I'm studying abroad for only one semester. Should I send in the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote or wait until I get back to the US?

Don’t wait to register to vote–do it now! As a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S., you need to make sure you get a ballot for every election in which you are entitled to vote. Sending in the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) will cover you for all elections in the calendar year: Primary, General and Special Elections that you may otherwise not be aware of.

The FPCA is only a one-page form and it provides protections available only to overseas voters–including the ability to receive your blank ballot electronically, your blank ballot must be sent to you at least 45 days before the election, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot if necessary and many states allow additional time to return your voted ballot and/or the ability to return your voted ballot electronically. (See also FAQ #7Why Should I Submit A Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) Rather Than My State’s In-State Absentee Ballot Request Form?”)

And plans can change! You may find yourself living outside the U.S. longer than you originally planned–travelling, enrolling in a new program or just hanging out in your new city. When you use the FPCA, you can request your blank ballot be sent to by Email/Online or Fax and you’ll receive your ballot wherever you are in the world.

Lastly, many states have early deadlines to register to vote–if you wait until you’re back in the U.S., you run the risk of missing the deadline and losing your chance to vote.