Changes to voting in UK elections from overseas

2 Mar 2023

Changes to voting in UK elections from overseas

Date:  February 2023
What has changed in the Elections Act?

British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years have finally had their right to vote in UK general elections established in principle under the wide-ranging and controversial Elections Act given Royal Assent on the 28th April 2022.

The next steps involve the publication of secondary legislation giving details of how the new laws will work, followed by guidance from the Electoral Commission about how to put it into practice in time for the next general election.


What is happening right now and does it affect me? 

The first work on secondary legislation is focusing on the need for voter ID to be allowed to vote at a polling station in England at the May local elections.  That means if you are an overseas elector, you aren't immediately affected because you won't have a vote is these elections, but ...

If you know someone in England who plans to vote at the May 2023 elections, they will need either an accepted form of photo ID that is accepted or apply to their local council elections office for a free Voter Authority Certificate

For a General Election after October 2023, anyone voting at a polling station will need to prove their identity.

For any overseas elector or their proxy (someone who votes for you) at a polling station - that person will need to have one of the accepted forms of photo ID or a Voter Authority Certificate.


When will new British voters abroad be able to register?  

Frustratingly we still don't know for sure.  In the chaos surrounding this government, the official opening of registration for new overseas voters has been slipping backwards from the initial briefing of mid-2023.

We are pressing the government and the Electoral Commission to get moving and not leave it to the last minute - we will update you as soon as we can.


In the meantime ... 

Keep your registration up to date.  If you are currently eligible to vote (less than 15 years away from the UK) -   you can

  • Renew Your voter registration when the time comes.  Local councils usually contact you directly, but if you aren't sure if you are registered, use this tool to get their details and ask them directly  
  • Register to vote here using either the online portal or download and return the form provided

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