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British Citizens Voting From Overseas

British Citizens Voting From Overseas

The 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 for registering 𝗶𝘀 𝟭𝟭:𝟱𝟵𝗣𝗠 𝗕𝗦𝗧 𝗼𝗻 𝗧𝘂𝗲𝘀𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝟭𝟴 𝗝𝘂𝗻𝗲.

If you are a British or eligible Irish citizen living abroad who has previously lived in the UK or been registered to vote in the UK, you can register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections

A number of changes to voting from overseas now apply: 

  1. You can register to vote if you previously lived in the UK but were not registered to vote. 
  2. You can register to vote in the UK no matter how long ago you left or were last registered to vote.
  3. Your overseas declaration is now valid for three years, lasting until 1 November in the third year after it takes effect (for example, if your declaration takes effect on 1 March 2024, it will expire on 1 November 2026).
  4. You can now register online (not available in Northern Ireland). 

If you are an overseas voter who registered to vote before 16 January 2024, you need to renew your registration when your declaration expires. If you applied for a proxy vote before 31 October 2023, this will expire on 31 January 2024 and you will need to reapply for a proxy vote

If you have a long-term postal vote you applied for before 31 October 2023, this will expire 12 months after the date of your most recent declaration. The electoral services team at your local council will contact you before your postal vote expires.

Find out more about the changes to voting if you live overseas

Registering to Vote

If you live abroad, you can register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections if you are both:

  1. A British citizen. This includes eligible Irish citizens (someone who was born in Northern Ireland, who is an Irish citizen and also qualifies as a British citizen) and citizens of Crown Dependencies
  2. And, have previously been registered to vote in the UK or have lived in the UK.

If you’re not sure if you’re already registered to vote, contact the relevant body to find out. If your last UK address was in: 

  1. England and Wales, enter the postcode of your last UK address into this search to find the contact details for your local council.
  2. Scotland, enter the postcode of your last UK address in this search to find the contact details for your electoral registration office. 
  3. Northern Ireland, contact The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland.

How to Complete an Application

If your last UK address was in England, Scotland or Wales

To register to vote at a UK Parliament election, you need to complete an application. You can: 

  1. Apply online through GOV.uk
  2. Apply by downloading, printing and completing an application form

You may also be able to apply by telephone. If your last UK address was in:  

  1. England or Wales, contact your local council to find out if you can apply by telephone. You can enter the postcode of your last UK address into this search to find their contact details.
  2. Scotland, contact your electoral registration office to find out if you can apply by telephone. You can enter the postcode of your last UK address into this search to find their contact details.

When applying, you need to provide the last UK address you lived at or were registered to vote at. You also need to provide your National Insurance number and date of birth. These are used to verify your identity.

You can apply to vote by proxy or by post. You can also vote in person if you will be in the UK on polling day. You cannot vote in person at a British embassy, high commission or consulate.

To apply to vote by proxy or post, you need to complete a separate application alongside applying to vote as an overseas voter.

Apply to vote by proxy

Apply to vote by post

Voting by proxy may be a better option if post will take a long time to reach you.

If you were too young to have registered to vote in the UK before you left, you will also need to include your parent’s or guardian’s details and a copy of your birth certificate. 

If your last UK address was in Northern Ireland

To register to vote at a UK Parliament election, you need to download, print and complete a registration form.  

On the application form, you can choose to vote by proxy or in person if you are likely to be in Northern Ireland on polling day.

When applying, you need to provide the last UK address you lived at or were registered to vote at. You also need to provide your National Insurance number and date of birth. These are used to verify your identity.

As part of your application, you need to submit details to prove you are a British or eligible Irish citizen. To do this, you will need to include your British or Irish passport details.

If you do not hold a British or Irish passport, you need to include either: 

  1. Details of when you were granted citizenship
  2. Details of your place of birth if you are a British citizen born before 1 January 1983.

If you were too young to have registered to vote in Northern Ireland before you left the UK, you will also need to include your parent’s or guardian’s details and a copy of your birth certificate. 

Send your completed application to the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland

Your overseas vote will be valid for three years, lasting until 1 November in the third year after it takes effect (for example, if your declaration takes effect on 1 March 2024, it will expire on 1 November 2026). You will be contacted when it is time to renew your overseas vote. 

Having a Trusted Person Vote On Your Behalf

If you won’t be in the UK on polling day, you can ask someone you trust to cast your vote on your behalf. This is called a proxy vote and the person casting your vote is often referred to as your proxy. 

If your proxy can’t get to the polling station, they can apply to vote on your behalf by post. This is called a postal proxy vote. If they are voting by post, they don’t need to live in the constituency where you last lived or were registered to vote.

How to Declare Your Citizenship

Alongside your application to register, you need to submit an overseas declaration. This must include: 

  1. Your full name and current address for correspondence
  2. A statement declaring you are a British Citizen  
  3. A statement explaining if you are registering to vote based on if you were previously registered to vote in the UK or that you previously lived in the UK  
  4. Your British passport details, even if your passport is expired
  5. If you do not have a passport, you need to include a statement to explain your citizenship status and the date and place you were born
  6. A statement that you believe the information stated in the declaration to be true
  7. The date of the declaration 

You may be asked to provide evidence to prove your eligibility. If you need to provide evidence, you can do so during the online application process. You can also send evidence by email, post or by hand. If your last UK address was in: 

  1. England or Wales, enter the postcode of your last UK address to find the contact details for contact your local council.
  2. Scotland, enter the postcode of your last UK address to find the contact details for contact your electoral registration office.

The electoral services team or local electoral registration office need to receive your declaration within three months after it is dated. If it is received after this date, your declaration will be rejected, and you will need to submit a new one. 

How To Renew Your Overseas Declaration

Overseas declarations are valid for three years, lasting until 1 November in the third year after it takes effect (for example, if your declaration takes effect on 1 March 2024, it will expire on 1 November 2026). Declarations will always expire on 1 November.

Your local council or electoral registration office will contact you when it is time to renew your overseas declaration. They will let you know what you need to do to renew your declaration. 

You can renew your declaration up to six months before it is due to expire. If you renew your declaration before it has expired, it will last until 1 November in the third year after you renew it (for example, if your declaration expires on 1 November 2024 but you renew it in August 2024, it will expire on 1 November 2026).

Renewals cannot be made online through GOV.uk. 

Your postal or proxy vote will run out at the same time as your overseas declaration. You can reapply for a proxy or postal vote when renewing your overseas declaration. 

How To Cancel Your Overseas Registration

If you want to cancel your overseas registration, you need to contact the relevant body to request this.

  1. In England and Wales contact your local council.
  2. In Scotland contact your electoral registration office.
  3. In Northern Ireland contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland

For more information, read more on The Electoral Commission.

Featured image by Simon Frederick


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Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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