EU referendum: Foreign Office urges British residents in Spain to register to vote

Updated 21 May:  Anyone who missed the deadline to register for a postal vote for the UK’s referendum on whether to Remain in or Leave the UK can still vote by proxy. The Foreign Office says that the deadline to register for a proxy vote, the final deadline for anyone to register to vote in advance of the referendum on 23 June, is 7 June.

The UK’s ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, said that he would “encourage those who have not yet registered to vote, and who are eligible to do so, to avail themselves of this final opportunity to have their say on 23 June”. The ambassador also said that he was well aware that those who have lived overseas for more than 15 years couldn’t vote, and he understood the frustration, but that the this was the electoral law in place. He explained that “the government will bring forward the Overseas Elector Bill to abolish this arbitrary time limit, but it must undergo full Parliamentary scrutinyand debate, so unfortunately it cannot be passed before the Referendum.”

More than 120,000 people with Spanish IP addresses have now visited since the beginning of the year. And thanks to the online system, more than 180,000 expats worldwide have so far completed their registration, nearly double the number for last year’s General Election, itself a record figure. The process is easy and takes just five minutes. Go to or search for ‘UK register to vote’ on You only need your National Insurance number and passport. If you did vote in the general election last year, don’t assume you are still on the roll: just as in the UK, you must renew your registration every year. You have until 7 June to go online and make sure you can have your say.

If you were last on the electoral roll in Northern Ireland then you need to act quickly. The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland says that if you are appointing a proxy to vote at the EU Referendum, the deadline for sending in your printed application is 5.00pm on 3 June.

Updated 16 May: Today is the last chance to register for an overseas postal vote for the UK’s EU referendum on 23 June. Simply visit with your passport, National Insurance number and last UK postcode. The process takes just 5 minutes. Anyone who misses today’s deadline for postal votes can still apply for a proxy vote.

Original post 29 April: The Foreign Office says that over a thousand British residents in Spain are registering every day to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June (for some background info see HERE). Anyone who hasn’t yet registered can do so by clicking on

British Ambassador Simon Manley today described the strong interest among British expats in voting in the referendum as ‘very encouraging’. Speaking to partners of the British Consulate and local authority foreigners’ departments, who are helping to spread the voter registration message, Mr Manley said:

The Foreign Office is supporting the Electoral Commission’s campaign to encourage Brits overseas to register to vote, and I’m pleased that so many are already preparing to exercise their democratic right.

Whether your view is that the UK should remain in or leave the EU, I urge all eligible expats to register to vote in this historic referendum. You may have spent many years working or living in the UK and perhaps still have strong ties: family, property, or a pension. Whatever your circumstances, the chances are the referendum outcome will affect you or your family.

So make sure you can have your say. It is for the British people to decide whether we’re stronger, safer and better off as part of the European Union, or on our own.

The FCO said that clicks on the site from computer users with Spanish IP addresses have averaged more than 1000 daily since the overseas voter registration campaign began on 4 February, with a total of over 80,000 people in Spain visiting it since the beginning of the year.

More than a quarter of a million Brits live in Spain and the large majority are thought to be eligible to vote. You must have been on the UK electoral roll within the last 15 years, or if you were under 18 when you left then at least one of your parents must have been on the electoral list.

The deadline to register for an overseas postal vote is 16 May, in order for ballot papers to be sent out from 23 May in time for them to arrive and for you to send them back. Simply visit with your passport, National Insurance number and last UK postcode. The process takes just 5 minutes. If you do miss the deadline, you can still apply for a proxy vote.

The FCO stresses that even if you registered as an overseas voter for the General Election last year, you do need to do so again because, just as in the UK, you must register every year in order to vote in UK elections and referendums.

Expats who want to know more about the EU referendum can visit the Government’s info page HERE, and you can find out more about voting at HERE. Expats who left the UK more than 15 years ago are unfortunately ineligible to vote, because legislation intended to remove the time limit cannot be passed before the referendum date.

With regard to my own considerations on the issues, and what effects a Leave vote might have on British residents in Tenerife, I wrote THIS page a while ago, and below is a “10 things you need to know” poster from the Foreign Office.

1 Comment

  1. from penmar

    Appalling that legislation has not been passed that would allow British Nationals to vote in the referendum, even if resident in Spain over the 15yr time limit that has been imposed. If it was intended that legislation would be passed to allow voting rights then surely this should have been done in plenty of time to allow our democratic rights. I have already mailed Downing Street on this matter some time ago.

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