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Did you get a jury duty summons while outside of the United States? The first time I was ever called in for jury duty was after I had moved abroad to France. Here’s what to do when you’ve been summoned for jury duty as an American living or traveling abroad. 

two rows of fold up chairs for jury duty
Photo by Swati Kedia on Unsplash

What is jury duty?

Jury duty in the United States is when American citizens are called in to potentially serve as jurors in a legal proceeding. A civic duty and an essential service, jury duty supports the fundamental right of Americans to be tried before an impartial jury of one’s peers.

How are people selected for the jury pool?

A jury selection pool is created primarily by pulling information from voter registration lists. If you vote from abroad as an American, your last US address is on file in voter records even if you live out of the country. Other sources, such as driving records, may also be used.

Names are randomly drawn from within each judicial district in order to ensure that there is a fair representation of the community. If you have moved abroad and no longer live in that judicial district, you are not eligible to serve as a juror. In this case, you can be exempt from jury duty. If you are traveling abroad temporarily, you can ask to postpone your service and change the date. Each state has their own set of rules regarding qualifications and how to request exemptions and postponements.

How can you get excused from jury duty as an American abroad?

If your primary residence is in another country, you can be excused from jury duty. In the case of traveling abroad and/or going on vacation outside of the country, it’s more likely you will only be able to postpone your service. Either way, the first thing you’ll want to do is check your state website for specific procedures. The website will probably be included on the summons letter that was sent to you. You can also do a Google search for “your state & jury duty.”

➡️ Tip! Sometimes, state government websites are inaccessible from abroad. I use a VPN in these cases.

In Connecticut, the procedure is very simple. All I had to do was go to the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website and click on the link to answer my summons. From there, I selected that “I am no longer a Connecticut resident,” and I filled in the online form with my current address in Paris, France. After submitting the form, the confirmation landing page indicated that I would receive a response via email within seven business days.

I received an email the following business day letting me know that I was excused from serving on this summons. Additionally, a disqualification notice would be mailed.

Depending on your state, you may need to send in supporting documents to justify your disqualification or deferral. Although it was not necessary for Connecticut, I was prepared to send in a proof of address for my residence in France.

Be sure to respond to your notice in a timely manner. Not reporting for this service and ignoring the summons can result in legal repercussions.

How to Get Out of Jury Duty as an American Abroad
How to Get Out of Jury Duty as an American Abroad

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