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A guide to Voting in Elections whilst living abroad



About this guide

In this guide, we examine voting for residents in Spain who are not Spanish citizens. The guide covers voting in Spanish Municipal Elections and the voting rights of individuals from specific countries in their respective "home" countries.


Non-Spanish Residents and Munincipal Elections

Adult residents from countries with established voting agreements with Spain are eligible to participate in municipal elections.

These countries include Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Duration of Residency Requirement

EU citizens can register to vote immediately, whereas individuals from the 13 countries with voting agreements must have resided in Spain for a specified period before being granted voting rights.

Residents of the UK must have been living in the country for at least 3 years by the date of registration on the electoral census, while residents of Norway must have lived in Spain for a minimum of 3 years by the day of the election. Individuals from the other 11 countries must have been residents for at least 5 years by the time of registration to vote.

Registration Process

Upon registering on the local Padron, your right to vote will also be registered. Subsequently, your Ayuntamiento will send you the necessary documents to confirm your intention to vote. Verify the details, follow the instructions to sign and return the documents as required.

Procedure on Election Day

On election day, when you visit the polling station, you will find a set of postcard-sized leaflets representing each party participating in the elections.

You must select the leaflet of the party you wish to vote for, place it in an envelope, and submit it to one of the clerks. Your identification will be verified, you will be checked off the list, and you can then deposit your envelope into the designated box. If there are National and Regional elections occurring simultaneously, distinct coloured envelopes will be provided. You are only allowed to vote in the Regional election, so ensure you select the appropriate colour. Some parties may deliver leaflets and envelopes to your residence; you can bring these to the polling station after confirming the details are correct.


UK Citizens voting in UK Parliamentary elections

Effective January 16, 2024, all UK citizens residing overseas are now eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary elections.

To register for either proxy or postal voting, you will need to provide:

  • Your previous UK address

  • Your passport number

  • Your National Insurance number

You must also provide your Spanish address, email, and telephone number. Upon application, you will receive an application number by email to vote for the Member of Parliament representing your last residential address.

To register online or obtain the postal registration form, please visit this link:


Once registered, you can opt for registration by proxy or by postal vote.

Proxy Voting:

The designated proxy voter must cast the vote at the polling station corresponding to your previous address and the application must be submitted by 5pm, 6 working days before polling day. Proxy voting can be for:

  • a single election

  • a specific period

  • permanent

Postal Voting:

Registration for postal voting must be completed by 5pm, 11 working days before the first election you wish to participate in. Postal voting can be for:

  • a single election

  • a specific period

  • up to 3 years

Both registration processes can be completed online or via mail.


Note: Procedures for Northern Ireland residents differ slightly. Further information can be accessed through this link:


EU Citizens Resident in Spain Voting in EU elections

Citizens of another EU country who are resident in Spain and are at least 18 years old on election day are eligible to vote in the European elections. The voting can be done via post or in person at the assigned polling station based on your registration.


To register

At any time online at the webiste of the National Statistics Institute (INE): here (available in Spanish) or at your local town hall by filling in the formal declaration from: here (in Spanish) also available at all town halls. You will also have to disclose your last electoral constituency to prevent double voting and express your wish to vote in Spain.


In addition, in the months prior to the elections, the Electoral Census Office (OCE) sends a notification to EU citizens who are registered and have not previously expressed their intention to exercise their right to vote. Please note: the OCE only sends the letter once: if you do not respond, it will assume that you do not intend to vote in Spain.


Citizens of the United States of America

If you are a US citizen residing outside the US, you are entitled to participate in US elections as an overseas voter. This right is extended to all US citizens, regardless of whether you are registered to vote in the US, have cast a ballot before, or have been living abroad for an extended period of time. Overseas voters have the eligibility to vote in federal elections, including those for President, US Senate, and US House of Representatives. Federal elections are held biennially. Overseas voters have the right to participate in both the primary and general elections, as well as any special federal elections that may be necessary outside the regular election cycle. In addition, some overseas voters may be eligible to vote in state elections such as those for Governor, State Representative, or State Senator. For further details and guidance on registering to vote from abroad, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website via this link


Citizens of The Republic of Ireland

Most elections in the Republic of Ireland require voters to be registered based on their residential address. Non-resident voters are typically limited to those serving abroad on government assignments, such as Irish diplomats, their spouses, as well as Defence Forces and Garda Síochána personnel (excluding their spouses).


Citizens of Canada

Canadian citizens residing outside of Canada have the option to apply for inclusion in the International Register of Electors. Once registered, they can vote by special mail-in ballot in future federal elections, by-elections, and referendums.

The International Register of Electors is a centralised database of Canadian citizens living abroad who have applied for voting through special ballots. To be considered for inclusion in the International Register of Electors, individuals must:

- Meet the qualifications to vote (Canadian citizen at least 18 years of age on election day)

- Have resided in Canada at some point in their lifetime

Applications can be submitted at any time by:

- Completing the Application for registration and special ballot form

- Requesting an application by mail from Elections Canada

- Visiting a Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate abroad. Prior arrangements should be made with the office as not all locations offer electoral services.

Once the application is approved, the individual's name will be added to the International Register of Electors. During a federal general election, by-election, or referendum, Elections Canada will automatically send an eligible voter a special ballot voting kit.

For further information, please follow this link



 

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