Did you know UK citizens can vote in the EU Referendum?

A guest blog written by the Electoral Commission's Director of Communications, Alex Robertson.


Lots of UK citizens who live overseas don’t know that they may be able to take part in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The referendum will take place on 23 June, so there’s no time to waste in making sure that as many overseas UK citizens as possible know that they may be able to vote.

To register as an overseas voter you must have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years. You will also need to know your National Insurance number and date of birth, and have your passport to hand if you have one. If you don’t have a National Insurance number you can still register, but you may have to supply more information to confirm your identity. If you don’t have a British passport you will be asked to provide an additional statement as part of your application.

If you were too young when you left the UK to have been registered, then you can register as an overseas elector if your parents (or guardians) were registered in the UK in the last 15 years.

Some UK citizens also don’t know how to take part in the referendum.

The first step in getting #ReferendumReady is to register to vote online at gov.uk/register-to-vote – it takes less than five minutes. Once that’s done, you can choose to vote via one of three methods.

Living overseas you’re unlikely to be able to vote in person, so the choice is really between voting by post or by proxy (you designate someone you trust to vote on your behalf in the UK).

If you register to vote by 16 May it should be easier to vote by post as postal votes for the referendum will be sent out earlier than usual, giving you a bit more time to receive, complete, and return your ballot pack to the UK. If you wish to vote by proxy, bear in mind that the person you choose to vote on your behalf must be registered and also be eligible to vote at the referendum.

An important thing we have learnt from previous polls is that the sooner overseas voters get registered to vote, the more time you have to arrange how you will vote. So don’t forget that in order to be #ReferendumReady you must apply for a postal or proxy vote after you submit your registration application.

The EU Referendum is going to be a significant event and we know lots of UK citizens will want to make their voices heard. Please spread the word to fellow UK citizens overseas and go to aboutmyvote.co.uk for more information.