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British expat voting: How to vote in the UK General Election on 4th July 2024 when living abroad

Even if you live abroad, it is still important that you vote and with the recent removal of the 15-year rule, all British expats are now eligible to vote. Find out how you can vote as an expat in the forthcoming UK General Election.

Written by E4E Editor on 27 May 2024

Even if you live abroad, ensuring that you vote in the UK is still important, as government policies will still affect a number of crucial factors in your life including taxes, wealth management, and foreign policy.

After the spate of General Elections between 2015 and 2019, it feels like an age since we last went to the polls to elect our governing party. Traditionally, British expats have had low voter turnouts due to a number of reasons. But this time, regardless of how long you’ve lived abroad, you can have your say on who you want to represent you in Parliament and which party you want to ultimately run the country.

At the last General Election in 2019, there were a total of 47.5 million registered voters. And yet, just 32 million votes were registered – representing just 67.3% of the total registered voting population.

There are currently estimated to be around 5.5 million British expats living abroad, but in the 2019 General Election the Electoral Commission estimated that there were only around 230,000 British expats registered to vote.

Unlike in previous General Elections, all British expats are now eligible to vote in the UK – regardless of how long they have lived outside the UK.

Detailed information about voting if you move or live abroad can be found here, on the Government website:

Why should British expats vote?

One common comment from the electorate is: “Why should people who no longer live in the UK have any say in elections?”

Ultimately, British nationals who no longer live in the UK are still subject to elements of UK law – as well as UK tax – and are directly impacted by international policy. Simply put, your vote is your chance to have your say who you want to represent you in parliament.

In recent years debate has raged about the UK’s immigration policy, with the UK voting to leave the European Union in part to have more freedom when it comes to immigration policy. Ultimately, with 2 million British expats living within the EU, the potential ramifications are still being felt – but only a proportion of those impacted could actually have a say.

Then there’s taxation. British expats are still potentially subject to tax on their UK sourced income, as well as inheritance tax.

It is also estimated that 20% of British expats are pensioners, many of whom are claiming the State Pension.

Why do so few expats vote?

 One of the most pertinent reasons why British expats do not vote is that it is not immediately obvious how or when to vote.

Living in the UK, we are bombarded with news, information and campaigns on a day-to-day basis in the lead up to key election dates. We are encouraged to register more proactively with postal registrations through the door at least twice a year. Simply put, this doesn’t happen abroad.

While many British expats will read UK news, visit UK websites, very few actually focus on the expats themselves. Up until this year, it had not been possible to register to vote online which, when combined with a general feeling of disillusionment, is one barrier too many for a lot of expats.

Now it is possible to register to vote online, expectation is that there will be more registrants for the next General Election. However, it will still be necessary to either vote by post or through proxy (i.e. getting someone to vote for you in the UK).

It’s only a matter of time before this changes and the voting system becomes a fully online process for expats, however this is not expected to happen in time for the 2024 General Election.

Who should I vote for?

Knowing who to vote for is obviously a key factor in any election, and is currently one of the reasons so many people opt out of voting – they don’t know about key policies, or they don’t believe that policies will be carried out.

Another common barrier to voting is identifying which party most accurately reflects your political viewpoint. And with growing voter apathy, some people now just “don’t care”.

However, every party does have very clear policies set out – some of which will often get lost in the high-profile public debates.

We don’t believe it is right for us to try to explain each of the party’s policies as we do not want to introduce bias – a quick Google search will help you find the official policies of the parties involved in the General Election.

Additionally, sites such as Who Can I Vote For will help you find the candidates standing in the UK constituency you are voting in, their party manifesto, election history, social media accounts and more information about them.

How to register to vote

The first step to being able to vote in the 2024 General Election is to get yourself registered – and do it sooner rather than later.

Are you already registered to vote?

If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote, you can check your current registration status using the following links:

You will also need to register every three years if you live abroad, or you will be removed from the electoral register.

If you are not registered, it’s time to get registered to vote.

Registering to vote

Registering to vote is relatively straightforward. You can do it online in under five minutes. Here’s how:

  1. You will need your previous UK postcode and address, passport and (optionally) your National Insurance number to hand if you have one.
  2. Visit
  3. On the next page, choose the option “British citizen living in another country” and then follow the simple instructions.

The deadline for registering to vote in the 2024 General Election is: 11.59pm Tuesday 18th June 2024.

Do not leave it until the last moment, as historically the website servers can become overwhelmed and cause people to miss the deadline.

Once you have registered to vote, you then need to choose whether you wish to vote by proxy (nominate someone else to manually vote for you) or vote by post and then apply to do so.

Voting by proxy

If you wish to vote by proxy, you will need to have applied by 5pm on Wednesday 26th June 2024.

Information about voting by proxy can be found on the Electoral Commission website:

Voting by post

At the last General Election, people who left their registration until the deadline (two weeks before the vote) did not receive their paper ballots in time. In some cases, they arrived after the date of the General Election.

The deadline to apply to vote by post in the 2024 General Election is 5pm Wednesday 19th June 2024.

This is particularly important if you intend to vote by post rather than by proxy or in person, as you are dependent on the various forms reaching you in time to be able to return them.

Information about voting by post can be found on the Electoral Commission website: