Overseas Electors

Changes to voting in UK Parliament elections from overseas

In 2022, the UK Parliament passed the Elections Act, which made several changes to the UK’s electoral system. These changes include the removal of the 15-year limit on the rights of eligible British citizens to vote in UK Parliament elections.

Do you have friends or family living abroad who are British citizens? Let them know they can now vote in UK Parliament elections even if they’ve lived outside the UK for more than 15 years.

They will need to have previously lived or been registered to vote in the UK at some point in their life.

Applying to register as an overseas elector

To register to vote as an overseas elector online go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Alternatively, you can ask us for a paper application form by email [email protected]

Overseas declarations are now valid for three years, lasting until 1 November in the third year after they take effect.

These changes apply to UK Parliament general elections, by-elections and recall petitions. They do not apply to local elections or elections for the Scottish Parliament.

As an overseas elector you can vote in the following ways:

Proxy vote Where someone you know who is eligible and registered to vote in the election goes to your polling station to cast your vote for you. Your appointed proxy can, should they wish to do so, then apply to vote by post. They will need to apply for this themselves after you apply for them to be your proxy.
Postal vote Where you receive and send back a postal ballot pack yourself. If you are considering this option, it is important to consider that:

  • Depending on when you apply for it, your postal vote pack will be sent out between 12 and 6 working days before polling day.
  • Your completed postal vote pack must arrive at the return address by 10pm on polling day to be valid.
  • Postal votes are delivered by Royal Mail in the UK and local mail delivery services internationally. If post is likely to take longer than 6 working days to reach you and be returned to the UK, a proxy vote may be a better option.
In person Where you will be expected to travel to your designated polling station. You cannot, however, vote in person at a British embassy, high commission or consulate.

For more information visit electoralcommission.org.uk/overseasvoters