Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP)
Active duty uniformed-service (and qualifying spouse or dependents) and overseas citizens are permitted to receive the ballot via email upon request. For more information, view our Guidelines for Voters that Request E-mail Ballots (.pdf) or contact your local elections office.
If you are a legal Virginia resident but are not yet registered to vote, or need to change your voter registration, you may use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and apply for your absentee ballot at the same time. After you complete the FPCA, sign it and then you may either mail it to your local voter registration office, e-mail or fax it to your local voter registration office. You should complete this application (FPCA) before you complete any other forms or applications relating to voter registration and/or absentee voting. You may also register and request absentee ballots using the Virginia voter registration application and absentee ballot application linked on this page. However, using the FPCA is recommended for the convenience of a single form allowing electronic submission of registration by fax or email. Applicants with a Virginia DMV driver’s license or identification card may also be able to apply to register online through the Department of Elections website.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website provides a Virginia Voting Assistance Guide * explaining how to complete your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). This guide provides dates for federal elections only. By submitting a complete Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in Virginia, you will be sent ballots for all elections in which you are eligible to vote through the end of the next calendar year. Federal forms and envelopes are available on the Election Materials page on www.fvap.gov.
Please note that any registered Virginia voter may visit the Virginia Department of Elections (ELECT) voter registration website to review his or her voter registration status, the status of his or her absentee ballot application, information on their elected representatives, and contact information for local elections office at any time.
- An applicant not currently registered in Virginia but eligible under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) may submit his or her Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) by mail, e-mail or fax. Overseas citizens’ completed FPCAs must be received by the local election office before the close of business on the final day of registration for the election, generally 22 days before most elections. Non-military overseas voters who no longer have a Virginia place of abode, will receive ballots for federal offices only, unless overseas employment information is provided (a qualifying spouse or dependent would provide that employment information). Active duty uniformed-service voters and qualifying family members are eligible for late registration, but must comply with the deadline for requesting ballots, normally seven days before the election with limited exceptions for emergencies. See Va. Code 24.2-419, 24.2-420.1, 24.2-705 and 24.2-705.1.
NOTE: In Virginia, active-duty uniformed-service voters (including qualifying spouses and dependents) may register to vote by mail until Election Day, but are still subject to the absentee application deadline to request a ballot sent to them by mail, email or fax. A Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) for an uniformed-service voter eligible for late registration, must be received at least seven days before the election in order for an official ballot to be sent by mail, email or fax. The FWAB may be used as backup if time may be insufficient to receive and return an official ballot.
- Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) for applicants eligible under UOCAVA who are already registered in Virginia, or who are active-duty uniformed-service eligible for late registration, must be received by the local election office no later than 5:00 p.m. seven (7) days before the election (unless there is a qualifying emergency). FPCAs can be submitted by mail, e-mail or fax.
- In-person absentee voters have until the Saturday immediately before the election to vote an absentee ballot in-person at your local election office. Qualifying emergencies (e.g., hospitalization) allow applying to vote absentee through 5:00 p.m. the day before the election.
In the event that a qualified absentee voter does not receive a requested absentee ballot in a timely manner, the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) serves as an emergency backup ballot. The FWAB is available to download from Federal Voting Assistance Program website: www.fvap.gov. Below are step-by-step instructions for completing the FWAB.
Step 1: Mark the ballot portion of the FWAB in the presence of your witness
- The witness must be 18 years of age or older.
- Use the Virginia Department of Elections Citizen Portal to see what is on your ballot.
- Write down the title of the office or ballot initiative (unless provided) and then privately indicate your choice.
Step 2: Seal your ballot
- Fold the ballot into thirds.
- The ballot, and only the ballot, should be placed in a security envelope.
- Seal the envelope.
Step 3: Complete the Voter’s Declaration/Affirmation in the presence of your witness
- Virginia requires a full social security number in box 4.
- Be sure the place your Virginia address in box 7 and your current overseas address in box 8.
- Don’t forget to sign and date the affirmation at the bottom along with your witness.
Step 4: Prepare to return your FWAB
- Place the completed Voter’s Declaration/Affirmation and the sealed security envelope containing your ballot into a return mailing envelope.
- Seal the return mailing envelope and address it to the office of the general registrar for the locality in which you are registered to vote with "Attn: Absentee Voting Officer."
- Include your name and return address.
Step 5: Mail your FWAB
- Virginia does not allow return of any voted ballot electronically, by e-mail, or fax
- In most cases, your voted ballot must be received by the close of polls on the day of the election. It is recommended that you use an expedited shipping method if you are returning a ballot in close proximity to the election.