Important changes for Brits in Spain: Registering to vote in UK elections

by Lorraine Williamson
UK elections

The UK Electoral Commission has announced several important changes to the voting process for British and eligible Irish citizens residing overseas. These updates are crucial for those wishing to participate in UK Parliamentary elections.

This article is aimed at all Brits living in Spain.

Who can register?

If you are a British citizen or an eligible Irish citizen who has previously lived in the UK or been registered to vote there, you are eligible to register. This includes those who may not have been registered to vote before leaving the UK. Additionally, there is no longer a time limit on how long you have been living abroad; you can register to vote regardless of how many years have passed since you left the UK or were last registered.

Key changes to voting from overseas

  1. Expanded Eligibility: You can now register even if you were not previously registered to vote when you lived in the UK.
  2. Extended Validity: Your overseas voter declaration now lasts for up to three years. For example, a declaration made on 1 March 2024 will be valid until 1 November 2026.
  3. Online Registration: Eligible voters can now register online (except in Northern Ireland), simplifying the process for those living abroad.

Renewing your registration

If you registered before 16 January 2024, you must renew your registration upon the expiry of your current overseas declaration. Similarly, if you applied for a proxy vote before 31 October 2023, it will expire on 31 January 2024, necessitating a new application.

For those with a long-term postal vote applied for before 31 October 2023, it will expire 12 months after your most recent declaration. The electoral services team from your local council will contact you before your postal vote expires to remind you to renew.

Steps to register

To register to vote, you must be a British citizen or an eligible Irish citizen and have previously lived in the UK or been registered to vote there. Here’s how you can check and complete your registration:

Cogesa Expats
  1. Check Your Registration Status: If unsure about your registration status, use the postcode of your last UK address to find contact details for your local council or electoral registration office through the provided search tools.
  2. Apply to Register: You can apply online via the gov.uk website or by downloading and submitting a paper application form. Telephone applications may also be an option, depending on your last UK address.
  3. Required Information: When applying, you’ll need your last UK address, your National Insurance number, and your date of birth to verify your identity.

Voting methods

Overseas voters have several options: voting by proxy, by post, or in person if they happen to be in the UK on polling day. Note that voting in person at a British embassy, high commission, or consulate is not permitted.

Find out more

Stay informed about these changes and ensure your voice is heard in the next UK Parliamentary elections. For more detailed information, visit the UK Electoral Commission’s website or contact your local council’s electoral services team.

Register now to make sure your vote counts!

For further details, visit the UK Electoral Commission’s website or contact your local electoral registration office.

This article aims to keep the British expatriate community in Spain informed about their voting rights and the new regulations affecting overseas voters.

Also read: British expats in Spain urged to apply for TIE

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