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Published on Wednesday 20 March 2024

All Abroad - British citizens living abroad can now register to vote in UK general elections.

British citizens living abroad can now register to vote in UK general elections, regardless of how long they’ve been living outside the UK.

The change in voting eligibility follows a new law which has removed the previous 15-year time limit.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, are supporting the Electoral Commission’s campaign to raise awareness of this change by asking residents to spread the word and tell friends and family living abroad to check if they are eligible.

Those that 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 and will need to confirm their personal information every three years.

Graham Farrant, Chief Executive of BCP Council and the authority’s Returning Officer, said:

“This change means that more British citizens living abroad who previously lived in Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole may now be eligible to register to vote and vote in the forthcoming Parliamentary election.

“If you know anyone who used to live locally and is now living abroad, please help us to spread the word so they are aware of this new change.

“If they want to have their say at the next Parliamentary election, they need to be registered. It only takes five minutes and can be done online at It’s also now possible to apply online to vote by post or by proxy.

“They may wish to apply sooner rather than later, because we know there'll be a General Election sometime in the next 10 months.”

The government estimates that the abolishment of the 15-year rule could mean three million overseas British citizens could be eligible to vote.

Applicants will need to provide details of the address and time they were last registered or resident. BCP Council 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, along with a post code lookup tool that helps voters living overseas find the contact details for their local authority, using the postcode of the last place they lived in the UK.

Many voters living abroad choose to vote by post or proxy. Due to the reliance on postal systems and potential delays it is recommended where possible to appoint a proxy if living abroad. Applications for absent votes can now also be done online.

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