With just seven weeks left to register to vote in the European elections, the Electoral Commission is urging UK expats to visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/overseas to make sure they can have their say on Thursday 22 May.

The election watchdog’s overseas voter campaign launched in February, with adverts placed on Facebook, expat radio stations and on websites popular with UK expats.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), expat organisations and political parties have also joined the campaign to ensure the message is spread far and wide.

“Many people have already downloaded their registration form, but we don’t want any eligible expats to miss out.” said Samantha Mills, Head of Campaigns at the Electoral Commission. “It only takes a few minutes but time is running out. Expats need to act now to make sure they’re on the register by the deadline of Tuesday 6 May.”

Every British citizen who has been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years is eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections and European Parliamentary elections. Those who were too young to register when they left the UK can still register as an overseas voter as long as their parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years.

It is also important for expatriates to think about how they are going to cast their vote. Ballot papers can be sent overseas but people must think about whether they have time to receive and return these papers by polling day. Those who think they might not have time may want to consider voting by proxy.This involves nominating a person they trust in the UK to vote on their behalf.


Materials to support the campaign – including a web banner and email signature – are available to download from our website under the ‘promoting voter registration’ section.


Interviews are available via ISDN line, or over the phone, by contacting the Electoral Commission’s press office on +44 20 7271 0704.


  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.\Resources for journalists, including photographs to download, are available on our website: www.electoralcommission.org.uk/news-and-media
  2. There have been two relatively recent estimates of the total number of UK citizens living abroad; one by the Institute for Public Policy Research, in 2006, put the number at 5.5 million and one by the World Bank, in 2010, estimated it to be 4.7 million. However the precise number is calculated, it is considerably more than the total number of UK citizens registered as overseas voters which was just under 19,500 as at 1 December 2012.
  3. The deadline to register to vote for the election is midnight on Tuesday 6 May. The deadline for receiving new postal vote and postal proxy applications is 5pm on Wednesday 7 May. The deadline for receiving new applications to vote by proxy is 5pm on Wednesday 14 May.