Overseas voters

On this page you can find the answers to frequently asked questions about registering as an overseas voter.

Can British citizens living abroad vote in UK elections?

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 London Assembly.

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

If you want to register to vote in England, Scotland or Wales, you can register online in the same way as all other voters in Great Britain. Register to vote online any time at gov.uk/register-to-vote.

To register to vote in Northern Ireland, visit the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland website to download the correct form.

For further information, you should contact your local electoral registration office. To find their contact details, enter your postcode in the 'Your local area' section of our homepage.

Why can I not register to vote if I have lived abroad for more than 15 years?

The length of time that a UK citizen can vote once they have moved abroad is currently 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 then the limit has been five years, 20 years and now it is 15 years.

The franchise is a matter for Government and Parliament. If you have any further questions, you should contact the Cabinet Office.

When does the 15-year overseas voter period begin?

The 15-year period begins from the last day that you were on the electoral register in the UK. If you are unsure of that date, you will need to contact the local authority of the address you were last registered at. To find their contact details, enter the relevant postcode in the 'Your local area' section of our homepage.

I was too young to register to vote before I left the UK – am I eligible to register to vote?

If you were too young to register when you left the UK, you can still register as an overseas voter. You can do this if your parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK, as long as you left the UK no more than 15 years ago.

The 15-year period will begin for you from the date you left the UK.

My parents are from the UK but I was born overseas – am I eligible to register to vote?

It does not matter where a British citizen was born. If you were a resident at an address in the UK at some point within the past 15 years and your parent or guardian was registered to vote at that address, you can register to vote as an overseas voter.

I am an employee of a British organisation overseas, how can I register to vote?

British citizens who are employees of British organisations overseas (other than HM Forces, the British Council or as a Crown Servant) can register to vote as an overseas voter. Please refer to ‘Can British citizens living abroad vote in UK elections?’ for more information.

What methods of voting in UK elections are available to overseas voters?

Overseas voters can apply to vote by post or proxy (someone voting on your behalf). Overseas voters on electoral registers in Northern Ireland must either appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf, or vote in person if you will be in the UK at the time of the poll, as you cannot vote by post.

Voting by post

You need to make sure you have time to apply to vote by post, receive and then return your ballot papers by polling day. If you don't think you can return them in time, you may want to consider voting by proxy.

To check when postal votes are being sent out contact the local authority of the address you are registered to. To find the contact details for your local electoral registration office, enter the relevant postcode in the 'Your local area' section of our homepage.

Find out more about voting by post

Voting by proxy

If you're abroad you can apply to vote by proxy. This means you can appoint someone to vote on your behalf. Both you and the person you appoint as your proxy must be registered to vote.

Find out more about voting by proxy

I’m living outside the UK – which address should I include on my postal vote application form?

You will need to include the address where you were last registered to vote in the UK. There is a section on the form for your correspondence address – you can include your overseas address in that section.