Sending Ballots

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), as amended by the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, requires absentee ballots be sent to UOCAVA voters at least 45 days before a federal election. For purposes of meeting this federal requirement, an overseas citizen is any U.S. Citizen who is residing in a country or U.S. Territory besides American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. One of the biggest factors in the military and overseas voting process is the timely delivery of election materials to the correct address. Election officials and voters should know of the latest USPS guidelines and delivery windows to ensure that blank ballots are delivered to the voter and that completed ballots are delivered to their election official on time. FVAP encourages election officials to review the USPS State and Local Election Mail - User's Guide and the USPS Election Officials' Mailing Resource Site for current information on election mailing.

To help election officials manage this deadline, we provide Mailing Guidelines directly below. You can also find on this page additional resources and specific guidelines for creating mailpieces, preparing election materials to be mailed, expedited mail options and more.

Mailing Guidelines

Mailing to Military Voters

Election materials to Service members with APO and FPO addresses require extra mailing time and special tags. As an election official, it is important that you review USPS' Guidelines for APO and FPO Mailing and Official Election Mail Procedures. The Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA) has also provided Overseas Ballot Mailing Deadlines.

When addressing your military or diplomatic shipment, make sure to include the unit and box numbers for APO and FPO addresses. To prevent mail from entering foreign mail markets, do not include city or country names.


PFC John Doe
PSC 3 Box 4120
APO AE 09021

Mailing to Overseas Citizens

As with military voters, election materials to U.S. citizens living abroad require extra mailing time. For information on proper addressing to overseas citizens, please review USPS guidance.

Tips for Mailing to Overseas Citizens:

  • No more than five (5) lines
  • Last line should only show country name, written in full
  • All capital letters





2020 Address Maintenance for Local Election Officials

In preparation for the November 2020 General Election, it is not too late to review your address file for voters covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).  Taking these steps will often improve the efficiency and speed of ballot processing so materials do not require personal handling to overcome address exceptions. 

In partnership with the United States Postal Service and the Military Postal Service Agency, the Federal Voting Assistance Program recommends the following address maintenance efforts which can be found in this UOCAVA Address Maintenance for Local Election Officials document.

Military Postal Automated Redirection System (MILPARS)

The Military Postal Service Agency (MPS) has implemented a system that automates the redirection of first class military mail. This brings the MPSA system in line with the USPS system. Rather than making it all the way to an overseas installation before being redirected, mail is now redirected before leaving the United States. For this process to work, the mailing must be a "flat," or large envelope, no larger than 12" x 15" x 0.75," and the voter must have updated their address in the National Change of Address (NCOA) system. In addition to their out-processing at the military post office, Service members will now be asked to go online at and complete an internet or post card change of address every time they change their mailing address. For additional information, please contact your USPS Election Mail Coordinator.

If your mailing envelopes are larger than 12" x 15" x 0.75", then you will not see the benefits of MILPARs; however, you may still reduce your number of undeliverables by running your list of registered UOCAVA voters against the NCOA. We encourage all election officials to make this a part of your regular list maintenance program.

Additional Resources

DISCLAIMER: The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) provides the DoD Fax Service to assist you with transmitting your election materials. FVAP does not guarantee the acceptance or processing of your materials by your election official. As a user of this service, we encourage you to contact your election official directly to verify whether your information was received.