San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

How U.S. Citizens Can Vote

After a pause of three years, we are pleased to reintroduce this periodic column to address frequently asked questions and provide consularrelated information from the U.S. Embassy in San José.

This installment of Ask the Embassy addresses the upcoming U.S. presidential election Nov. 4.

Q: How do I exercise my right to vote in the upcoming presidential election, even though I am living outside the United States?

A: Generally, all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who are residing outside the United States are eligible to vote absentee in any election for federal office. In order to vote, you must first register in your home state. To find out when the deadline is for your state and to register to vote, go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site at You can print out the voter registration form from the site, and then bring it to the embassy in a pre-addressed, U.S. postage-stamped envelope, and we will mail it for you. However, you must bring it to the embassy at least one week before your state’s registration deadline.

Your state will then mail you an absentee ballot, which you should fill out and return to the embassy at least one week before the election so your vote can be counted. If for some reason you do not receive your absentee ballot and are a registered voter, you can pick up a replacement absentee ballot at the U.S. Embassy in the western San José district of Pavas, at the intersection of Avenida Central and Calle 120. This will be a general ballot that can be used to vote in any state, but in order to use a replacement absentee ballot, you must be a registered voter or be a resident from a U.S. state that does not require registration.

If you have further questions about the voting process or other consular-related matters, send your specific inquiries to


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