Overseas voters

Frequently asked questions on voting as a UK citizen living abroad.

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

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.

Find contact details for your local authority

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.

Find contact details for your local authority

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.

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.

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.