U.S. Expatriate Matters
Apostilles and Legalization of Documents
An apostille is the equivalent of an international notarial seal. Documents which bear an apostille are legally valid for use in all countries party to the Hague Convention on the Legalization of Documents. This includes both the United States and Ukraine.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv cannot apostille or authenticate documents issued in the United States. Such documents are apostilled by the Office of the Secretary of State (or the equivalent office) in the State which issued the original document. Contact information for the 50 Secretaries of State is available on the National Association of Secretaries of State website. Documents issued by the U.S. Government are apostilled by the Department of State's Authentications Office.
Documents issued in Ukraine are apostilled by the Ministry of Justice, located at Artem 73 in Kyiv at these phone numbers: (044) 486-4216 (civil registry documents, i.e., death, birth, marriage, divorce certificates, etc.) in Room 155; and (044) 486-4988 (notarized documents) in Room 118. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 am until 12:00 noon. A regular apostille takes one day. However, in certain cases the process may take up to 20 business days if the Ministry does not have a copy of the seal and/or signature on file.
U.S. civil records (i.e., records of birth, death, marriage, etc.) are obtained from the State or territory in which they were issued. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control website for information on where to obtain such documents.
If you are in Ukraine, you may contact the local civil registration office (RAGS) for copies of civil records. If you are in the United States, please contact the Embassy of Ukraine for information about obtaining Ukrainian civil records.
Criminal Records Checks and Fingerprinting
U.S. citizens may be asked to present a criminal records check in connection with a visa application to live or work in Ukraine. Such certifications must come from local police officials or the Federal Bureau of Investigations and almost always require submission of fingerprints. However, some Ukrainian authorities will accept an Affidavit of No Criminal Liability in lieu of a criminal records check. U.S. citizens may execute the Affidavit of No Criminal Liability at the American Citizen Services Unit as part of its notary services.
The U.S. Embassy does not provide fingerprinting services except in very limited circumstances most often involving prospective U.S. adoptive parents. Please see the Department of State's webpage on Criminal Records Checks for more information on obtaining FBI and local criminal records checks in the United States.
U.S. Federal Taxes
The overseas income of U.S. citizens is generally subject to U.S. income tax. The American Citizen Services Unit has some IRS forms and publications for your use. We cannot, however, answer tax questions or offer tax advice. The IRS website offers comprehensive information on tax matters. In particular, please see the Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.
The IRS also has created a comprehensive tax page which is directed to U.S. citizens who reside abroad. This page contains basic tax information that U.S. citizens overseas need to know and includes links to more detailed topics, such as the foreign earned income exclusion, foreign tax credits, reporting foreign bank accounts, Fulbright grants, and other topics. The intent of this page is to provide answers to most of your tax questions in one place. The site also provides information on how to contact the IRS for more assistance.
U.S. citizens overseas can vote in all Federal elections (i.e., President/Vice President, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Representatives). Depending on the laws of your state of residence, you may also be able to vote in state and local elections.
U.S. citizens cannot vote at an Embassy overseas. However, the Embassy can help you get information about your state's voting procedures and in requesting an absentee ballot. We can also mail your voted ballot if you give us a properly addressed and stamped (with U.S. domestic postage) envelope. Unfortunately, we cannot sell stamps, weigh items, provide receipts, or mail anything else.
In November 2010, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act made changes to some overseas voting procedures. The changes include:
- Uniformed Service members and dependents should complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) each year. Civilians overseas may need to complete an FPCA for every election; check http://www.fvap.gov for specifics.
- States are required to have electronic alternatives for sending FPCAs and blank ballots.
- States are required to start sending ballots out to voters at least 45 days before an election.
- States will no longer require voting materials to be notarized. Some States still require witness.
- For elections post November 2010, the FWAB will have extended use to include primary, special and run-off elections for Federal offices.
More information on overseas voting, along with forms and state-by-state procedures, is available from the Federal Voting Assistance Program.