Australian Expats: Voting in elections when living overseas

If you live in the UK you still need to vote in Australian elections. You will also need to register to vote in UK elections. Make sure your electoral enrolment information is up to date in both countries to avoid expensive fines.

Voting in Australian Elections

  • When we were reading about the same-sex marriage postal vote and the Queensland state election we realised we needed to notify the Electoral Commission that we weren't going to be able to vote.

  • If you are travelling for an indefinite amount of time (like becoming resident in the UK) you have the option to be removed from the Australian electoral roll while you are away. Once you return to Australia you will be required to re-enrol.

Australian links

  • For all the information you need including links to the forms you need to fill out, visit the FAQs page for living or going overseas on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website.

  • There is a separate form for children who turn 18 when they are living in the UK and they may or may not have to register to vote - it all depends on their circumstances.

  • Make sure you get your form done before the next state/territory or federal election or as soon as possible afterwards. You can print, scan and submit your form online.

  • For more information about enrolling from overseas or registering as an overseas elector visit www.aec.gov.au

  • To be notified when a federal election is announced, you can subscribe at: http://apps.aec.gov.au/subscribe

Voting in UK Elections

  • We live in Scotland and we received a letter addressed to the householder asking for details of all persons required to vote in UK elections. Don't ignore this letter. Failure to complete the form or visit the website to provide details by a certain date may result in a £500 fine. I spent 2 minutes online registering our household members to vote and within 2 weeks we each got a letter confirming our enrolment. Fine avoided.

  • Australians over the age of 18 living permanently in the UK are eligible to vote. Registering to vote is mandatory but voting is not.

You can register to vote when you are:

  • aged 14 or older for Scottish Parliament and council elections

  • aged 16 or older for UK Parliament and European Parliament elections

You can't vote until you're:

  • aged 16 or over Scottish Parliament and council elections

  • aged 18 or older for UK Parliament and European Parliament elections

UK links

For all the information you need including links to the forms you need to fill out, visit the UK Government site register to vote in the UK. If you live in Scotland read more info on voting in Scotland.

Remember...

  • If you intend to apply for permanent residency (ILR) you need to be compliant with UK laws, including registering to vote.

  • When you return to Australia (to visit or live), the last thing you need is a fine for not voting. The original $200 fine will double or triple in value as administration and enforcement fees are added.

  • If you don't have the money to pay the fine and the fine has been converted into a warrant, you could find yourself locked up in the local police watchhouse for a week or more until the fine is paid off in time or until you have the money.

    • Tip 1: always get arrested with an EFTPOS card in your possession and money in the bank.

    • Tip 2: fix up your voting details in both countries.

Image credit: Australian House of Representatives