Before 1985 British citizens resident outside the United Kingdom were unable toregister to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. The Representation of thePeople Act 1985 extended the franchise to British citizens resident outside theUKand enabled them to register as ‘overseas voters’ in the constituency for which they were last registered. This was initially for a period of 5 years, later extended to 20 years by the Representation of the People Act 1989, and then reduced to 15 years by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. [...]
Overseas voters cannot register to vote if they have never been registered as a voter in the UK although if a voter left the UK before he was18 he can be registered at his parents' or guardians' address provided that he left the UK no more than 15 years ago.
Overseas voters have to register to vote each year in the same way as voters living in the UK.The first time an overseas voter makes an application to be included on the register his declaration that he is living overseas must also be accompanied byan attestation by a British citizen. The Electoral Registration Officer will send the overseas voter a renewal form each year until the end of the 15 year period. Overseas voters can vote by post or proxy, or in person at their allotted polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. The Electoral Commission recommends that overseas voters should consider appointing a proxy to vote on their behalf because of the short period available to be sent and return a postal vote overseas.
If the overseas voter is serving in the armed forces, or is a Crown servant, there are different provisions for registering to vote as they are notsubject to the 15 year rule. Briefly, members of HM forces and their spousescan either register by means of a service declaration or can choose to beregistered as an ordinary elector instead. A service declaration is valid forfive years and then has to be renewed.7 Crown servants and British Councilemployees employed in a post outside the UK, together with their spouses,are also entitled to be registered for all elections and have to submit a CrownServant or British Council declaration with their application to register.
Every British citizen who has been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years is eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary (general) elections and European Parliamentary elections.
5.33 British citizens living overseas who had moved to another countrywithin the last 15 years, and who had previously been registered in the UK, could register to vote in the UK general election as an ‘overseasvoter’. Overseas voters could choose to vote by post or appoint a proxy.
British citizens living abroad are eligible to register and vote asoverseas electors if their name was previously on the electoral register for anaddress in the UK and no more than 15 years have passed between thequalification date of that register and the date on their application toregister as an overseas elector; or if they have reached the age of 18 whileliving abroad and they were too young to be on an electoral register before they left the UK and aparent or guardian was on the electoral register for the address at which theywere living on that date.