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European elections: voting rights for EU citizens living abroad

Europawahl, Wahlurne in die ein Stimmzettel eingeworfen wird
© mitifoto / Fotolia

The European Parliament regularly receives enquiries from EU citizens living abroad about how to vote in the European elections.

Voting in the country of citizenship

EU citizens living abroad (whether in another EU country or outside the EU) may have the right to vote, under certain conditions, in the European Parliament elections in their country of citizenship.

Practical arrangements to vote in the European elections for people living abroad vary a great deal among EU countries: most countries allow voting at embassies or consulates, several countries allow citizens living abroad to vote by post, a few countries allow voting by proxy, and one (Estonia) allows e-voting. Some countries (such as the Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta and Slovakia) do not allow their citizens living outside the country to vote in the European elections.

Some EU countries require voters to pre-register with their national electoral authorities to be eligible to vote from abroad. Several EU countries (such as Bulgaria, Greece and Italy) grant the right to vote only to their citizens living in another EU country. In addition, most EU countries make special arrangements for diplomats and military personnel serving overseas. For some countries’ citizens (for instance Denmark), voting at embassies takes place prior to election day.

Voting in the country of residence

EU citizens living in an EU country of which they are not nationals have a right to vote in the European Parliament elections in the country where they live, under the same conditions as nationals. Special rules may apply in countries where non-nationals make up more than 20 % of the total electorate.

One citizen = one vote

Double voting in European elections (in the country of residence and in the country of citizenship) is strictly forbidden and subject to penalties. EU countries are required to exchange information at least six weeks before European elections to prevent double voting.

For further details, please refer to the national authorities organising the elections in your country.

Continue to put your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP)! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us.

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