To vote in a UK general election a person must be registered to vote and also
- 18 or over
- be a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.
- not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote
In the UK, Commonwealth and Irish citizens enjoy the same civic rights as British citizens, namely:
the right to vote in all elections (i.e., parliamentary, local, referendum and European elections) as long as they have registered to vote (they must possess valid leave to enter/remain or not require such leave on the date of their electoral registration application).
- the right, unless otherwise disqualified, to stand for election to the British House of Commons as long as they possess indefinite leave to remain or do not require leave under the Immigration Act 1971 to enter or remain in the UK.
- the right, if a qualifying peer or bishop, to sit in the House of Lords.
- eligibility to hold public office (e.g., as a judge, magistrate, minister, police constable, member of the armed forces, etc.).
The following cannot vote in a UK general election:
- members of the House of Lords (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)
- EU citizens resident in the UK (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)
- anyone other than British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens
- convicted persons detained in pursuance of their sentences (though remand prisoners, unconvicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register)
- anyone found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election.
Can you vote outside of the UK?
If you are away from the UK or for any reason cannot go to a polling station on election day, there is the option of applying for a postal vote.
The process is simple, but Northern Ireland voters will have to provide a valid reason applying for their ballot paper.
Another option available is to vote by proxy, by having another person cast your ballot paper on your behalf.
Applying for a postal vote
In order to apply for a postal vote you will first need to fill out the appropriate forms which you can find on gov.uk.
When you fill out the application, you will need to declare how long you wish to qualify for a postal vote. This means you will have to chose if you just want to vote in the general election, over a specific period of time or keep the postal vote permanently.
Put down your address, optional contact details and sign a declaration with your date of birth and signature.