on behalf of voters, either.
But don’t give up just yet! Embassies and consulates can still be helpful when voting overseas—essential, even. They can provide American citizens with quite a few tools for voting, such as:
- Voter registration forms
- Absentee ballot request forms
- Information about absentee voting
You can also mail your voter registration, absentee ballot request forms, or completed ballots right from your local embassy or consulate.
Plus, they can always give you helpful tips and advice, such as local mailing options, estimated mail transit times, or how to fill out the necessary forms for overseas voting. They can even notarize or witness voting materials (if required by the state you’re registered to vote in) free of charge.
How Do You Find the Nearest US Embassy?
Suppose you’re interested in voting at a US embassy abroad but don’t know where the nearest one is. Good news! The US State Department makes it easy to locate one right here. Just type in your country of residence or select it from the list, and you’ll see a list of all US embassies in that area.
No Matter Where You Live, Voting Is a Privilege
While voting at a US embassy abroad as if it were a polling place isn’t allowed, voting while living overseas is still very much possible. You can even use your local US embassy to make it all the easier. So take the opportunity and let your voice be heard!
If you have any more questions, we’re more than happy to help. At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we’re dedicated to helping you live your best life abroad. Contact us today, and we’ll dive right into assisting you on your expat journey.