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Home News UK citizens abroad: Have you registered to vote?

UK citizens abroad: Have you registered to vote?

Published on 05/04/2016

If you’re a British citizen living abroad, as a non-UK resident you still may be able to vote for the upcoming local elections on 5 May 2016 and the referendum regarding Britain’s exit from the European Union on 23 June 2016. Find out how to register to vote.

British citizens moving abroad

You can register as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK, as long as:

  • you’re a British citizen
  • you were registered to vote in the UK within the previous 15 years (or, in some cases, if you were too young to have registered when you left the UK).


Register to vote: Get on the electoral register or change your address

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in elections and referendums. The electoral register (sometimes called the ‘electoral roll’) lists the names and addresses of everyone who’s registered to vote.

Register by 18 April to vote in the 5 May elections, or by 7 June to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June. Contact your local Electoral Registration Office if you’re not sure whether you’re already on the register.

Use this service to apply to register to vote or to:

  • update your name, address or other details on the electoral register.
  • change your voting preferences, eg. to vote in person or by post.
  • change whether you’re on the open register (details open to the public).

It usually takes about five minutes.

You may need the following, if you have them:

  • your National Insurance number
  • your passport if you’re a British citizen living abroad.


Before you start

You can also register by post.

The online service is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

Public servants posted overseas

There are separate registration services for public servants who are likely to be posted overseas:

You can still register as a non-service voter if you’re in the armed forces and have a permanent home address in the UK.

Northern Ireland

This service is for England, Wales and Scotland only.

You’ll need to register using a different form if you live in Northern Ireland.

What happens if you don’t register

You must register to vote if you’re asked to do so and you meet the conditions for registering, eg. you’re 16 or over and you’re British or a national of an EU or Commonwealth country.

If you’re asked to register and don’t do so, your local Electoral Registration Office could fine you GBP 80.

You won’t be fined if you have a valid reason for not registering, eg. a long stay in hospital or you have severe learning difficulties.

If you’re abroad

If you’re going to be abroad temporarily on election day, you can arrange to:

You must make the arrangements in advance.

Vote by proxy if the election is less than two weeks away and you haven’t made the arrangements yet. You may not get your ballot paper in time to vote by post.


Gov.uk / Expatica