Brits living in Czechia long-term regain their right to vote in the UK

A new change to the law abolishes a previous rule that forbade British citizens living outside the UK for 15 years to vote in domestic elections.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 17.01.2024 11:43:00 (updated on 17.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Brits who have been living in the Czech Republic for longer than 15 years have now regained their voting rights for British elections after a change in UK law.

Previously, an arbitrary “15-year rule” meant that, if a British citizen had lived abroad for at least 15 years, they would lose their right to vote in British general elections (despite maintaining their citizenship). The official enactment of the Elections Act 2022 Tuesday now means that British citizens around the world (around 3.5 million) can register to vote online, regardless of the duration of their stays overseas.

The UK government website has now been updated to facilitate overseas voter registration under more flexible rules. Brits will need to simply provide some proof of their last residence in the UK in order to get on the electoral roll.

According to the latest figures from the Czech Statistical Office, around 7,000 Brits reside in Czechia on a long-term basis.

To promote extended electoral participation, expatriate voters, upon registration, will be included in the electoral roll for up to three years. Additionally, registered electors will have the option to conveniently apply online for either a postal or proxy vote, further enhancing their engagement in the democratic process.

Simultaneously, the national Electoral Commission will launch a comprehensive advertising campaign named “All Abroad!” to motivate Britons residing overseas to register for voting.

The change brings the UK in line with major democracies such as the U.S., France, Italy, and New Zealand, all of which allow their citizens to vote in elections from abroad, regardless of how long they have lived outside their home countries. reader Charles Osborne – a Brit who has been residing in Czechia for 29 years – supports the decision. “British people living abroad should have the right to vote in UK elections because the actions of the British government have a direct effect on their lives.” He also believes that, because British politics has become more divisive in recent decades, this will draw many people to vote. 

The next UK general election is expected to be held in the second half of this year – the right-wing Conservative Party is seeking to secure a second term.

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