If you want to vote in the UK and you live abroad, the safest way to vote is by proxy – in other words getting someone in the UK to vote for you. But if this is a hassle to arrange, or you’re in a country where the post is pretty quick and reliable, then you can arrange a postal vote with the UK local authority where you last voted.
Please remember when you re-register annually, you must also renew your postal or proxy vote.
Fill out a postal vote form here. The sooner you do this the better because different local authorities send out postal votes by post at different times and you obviously need to receive it by post, fill it out and get it back to them in time. Your postal vote needs to be with your local authority by 5pm on polling day to be counted.
If you don’t know your local authority, you can enter your postcode here.
You can apply for a postal vote here.
Issue of paid or free postage: Postal votes come with an “international reply paid” envelope. The Electoral Commission say it needs no stamps. However, some people in Spain, Germany and Belgium have been told by their local post offices in previous elections that they are not valid. It is thus probably best to double check with your Post Office before you post and/or add normal postage to ensure your ballot paper definitely arrives.
Anyone worried about the use of the International Business Reply Service envelopes to return their ballot papers should read the following from Deutsche Post in Germany and the Electoral Commission. It is up to voters if they want to add stamps but it is not necessary.
Here is an example reply from the German postal services when concerns were raised that some German post outlets were not accepting IBRS format: (7 June 2016)
“In general we accept A5 envelopes as IBRS (International business reply service) and all our retail outlets and production facilities are informed about the IBRS service. However, as IBRS is a product that is seldom posted at our outlets it might happen that a retail partner who is not familiar with IBRS requests postage from the sender. In this case the customers concerned can alternatively throw [post] the envelopes in one of our 110,000 letterboxes.”
Electoral Commission statement 7 June 2016 regarding the European Election:
“Postal votes being returned by overseas voters for the EU Referendum use the International Business Reply Service (IBRS). This service is commonly used for international mail and does not require any additional postage to be affixed. We are aware that a very small number of voters may have been incorrectly informed that the postal service in a handful of locations in Europe cannot accept IBRS items.
“Royal Mail has confirmed that IBRS is accepted across all international posts. It is working closely with postal operators to ensure acceptance of postal votes. Voters are advised that once a ballot is in the postal system (i.e. if it has been posted into a post box) it will be processed”