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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Voting from abroad

If you move abroad, you keep the right to vote in general elections and European Union elections for up to 15 years, but you can't vote in UK local government elections. You can also vote by post or proxy if you will just be temporarily abroad on election day.

Registering as an overseas voter

If you’re a British citizen living abroad, but you’ve been registered to vote in the UK within the past 15 years, you can apply to be an overseas voter.

You can download and print a registration form from the About My Vote website, and send it to the electoral registration office for the area where you were last registered to vote. Or you can contact the electoral registration office and ask them to send you an overseas voter registration form.

You will need to ask someone to sign a witness declaration on your form. They have to be another British citizen living abroad, but not a close relative. They don’t have to live in the same country as you. If you don’t know anyone suitable, then you can ask British Consulate or Embassy staff to sign your form.

Not registered in the UK

If you weren’t registered to vote in the UK, you can't vote from abroad - unless you were too young to register when you left the UK. If so, you can register with the electoral registration office where your parent or guardian was last registered, as long as you left the UK within the past 15 years. You must enclose a photocopy of your birth certificate with your application.

Registering as a service voter

If you are serving abroad with the Armed Forces (Army, Navy or RAF), or you may be posted abroad at short notice, you can register as a service voter. Husbands, wives or civil partners of service personnel can also register as service voters.

You can register using the UK address where you last lived, or where you would be living if you were still in the UK.

Service declaration forms are available from the About My Vote website, or by contacting the local electoral registration office for the address where you want to register. You must renew your service declaration every three years.

Postal or proxy voting

All overseas voters can vote by post or by proxy. Postal votes are sent to you about a week before the election. If it would be difficult for you to receive and return a postal vote in time, consider voting by proxy.

A proxy vote means you ask someone you know and trust to vote on your behalf. They can go to your polling station, or they can apply to vote for you by post.

Find out more about postal and proxy votes in ‘Voting at an election’.

Returning to the UK from abroad

Remember to register if you return to live in the UK, so you don't lose your chance to vote. You can register to vote at your new address by filling in a registration form and sending it to your local electoral registration office.

If you are serving in the Armed Forces and returning to the UK, you can either continue to make a service declaration, or you can register to vote in the usual way with your local electoral registration office.

Temporarily abroad

If you live in the UK but you will be away from home on election day – for example, on holiday or travelling on business – you can apply to vote by post or by proxy. Find out more in ‘Voting at an election’.

Additional links

Register to vote

Find out about voting and download a registration form

Elections 2009

European and local elections on 4 June 2009

Find out about the elections in your area

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