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Representation of the People Act 1985

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Representation of the People Act 1985, Cross Heading: Extension of franchise to British citizens overseas is up to date with all changes known to be in force on or before 25 June 2024. There are changes that may be brought into force at a future date. Changes that have been made appear in the content and are referenced with annotations. Help about Changes to Legislation

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Extension of franchise to British citizens overseasU.K.

[F11Extension of parliamentary franchise.U.K.

[F2(1)A person is entitled to vote as an elector at a parliamentary election in any constituency if—

(a)he qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of that constituency on the date on which he makes a declaration under and in accordance with section 2 of this Act (“the relevant date”);

(b)on that date and on the date of the poll—

(i)he is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote, and

(ii)he is a British citizen; and

(c)on the date of the poll he is registered in a register of parliamentary electors for that constituency.

(2)For the purposes of this Act and the principal Act a person qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of a constituency on the relevant date if—

(a)on that date he is not resident in the United Kingdom, and

(b)he satisfies one of the following sets of conditions.

(3)The first set of conditions is that—

(a)he was included in a register of parliamentary electors in respect of an address at a place that is situated within the constituency concerned,

(b)that entry in the register was made on the basis that he was resident, or to be treated for the purposes of registration as resident, at that address,

(c)that entry in the register was in force at any time falling within the period of [F315 years] ending immediately before the relevant date, and

(d)subsequent to that entry ceasing to have effect no entry was made in any register of parliamentary electors on the basis that he was resident, or to be treated for the purposes of registration as resident, at any other address.

(4)The second set of conditions is that—

(a)he was last resident in the United Kingdom within the period of [F315 years] ending immediately before the relevant date,

(b)he was by reason only of his age incapable of being included in any register of parliamentary electors in force on the last day on which he was resident in the United Kingdom, and

(c)the address at which he was resident on that day was at a place that is situated within the constituency concerned and a parent or guardian of his was included, in respect of that address, in a register of parliamentary electors or a register of local government electors in force on that day.

(5)The reference in subsection (1) above to a person being subject to a legal incapacity to vote on the relevant date does not include a reference to his being under the age of 18 on that date; and the reference in subsection (4) above to a register of local government electors includes a reference to a register of electors prepared for the purposes of local elections (within the meaning of the M1Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962).]]

[F2(1)A person is entitled to vote as an elector at a parliamentary election in a constituency if—

(a)on the declaration date, the person—

(i)qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of that constituency (see section 1A),

(ii)is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart), and

(iii)is a British citizen, and

(b)on the date of the poll, the person—

(i)is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote,

(ii)is a British citizen, and

(iii)is registered in a register of parliamentary electors for that constituency.

(2)In this section, “the declaration date” means—

(a)the date on which the person makes a declaration under and in accordance with section 1C (overseas elector’s declaration), or

(b)where the person makes a declaration under and in accordance with section 1E (renewal declaration), the date on which the person makes the declaration.]

Textual Amendments

F1S. 1 substituted (16.2.2001) by 2000 c. 2, s. 8, Sch. 2 para. 2; S.I. 2001/116, art. 2(1) (subject to transitional provisions in art. 2(3)-(5))

F2Ss. 1-1E substituted for ss. 1, 2 (6.2.2023 for specified purposes) by Elections Act 2022 (c. 37), ss. 14(1), 67(1); S.I. 2023/115, reg. 2(b)(i)

F3Words in s. 1(3)(4) substituted (1.4.2002) by 2000 c. 41, s. 141(a) (with s. 156(6)); S.I. 2001/3526, art. 4

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1S. 1(3)(4)(b) modified (8.4.2010) by Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (c. 25), ss. 42(7), 52

C2S. 1(3)(4)(b) modified (14.5.2014) by House of Lords Reform Act 2014 (c. 24), ss. 4(6), 7(3)

C3S. 1(3)(4)(b) modified (16.2.2001) by S.I. 2001/84, art. 2

C4S. 1(4)(b) modified (14.5.2014) by House of Lords Reform Act 2014 (c. 24), ss. 4(6), 7(3)

Marginal Citations

[F21AQualification as an overseas elector in respect of a constituencyU.K.

(1)For the purposes of this Act and the principal Act, a person qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of a constituency on the declaration date if—

(a)on that date the person is not resident in the United Kingdom, and

(b)the person satisfies the previous registration condition or the previous residence condition.

(2)A person satisfies the previous registration condition if—

(a)the person has at some time in the past been entered in an electoral register in respect of an address at a place that is situated within the constituency, and

(b)subsequent to that entry ceasing to have effect, the person has not been included in any electoral register (whether in respect of the address mentioned in paragraph (a) or any other address).

(3)A person satisfies the previous residence condition if—

(a)the person has at some time in the past been resident in the United Kingdom,

(b)on the last day on which the person was resident in the United Kingdom, the person—

(i)was resident at an address at a place that is situated within the constituency, or

(ii)was not so resident but could have made a declaration under section 7B of the principal Act (a “declaration of local connection”) in respect of such an address, and

(c)subject to section 1B(4), the person has not at any time been included in any electoral register (whether in respect of the address mentioned in paragraph (b) or any other address).

(4)For the purposes of subsection (3)(b)(ii), it is to be assumed that section 7B of the principal Act was in force on the last day on which the person was resident in the United Kingdom.

(5)In this section—

  • declaration date” has the same meaning as in section 1;

  • electoral register” means—

    (a)

    a register of parliamentary electors, or

    (b)

    a register of local government electors (including a register of electors prepared for the purposes of local elections (within the meaning of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962)).]

Textual Amendments

F2Ss. 1-1E substituted for ss. 1, 2 (6.2.2023 for specified purposes) by Elections Act 2022 (c. 37), ss. 14(1), 67(1); S.I. 2023/115, reg. 2(b)(i)

[F21BBritish citizens overseas: entitlement to be registeredU.K.

(1)A person is entitled to be registered in a register of parliamentary electors in pursuance of a declaration made by the person under and in accordance with section 1C (an “overseas elector’s declaration”) if the following two conditions are satisfied.

(2)The first condition is that the register is for the constituency or part of the constituency within which is situated the place of the address specified in the declaration by virtue of—

(a)section 1C (2) (a) (where the person is seeking to be registered in reliance on the previous registration condition), or

(b)section 1C (3) (a) or (4) (where the person is seeking to be registered in reliance on the previous residence condition).

(3)The second condition is that the registration officer concerned is satisfied that, on the date on which the person makes the declaration, the person qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of the constituency.

(4)Where—

(a)a person applies to be registered in a register of parliamentary electors in reliance on the previous residence condition, and

(b)the registration officer concerned considers that insufficient evidence is available for the purpose of determining whether the person has at any time been included in any electoral register (within the meaning of section 1A),

the officer may disregard section 1A(3)(c) in determining whether the person satisfies the previous residence condition.

(5)An overseas elector’s declaration made by a person is of no effect unless received by the registration officer concerned within the period of 3 months beginning with the date on which the person makes the declaration.

(6)For the purposes of section 1A, where a person is registered in a register of parliamentary electors for a constituency or part of a constituency in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration, it is to be conclusively presumed that the person was not resident in the United Kingdom on the date on which the person made the declaration.

(7)See also sections 10ZC and 10A of the principal Act, which (among other things) contain provision about the making of applications for registration.]

Textual Amendments

F2Ss. 1-1E substituted for ss. 1, 2 (6.2.2023 for specified purposes) by Elections Act 2022 (c. 37), ss. 14(1), 67(1); S.I. 2023/115, reg. 2(b)(i)

[F21COverseas elector’s declarationU.K.

(1)An overseas elector’s declaration must—

(a)give the full name of the person making the declaration (“the declarant”),

(b)state the date of the declaration,

(c)state that the declarant is a British citizen,

(d)state that the declarant is not resident in the United Kingdom on the date of the declaration,

(e)state whether the declarant is seeking to be registered in reliance on the previous registration condition or the previous residence condition,

(f)contain any other prescribed information and satisfy any other prescribed requirements (which may include requirements for the declaration to be attested), and

(g)state that the declarant believes the matters stated in the declaration to be true.

(2)Where the declarant is seeking to be registered in reliance on the previous registration condition, the declaration must also—

(a)specify—

(i)the address in the United Kingdom in respect of which the declarant was included in an electoral register, and

(ii)when the declarant was last included in such a register in respect of that address, and

(b)state that since the declarant’s entry in that register in respect of that address ceased to have effect, the declarant has not been included in any electoral register (whether in respect of that or any other address).

(3)Where the declarant is seeking to be registered in reliance on the previous residence condition by virtue of section 1A(3)(b)(i), the declaration must also—

(a)specify—

(i)the address in the United Kingdom at which the declarant was resident, and

(ii)when the declarant was last resident at that address, and

(b)state that since being resident at that address, the declarant has not been resident at any other address in the United Kingdom.

(4)Where the declarant is seeking to be registered in reliance on the previous residence condition by virtue of section 1A(3)(b)(ii), the declaration must also specify an address in respect of which the declarant could have made a declaration of local connection on the last day on which the declarant was resident in the United Kingdom.

(5)An overseas elector’s declaration that specifies an address in Northern Ireland under subsection (2)(a), (3)(a) or (4) may, instead of or in addition to including a statement under subsection (1)(c), state that the declarant is an Irish citizen who—

(a)was born in Northern Ireland, and

(b)qualifies as a British citizen (whether or not the declarant identifies as such).

(6)If the declarant—

(a)makes an overseas elector’s declaration that specifies more than one address under subsection (2)(a), (3)(a) or (4), or

(b)makes two or more overseas elector’s declarations that bear the same date and specify different addresses in the United Kingdom under subsection (2)(a), (3)(a) or (4),

the declaration or declarations are void.

(7)The declarant may at any time cancel an overseas elector’s declaration made by the declarant.

(8)In this section—

  • electoral register” has the same meaning as in section 1A;

  • registered” means registered in a register of parliamentary electors.

(9)A person found abandoned in Northern Ireland as a new-born infant is, unless the contrary is shown, deemed for the purposes of subsection (5) to have been born in Northern Ireland.]

Textual Amendments

F2Ss. 1-1E substituted for ss. 1, 2 (6.2.2023 for specified purposes) by Elections Act 2022 (c. 37), ss. 14(1), 67(1); S.I. 2023/115, reg. 2(b)(i)

[F21DDuration of entitlement to be registeredU.K.

(1)Where a person is registered in a register of parliamentary electors in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration, the person is entitled to remain so registered until—

(a)the third 1 November following the date when the person’s entry on the register first takes effect (subject to any extension under subsections (2) and (3)), or

(b)if sooner, the occurrence of an event mentioned in subsection (4).

(2)Subsection (3) applies if—

(a)at any time during the 6 months ending with the last day of the initial registration period or of any further registration period, the registration officer concerned receives a declaration made by the person under and in accordance with section 1E (a “renewal declaration”), and

(b)the registration officer is satisfied that, on the date on which the person makes the renewal declaration, the person is entitled to remain registered in the register in pursuance of the overseas elector’s declaration.

(3)The person is entitled to remain registered in the register in pursuance of the overseas elector’s declaration until—

(a)the third 1 November following the day after the last day of the initial registration period or of the further registration period in question (subject to any further extension), or

(b)if sooner, the occurrence of an event specified in subsection (4).

(4)The events referred to in subsections (1)(b) and (3)(b) are—

(a)the registration officer determines in accordance with regulations that the person was not entitled to be registered or to remain registered (as the case may be);

(b)the registration officer determines in accordance with regulations—

(i)that the person was registered as the result of an application under section 10ZC or 10A(1) of the principal Act made by some other person, or

(ii)that the person’s entry has been altered as the result of an application under section 10ZD or 10A(4) of that Act made by some other person;

(c)the overseas elector’s declaration is cancelled (see section 1C(7));

(d)another entry made in respect of the person in any electoral register takes effect (in the case of a register of parliamentary electors, whether or not in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration).

(5)A renewal declaration made by a person is of no effect unless received by the registration officer concerned within the period of 3 months beginning with the date on which the person makes the declaration.

(6)In this section—

  • electoral register” has the same meaning as in section 1A;

  • initial registration period” means the period for which the person is entitled by virtue of subsection (1)(a) to remain registered;

  • further registration period” means a period for which the person is entitled by virtue of subsection (3)(a) to remain registered.

(7)Where a person is entitled to remain registered in a register of parliamentary electors for a constituency or part of a constituency by virtue of subsections (2) and (3), it is to be conclusively presumed for the purposes of section 1A that the person was not resident in the United Kingdom on the date on which the person made the renewal declaration in question.

(8)Where a person’s entitlement to remain registered in a register of parliamentary electors terminates by virtue of subsection (1) or (3), the registration officer concerned must remove the person’s entry from the register.]

[F21ERenewal declarationU.K.

(1)A renewal declaration must—

(a)give the full name and date of birth of the person making the declaration (“the declarant”),

(b)state the date of the declaration,

(c)state that the declarant is a British citizen,

(d)state that the declarant is not resident in the United Kingdom on the date of the declaration,

(e)contain any other prescribed information and satisfy any other prescribed requirements, and

(f)state that the declarant believes the matters stated in the declaration to be true.

(2)A renewal declaration must also—

(a)specify the address in respect of which the declarant is registered, and

(b)state that since the declarant was registered in respect of that address, no other entry has been made in respect of the declarant in any electoral register (whether in respect of the address mentioned in paragraph (a) or any other address).

(3)A renewal declaration that specifies an address in Northern Ireland under subsection (2)(a) may, instead of or in addition to the statement under subsection (1)(c), state that the declarant is an Irish citizen who—

(a)was born in Northern Ireland, and

(b)qualifies as a British citizen (whether or not the declarant identifies as such),

(and section 1C(9) applies as it applies for the purposes of section 1C(5)).

(4)If the declarant—

(a)makes a renewal declaration that specifies more than one address under subsection (2)(a), or

(b)makes two or more renewal declarations that bear the same date and specify different addresses under subsection (2)(a),

the declaration or declarations are void.

(5)In this section—

  • electoral register” has the same meaning as in section 1A;

  • registered” means registered in a register of parliamentary electors in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration.]

Textual Amendments

F2Ss. 1-1E substituted for ss. 1, 2 (6.2.2023 for specified purposes) by Elections Act 2022 (c. 37), ss. 14(1), 67(1); S.I. 2023/115, reg. 2(b)(i)

[F2[F42 Registration of British citizens overseas.U.K.

(1) A person is entitled to be registered in a register of parliamentary electors in pursuance of a declaration made by him under and in accordance with this section (an “ overseas elector’s declaration ”) if—

(a)the register is for the constituency orpart of the constituency within which is situated the place in the United Kingdom specified in the declaration in accordance with subsection (4) below as having been the address—

(i)in respect of which he was registered, or

(ii)at which he was resident,

as the case may be, and

(b)the registration officer concerned is satisfied that, on the relevant date, he qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of that constituency for which that register is prepared.

(2)A person registered in a register of parliamentary electors in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration is entitled to remain so registered until—

(a)the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the date when the entry in the register first takes effect,

[F5(aa)the registration officer determines in accordance with regulations that the person was not entitled to be registered,]

[F6(ab)the registration officer determines in accordance with regulations that the person was registered as the result of an application under section 10ZC of the principal Act made by some other person or that the person's entry has been altered as the result of an application under section 10ZD of that Act made by some other person,]

F5( b )the declaration is cancelled under subsection (5) below, or

(c)any entry made in respect of him in any register of parliamentary electors takes effect otherwise than in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration,

whichever first occurs; and, where the entitlement of such a person to remain so registered terminates by virtue of this subsection, the registration officer concerned shall remove that person’s entry from the register, unless he is entitled to remain registered in pursuance of a further overseas elector’s declaration.

(3)An overseas elector’s declaration must state—

(a)the date of the declaration,

(b)that the declarant is a British citizen,

(c)that the declarant is not resident in the United Kingdom on the relevant date, and

(d)when he ceased to be so resident or, in the case of a person relying on registration in pursuance of a service declaration, when he ceased to have a service qualification or, if later, ceased to be so resident,

and must contain such other information and satisfy such other requirements (which may include requirements for declarations to be attested and for the charging of fees in respect of their attestation) as may be prescribed.

[F7(3A)An overseas elector's declaration that specifies an address in Northern Ireland under subsection (4) may, instead of or in addition to including a statement under subsection (3)(b), state that the declarant is an eligible Irish citizen.]

(4)An overseas elector’s declaration must—

(a)show which set of conditions in section 1 of this Act the declarant claims to satisfy,

(b)in the case of the first set of conditions, specify the address in respect of which he was registered, and

(c)in the case of the second set of conditions, specify—

(i)the date of the declarant’s birth,

(ii)the address in the United Kingdom at which he was resident, and

(iii)the name of the parent or guardian on whose registration in respect of that address he relies, and whether the person named was a parent or guardian,

and may not, in the case of either set of conditions, specify more than one such address; and if the declarant makes more than one such declaration bearing the same date and specifying different addresses in the United Kingdom as the address in respect of which he was registered or, as the case may be, at which he was resident the declarations shall be void.

(5)An overseas elector’s declaration may be cancelled at any time by the declarant.

(6)An overseas elector’s declaration shall be of no effect unless it is received by the registration officer concerned within the period of three months beginning with the relevant date.

(7)For the purposes of section 1 of this Act, where a person is registered in a register of parliamentary electors for any constituency or part of a constituency in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration, it shall be conclusively presumed that he was not resident in the United Kingdom on the relevant date.

(8) In this section “ the relevant date ” has the meaning given by section 1(1)(a) of this Act. ]

[F8(9)In this section “eligible Irish citizen” means an Irish citizen who—

(a)was born in Northern Ireland, and

(b)qualifies as a British citizen (whether or not he identifies himself as such).

(10)A person found abandoned in Northern Ireland as a new-born infant is, unless the contrary is shown, deemed for the purposes of subsection (9) to have been born in Northern Ireland.]]

Textual Amendments

F2Ss. 1-1E substituted for ss. 1, 2 (6.2.2023 for specified purposes) by Elections Act 2022 (c. 37), ss. 14(1), 67(1); S.I. 2023/115, reg. 2(b)(i)

F4S. 2 substituted (16.2.2001) by 2000 c. 2, s. 8, Sch. 2 para. 3; S.I. 2001/116, art. 2(1) (subject to transitional provisions in art. 2(3)-(5))

F5S. 2(2)(aa) inserted (1.1.2007 for E.W.S.; 14.5.2008 for N.I.) by Electoral Administration Act 2006 (c. 22), ss. 12(9), 77(2); S.I. 2006/3412, art. 3, Sch. 1 para. 14(a) (subject to art. 6 and with Sch. 2); S.I. 2008/1316, arts. 2(1), 3(a)

F6S. 2(2)(ab) inserted (10.6.2014 for E.W.; 15.9.2014 for N.I.; 19.9.2014 for S.) by Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (c. 6), s. 27(1), Sch. 4 para. 21 (with Sch. 5); S.I. 2014/414, art. 5(m); S.I. 2014/2439, art. 2(l)

F7S. 2(3A) inserted (1.10.2014) by Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (c.22), s. 15(1)(a); S.I. 2014/2613, art. 2(2)(b)

F8Ss. 2(9)(10) inserted (1.10.2014) by Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (c.22), s. 15(1)(b); S.I. 2014/2613, art. 2(2)(b)

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C6S. 2 applied (with modifications) (16.2.2001) by S.I. 2001/400, reg. 13(3)(4), Sch. 4 Pt. II

F93 Extension of franchise for European Parliamentary elections.U.K.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4 Extension of franchise: consequential amendments.U.K.

F10(1). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

F10(2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

F10(3). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

F11(4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(5)In section 202 of that Act (interpretation) before the definition of “parliamentary election petition” there shall be inserted the following definition—

overseas elector’s declaration” has the meaning given by section 2 of the Representation of the People Act 1985.

(6)In Schedule 1 to that Act in rule 28 (issue of poll cards) at the end of paragraph (1) there shall be inserted the words “and a card shall not be sent to any person registered, or to be registered, in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration”.

(7)In Schedule 2 to that Act (regulations as to registration)—

(a)at the end of paragraph 4 there shall be inserted—

(2)Provisions as to the manner in which overseas electors’ declarations, and applications from persons making such declarations, are to be transmitted to the registration officer.; and

(b)after paragraph 5(1) there shall be inserted—

(1A)Provisions as to the evidence which shall or may be required, or be deemed sufficient or conclusive evidence, of a person satisfying any of the requirements for qualifying as an overseas elector in respect of any constituency.

Textual Amendments

F10S. 4(1)-(3) repealed (16.2.2001) by 2000 c. 2, s. 15(2), Sch. 7 Pt. I; S.I. 2001/116, art. 2(1) (subject to transitional provisions in art. 2(3)-(5))

F11S. 4(4) repealed (6.8.1995) by S.I. 1995/1948, reg. 5(2), Sch. 2 para. 9

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