Living abroad will undoubtedly make any expat miss a few things in their home country, but voting in elections shouldn’t be one of them. Whether it’s to elect the next President or Prime Minister, or just your local mayor, being abroad shouldn’t keep you from your right to vote back home.
Here’s how you can vote from abroad — and, if you’re been living in France for long enough, how to vote in France as an expat.
Can I vote in France?
Yes, if you’re an EU citizen over the age of 18 who is living in France. You can vote in the municipal French elections, as well as the European Parliamentary Elections. If you have been banned from voting in another EU state, you are not eligible.
In order to vote in France, you must register yourself at the town hall (mairie) or online. However, if this is your first time voting in France, you should register in-person at your mairie. Registration must be done before the last working day in December, in the year preceding the elections.
To register, you will need:
- Proof of nationality (passport or driver’s licence)
- Proof of ID (passport)
- Proof of address in France (energy bill, phone bill or rent receipt)
- A completed voter registration form (Cerfa n°12670*01)
If registered, you can vote in several EU municipal elections at a time, but only once in the European Parliamentary Elections. If you are an EU citizen voting in France, you are voting a French representative to the European Parliament. You cannot vote as another EU state or in another State of the Union.
If you want to vote in both municipal and European elections (as a voter in different EU states), you will need to register yourself as a voter in both.
If you need to vote by proxy in France, fill out this form (Cerfa n° 14952*01) and bring it to your local mairie. You must name a proxy (who must be registered to vote), give proof of absence (such as a medical note or letter from your supervisor), and show your ID.
You cannot vote by mail or online in the EU elections.
Voting day in France
Your polling station will be in your local mairie, which is based on your address in France. When you register to vote, you will be on a list in your municipalité. This can mean the local area where you have been living permanently/for more than six months, or where you have been paying taxes for the last five years.
You can find more information about electoral municipalités here.
Voting from abroad
If your home country is having an election while you’re in France, you can still cast your vote from abroad in a few different ways.
Voting abroad in American elections
American voters abroad are eligible to vote in presidential, primary and general elections.
You must fill out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and send it to your home-state elections office (the state where you last lived before moving abroad).
If you were abroad when you voted in the last election, you may not receive your absentee ballot automatically, and so you should register yourself every election year to make sure you receive one.
Most states will send you an absentee ballot by email, but you must send back your response by regular mail or courier.
You can find out more information on absentee voting by visiting the Overseas Vote Foundation website. A 24-hour helpline is also available at +1 202 470 2480.
Voting abroad in Canadian elections
Canadians can vote from abroad and be added to the International Register of Electors if they are 18 years of age or older and have lived in Canada at any point in their lives.
When an election is called, registered voters from outside of Canada will receive a special ballot voting kit in order to vote from abroad. You can register yourself as an international voter here.
After you receive your voting kit, you can send it back to Elections Canada by mail or courier.
The addresses are as follows:
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC K1A 0M6
PO Box 9830 Stn T
Ottawa, ON K1G 5W7
Voting abroad in UK elections
You may cast an overseas vote in UK elections as long as you have registered to vote and have applied to vote by post or by proxy. You are allowed to be an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK, and must have been registered to vote in the UK over the last 15 years.
Overseas voters need to renew their voter registration on the electoral roll every year in order to remain eligible.
Voting by post in UK elections
If you’re looking to vote by post, you must have sent back your completed and signed postal vote application form at least 11 business days before the election.
You will receive your ballot and a form confirming your identity to your home address around seven days before the election. If this is being sent to your overseas address, make sure it can be delivered to you and returned back to the UK within five business days.
All votes must be received by the Returning Officer before the end of the voting day.
Voting by proxy in UK elections
Your proxy must be over 18 years of age and has registered to vote. They must also not be disqualified to vote in any way. If you are voting by proxy in a General Election, the proxy must be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen.
Voting in UK elections regarding Brexit
The process of voting in any Brexit-related elections is the same as described above. As long as you are registered to vote, you may vote overseas by post or proxy.
You will need to supply your National Insurance number and previous UK address, as well as your passport number. Your vote will be cast in the last constituency you lived in, so make sure your proxy votes in the right polling station.
There has been some controversy over whether or not UK citizens living abroad have had their votes counted in previous elections, due to the unreliability of the postal service. Because of this, many media outlets are saying overseas voters should vote by proxy, to ensure their vote is counted.
Voting abroad in Irish elections
You must be a resident of Ireland and your name must be listed on the Electoral Register. This Register is compiled every year and published on the first of November.
That being said, if you are abroad you cannot vote in Irish elections, unless you are an Irish official who is working abroad. Irish officials may apply to vote by post, and applications for this must be received before November 25.
Voting abroad in Australian elections
You may register to vote from abroad as long as you intend to return to Australia within the next six years and have not been out of the country for more than three years. This doesn’t apply to children who are living with their parents overseas.
Your address can be confirmed on the Australian Electoral Commission website (AEC). You will also have to fill out this registration form to become an overseas voter.
Once registered, you can vote by post or in person at the nearest Australian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. Postal votes should be submitted online once an election is announced.
You can find more details about voting overseas here.
Voting abroad in other international countries
Check in with your country’s embassy in France to find out how to vote in your country’s elections.