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Overseas voters

How to register to vote if you are a British citizen living abroad.

Can British citizens living abroad vote?

British citizens living abroad can vote in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections but cannot vote in local elections or elections to devolved bodies such as the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Greater London Authority.

British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years are not eligible to register to vote in UK elections.

What methods of voting are available?

If you are registered to vote as an overseas elector, you cannot vote in local elections or elections to devolved bodies (such as the Scottish Parliament,  National Assembly for Wales or Greater London Authority). Overseas voters can opt to vote by post or proxy at other elections.

Postal votes are only sent out about a week before election day, so you will need to consider whether this gives you enough time to complete and return your form in time. It may be better to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.

Download an  overseas proxy voter form [110kb] or contact the Electoral Services Office for more information.

What can I do if I don't know any British citizens here to sign my witness statement?

As long as the form is signed by a British citizen living abroad, they do not need to be resident in the same country as you. If this is not an option, the British consulate or Embassy staff may assist you and sign the form.

Why can I not vote if I have been away for more than 15 years?

The length of time that a UK citizen can vote once they have moved abroad is limited by law to 15 years. Until 1985 no UK citizen living overseas could vote (other than Members of the Armed Forces or Crown Servants). Since 1985 the time limit has been 5 years, 20 years and now it is 15 years.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 06 Apr 2010 at 09:51