Voting in Australian Elections While Living Overseas

voting in australian elections while living overseas

As an Australian Expat do you know what your obligations are with respect to voting in Australian elections while living overseas?

The Queensland government has just called an election for 25 November, and a by-election for the Federal seat of New England will occur on 2 December following the High Court ruling on Barnaby Joyce’s eligibility to sit in Parliament.

Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite – August 2017

The Australian Government has announced a same sex marriage postal vote on whether same sex marriage should become law in Australia.  More information on the same sex marriage plebiscite can be found here.

voting in Australian elections while living overseas

Is it Compulsory to be Voting in Australian Elections While Living Overseas?

According to the Australian Electoral Commission it is not compulsory to vote when you are outside of Australia.  However if you do not vote or apply for a postal vote, your registration and electoral enrolment may be cancelled.

What you should do when you move overseas?

When moving overseas you have two choices :

  • Register as an Overseas Elector
  • Remove your name from the electoral roll (if moving overseas indefinitely)

1. Register as an Overseas Elector

If you want to continue voting in Australian elections when living overseas, you can apply to be registered as an overseas elector if :

  • you are already enrolled to vote in federal elections; and
  • you intend to return to Australia within six years of leaving.

What this does is ensures your name is not removed from the electoral roll while you are living overseas, and ensures that you can continue to vote in federal elections and referendums that are held during your time abroad.  Many Australians that move overseas unknowingly find themselves removed from the electoral roll, and it is only possible to re-enrol if you have lived overseas for less than three years.  So the lesson is, if you want to have the right to continue voting in Australian elections, register as an Overseas Elector.

If you live abroad for more than six years you can apply to have your enrolment as an overseas elector extended by 1 year at a time.

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2. Remove Your Name From the Electoral Roll

If you are moving overseas indefinitely you can request your name be removed from the electoral roll.  You can complete and submit an Overseas Notification Form.

How to vote in Australian Elections While Living Overseas?

You can only vote if you are currently enrolled to vote on the Australian electoral roll.  If you are currently enrolled to vote and you live overseas, there are a number of options you have.

  1. Vote in Person
    You can check the locations of overseas voting centres by visiting the Australian Electoral Commission website soon after an election is called, and for what dates you will be able to vote.  Overseas voting centres are usually established at most Australian Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions.  You will usually be able to vote over a period of week or more prior to the official election day.
  2. Vote By Post
    If you are unable to reach an overseas voting centre, you can apply for a postal vote as soon as an election is called.  You can apply for a postal vote at the Australian Electoral Commission website here.
  3. Don’t Vote
    If you are unable to vote you can complete and submit an Overseas Notification Form to notify the AEC that you were overseas at the time of the election.

Note that the provisions for State and other elections vary from Federal elections.  You should check with the relevant authority for more information.

voting in australian elections while living overseas

Checking Your Enrolment Status

You can check your enrolment status online to find out your current enrolment details and where you are enrolled to vote.  You can check your enrolment online here.

If you need to update your enrolment before the next election, don’t wait.  Changes to the electoral roll can only be done up to approximately 7 days after an election is called.

Latest News on 2017 State Elections

Voters registered in Western Australia will go to the polls on 11 March 2017.  To be eligible to vote, you need to have registered by 9 February 2017.  More information is found at a dedicated WA election website setup by the Australian Electoral Commission here.

Latest News on 2 July 2016 Federal Election

UPDATE 14 June 2016

See my new article on when and where to vote in the 2 July 2016 election, as well as a summary of the new voting rules for the Senate (yes, they have changed how you need to fill in that massive sheet of paper!).


Disclaimer : This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial or taxation advice. As this information is not advice and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness for your circumstances. Independent advice should be obtained from an Australian financial services licensee before making investment decisions, and a registered (tax) financial advisor/accountant in relation to taxation decisions. To the extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for any loss or damage arising in any way.


About the author


Craig is an Australian Expat and the founder of The Australian Expat Investor. Craig is passionate about investing, and while Craig cannot give personal financial or tax advice, Craig enjoys sharing investing, tax, and other tips for Australian expats to help them to build their wealth while living abroad and get the most out of their time living overseas. Get his free ebook on 9 Financial Surprises That Could Cost Australian Expats Thousands of Dollars


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