Home How to vote in the 2019 European Parliament election
Last update on November 01, 2019
Written by Adam Nowek

The 2019 European Parliament elections take place between 23 and 26 May 2019. Hundreds of millions of EU citizens have the opportunity to cast their vote, whether they live abroad or at home.

The 2019 European Parliament election will take place between 23 and 26 May 2019, and you can vote even if you don’t live in your home country. How do you make your voice heard on matters important to you?

Update: What happened in the 2019 European Parliament election? Expatica has the election results.

With a collective population of over 500 million, the EU has around 350 million people who are eligible to vote during the European Parliament elections. This makes it one of the biggest electorates in the world and allows everyone to influence the important decisions that the EU make both now and in the future. This guide to the 2019 European elections explains what the hot topics are, when and where to participate, and everything you need to know to vote in your country of residence – whether you are casting a ballot for your host country or your home country’s representatives.

The 2019 European Parliament elections in brief

With a total of 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) representing people from 28 member states, the EU faces many different challenges across key topics such as migration, terrorism and climate change, and the votes will be affected by issues ranging from the economy – public finances and youth unemployment, for example – to data privacy. In the forthcoming European Parliament election in May 2019, each eligible voter across Europe gets the chance to choose the 751 members that will represent them in the European Parliament until 2024.

Brussels, Belgium. 20th Nov. 2018. Plenary room of the European Parliament during the 70th anniversary of the Universal declaration of human right’s conference. Source: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com

Five years ago, the average voting turnout in the EU was only 42.6%, though the European Union is actively promoting the upcoming vote. At the same time, the United Kingdom’s messy divorce from the EU and its looming financial consequences are boosting approval ratings of the EU itself, suggesting that EU citizens are more engaged than ever before with the politics of the continent.

When and where to vote in the 2019 European elections

If you are a citizen of an EU country, it is your right to vote (and stand as a candidate!) in the European Parliament elections, held from 23–26 May 2019.

Members of European Parliament voting in a parliamentary committee in EU Parliament Brussels, Belgium on Feb. 27, 2019. Source: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
Members of European Parliament voting in a parliamentary committee in EU Parliament Brussels, Belgium on Feb. 27, 2019. Source: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com

While the procedure to register to vote varies by country, here are some key points that apply across the whole of the European Union:

  1. If you are an EU citizen and you live in your home country, you can vote for candidates (or stand for election) only in your home country.
  2. If you are an EU citizen and you live in a country other than your home country, you can vote either in your home country or in your host country; you cannot vote in both. You will need to register with the national authorities of your host country (if that is your main residence).
  3. If you are Bulgarian, Cypriot, Danish, Greek or Italian and you live outside the European Union (including the UK), then you cannot vote from outside your home country.
  4. If you live in your country of origin, the registration procedure to vote in the European elections is identical to the procedure for local, regional and general elections. To be able to vote, you just need to register with your local authorities.
  5. Voting is compulsory in Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, and Luxembourg.

You can find out the requirements for each specific EU country here.

How to vote in the 2019 European Parliament election

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in Belgium

Belgium EU representatives: 21 MEPs

Date: 26 May 2019

Voting System: Belgium uses three voting lists separated by language communities (Dutch-speaking, French-speaking, and German-speaking). 156 municipalities in the Flemish Region, all municipalities in the Brussels-Capital Region, and the municipalities of the German-speaking Community, will vote electronically with a paper proof, while all municipalities in the Walloon Region and 152 municipalities in the Flemish Region will use paper ballots. Belgian citizens are automatically registered via their identity card and are required to vote. Belgians living abroad (including in non-EU countries) may vote by getting a mail-in ballot from their nearest Belgian embassy. Once registered at a consular post, the person is subject to compulsory voting. Non-Belgian EU citizens must register to vote with their local commune, and must not be registered to vote in another EU country.

Deadline: The application for registration on the electoral roll in your municipality must be done by 28 February 2019.

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in France

France EU representatives: 79 MEPs

Date: 26 May 2019

Voting System: French citizens living in France can apply online to register to vote. Non-French citizens can also apply through their municipality to declare their intention to vote in France.

Deadline: As a French citizen, you must be registered on the electoral roll before 31 March 2019. If you are a European citizen living in France, you must also be registered on the complementary electoral roll in the municipality you live in.

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in Germany

Germany EU representatives: 96 MEPs

Date: 26 May 2019

Voting System: If German expatriates wish to vote in European elections, they must submit an application with their municipal government for entry into the voters’ register before each election.

Deadline: 21 days before election (5 May 2019).

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in Italy

Italy EU representatives: 73 MEPs

Date: 26 May 2019

Voting System: Italian citizens that are eligible to vote are automatically added to the electoral roll, but non-Italian EU citizens are not. Prior to the elections you will get a notification from your local municipality. Non-Italian EU citizens must register with their municipality in advance. For further information (in Italian), please refer to the Italian Ministry of the Interior.

Deadline: Non-Italian citizens must register no less than 90 days prior to the election date.

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in Luxembourg

Luxembourg EU representatives: 6 MEPs

Date: 26 May 2019

Voting System: To be able to vote in European elections, EU citizens need to register on the electoral roll in their municipality. You can register online. A voter wishing to vote by mail during the European Elections must inform the commune and request a poll card. The request for the poll card can be made electronically or by post with a letter or with a pre-printed form from the voter’s commune of residence. After registering with the municipality, non-Luxembourgish citizens are legally obliged to vote and could face a fine (between €251–2,000) or even be sent to prison (8–15 days).

Deadline: The deadline to register is 87 days before the election.

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in the Netherlands

The Netherlands EU representatives: 26 MEPs

Date: 23 May 2019

Voting System: Voters will receive an invitation in the mail to cast their vote no later than fourteen days prior to election day. Dutch voters cast their ballots either in person or by proxy; electors must bring their polling card and identification.

Deadline: Non-Dutch citizens must apply before 26 February 2019 by submitting a Y32 form, which is available from your municipal government.

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in Portugal

Portugal EU representatives: 21 MEPs

Date: 26 May 2019

Voting System: Non-Portuguese EU citizens can register with the registry commission (comissões recenseadoras) or the Aliens and Borders Department (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF), which registers them in the municipality in which they live.

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in Spain

Spain EU representatives: 59 MEPs

Date: 26 May 2019

Voting System: The European parliament election will be held simultaneously with regional elections in thirteen autonomous communities and local elections  throughout Spain. EU citizens need to register with their municipality and declare their intent to vote in Spain so that they can be put on the electoral roll of foreigners residing in Spain for European elections. It is possible to register online, and casting a ballot by mail is also possible.

Deadline: Registration closes on the first day of the second month prior to election date.

How to vote in the 2019 European elections in the United Kingdom

United Kingdom EU representatives: 73 MEPs

Date: 23 May 2019

Voting System: Despite a looming Brexit, UK citizens are automatically registered to vote if they have voted at any time during the last 15 years. Anyone not registered to vote already (i.e., other EU citizens living in the UK) can register online.

Deadline: 7 May 2019

How to vote locally in other EU countries

Don’t live in one of the countries listed above? Consult the European Union’s guide for EU citizens casting their ballot outside of their home country.

How to vote for your home country representative in the 2019 European Parliament election

As an EU citizen living in another EU country, you choose which country that you cast your ballot in the European Parliament election: the country that you reside in or the country that you have citizenship from.

Dutch people vote in polling stations for the general elections in the Hague, Netherlands on March 15, 2017. Source: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
Dutch people vote in polling stations for the general elections in the Hague, Netherlands on March 15, 2017. Source: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com

The process for doing so varies depending on your nationality:

  • Austria: Austrian citizens can vote from abroad by mail after registering with your local Austrian embassy.
  • Belgium: Belgian citizens can vote from abroad by mail, by proxy, or via their local Belgian embassy. Belgians abroad must register to do this at least three months prior to the election date.
  • Bulgaria: Bulgarian citizens residing in another EU country can vote in-person at their embassy as long as they have resided in an EU country for at least three months prior to election day. Registration in advance is not necessary.
  • Croatia: Croatian citizens abroad can only vote at their local Croatian embassy. Absentee ballots must be registered for in advance.
  • Cyprus: Cypriot citizens can vote from abroad at their nearest embassy, consulate, or government-approved polling place. Register before 2 April 2019.
  • Czechia: Czech citizens cannot vote from outside of their home country; Czech citizens abroad can only vote in the 2019 European Parliament election if they register to vote in the EU country that they live in.
  • Denmark: Danish citizens vote by mail or in-person at their nearest Danish embassy, though the right to vote is limited to those intending to return to Denmark within two years. Register at least seven days before the election date.

Voting at home: Estonia to Luxembourg

  • Estonia: Estonian citizens can vote online, in-person at an embassy or consulate, or by mail. Register no later than 30 days prior to the election date.
  • Finland: Finnish citizens can vote either by mail or at their local Finnish embassy; advance voting from abroad starts on 15 May and ends on 18 May.
  • France: French citizens can vote from abroad at their embassy. Register before 31 March 2019.
  • Germany: German citizens can vote from abroad by mail. Registration must be done prior to each election.
  • Greece: Greek citizens abroad can vote by mail or in-person at a Greek embassy after registering. Registration can be done with a statement at their local Greek embassy or consulate.
  • Hungary: Hungarian citizens can vote by mail or, if they live in a country neighboring Hungary, at their local Hungarian embassy. Register before the end of April 2019.
  • Ireland: Irish citizens cannot vote from outside of their home country (unless they intend to permanently return to Ireland within the next 18 months).
  • Italy: After registering with AIRE, Italian citizens can cast their ballot at their local Italian embassy.
  • Latvia: Latvian citizens can vote from abroad by mail. Register at least 30 days prior to the election date.
  • Lithuania: Lithuanian citizens can vote from abroad by mail or in-person at their local Lithuanian embassy. Registration for this must be done in advance.
  • Luxembourg: Luxembourgish citizens can vote from abroad by mail. Register to vote by mail before 25 February 2019.

Vote at home: Malta to the United Kingdom

  • Malta: Maltese citizens cannot vote from outside of their home country; Maltese citizens abroad can only vote in the 2019 European Parliament election if they register to vote in the EU country that they live in.
  • The Netherlands: Dutch citizens can vote from abroad by mail. Register through the municipal government of The Hague prior to 26 February 2019.
  • Poland: Polish citizens can vote from abroad by mail or in-person at the nearest embassy or consulate. Register no later than three days prior to the election date.
  • Portugal: Portuguese citizens can vote from abroad by mail. Register at the nearest Portuguese embassy no later than 60 days before the election date.
  • Romania: Romanian citizens can vote in-person at their local embassy or a government-approved location. Registration is not necessary.
  • Slovakia: Slovak citizens cannot vote from outside of their home country; Slovak citizens abroad can only vote in the 2019 European Parliament election if they register to vote in the EU country that they live in.
  • Slovenia: Slovenian citizens abroad can vote by mail or in-person at their nearest embassy. Register at the nearest Slovenian embassy or consulate.
  • Spain: Spanish citizens abroad can vote by mail or in-person at their nearest embassy. A special application form will be provided for the purposes of registering from abroad.
  • Sweden: Swedish citizens abroad can vote by mail or in-person at their nearest Swedish embassy or consulate.
  • United Kingdom: UK citizens can vote from abroad either by mail or by proxy.