21st June 2024
Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash
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More British citizens can vote in UK general elections, as 15-year rule ends

British citizens living abroad are now eligible to register to vote in UK general elections, regardless of how long they’ve been living outside the UK. A new law has removed the previous 15-year time limit.

Supporting the awareness raising campaign of the UK’s Electoral Commission, the British Embassy in Madrid is calling on British residents living in Spain to check if they are eligible. The Commission is the independent and impartial organisation that oversees elections in the UK.

Those who have previously lived in or been registered to vote in the UK now have the right to vote in UK Parliament elections. They can register online at www.gov.uk/registertovote and will need to confirm their personal information every three years. Anyone on a UK electoral register is also considered a permissible donor to UK political parties and campaigners. 

British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, said: ‘This law means that more British citizens living in Spain will now be eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary elections, which is good news. We’re asking the British community here to help us spread the word, because it’s important that eligible people are made aware of the changes so that they can register and cast a ballot when the time comes.’

It ‘only takes five minutes to register’, according to the British Embassy, and voting can be done by post or by proxy. Applicants will need to provide details of the address and time they were last registered or resident. Local authorities must be able to verify an applicant’s identity and past connection to the area.  

More information is available on the Electoral Commission’s website. Voters living overseas can find contact details for the relevant local council by entering the postcode of the last place they lived in the UK, using the Commission’s postcode look-up tool.  

No date has been announced for the next general election in the UK, although it must be held before 28 January 2025. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently suggested that his ‘working assumption’ was that the vote would be called in the latter part of this year.

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