Healthplan Spain


Person placing voting slip in box 15 Year Voting Rule Lifted For UK Expats Living In Spain Spain News

Starting January 16th, British citizens residing in Spain will once again have the opportunity to register for voting in UK national elections. The long-standing restriction, known as the "15 years away rule," imposed in 2002, barred UK nationals living outside the country for more than 15 years from participating in national elections.

Advocacy groups representing the interests of British expatriates successfully campaigned for the abolition of this rule. The Elections Act of 2022, which officially became part of UK law on December 18th, 2023, marked the end of the controversial 15 years away rule.

Introduced by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the rule's removal on January 16th opens the door for approximately 3 million expatriates to exercise their right to vote in upcoming general elections.

Jane Golding, Co-Chair of the campaign group British in Europe, expressed enthusiasm for the historic change, stating, "This is a historic change after years of campaigning by ourselves and others to get the right to vote for all British citizens, regardless of where they live." Golding emphasised that the change ensures British citizens abroad will now have a constituency MP, providing them with representation on issues that matter to them.

British Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, called on the British community in Spain to disseminate information about the new voting rights, emphasising the importance of eligible individuals being aware of the changes and registering to cast their ballots when the time comes.

To register to vote, individuals over 18 residing abroad, including Irish citizens with British citizenship, can now add themselves to the voter register. The UK government's updated voter registration page reflects the new rules, and additional information is available on the Spanish citizens' rights group Bremain's website.

Eligible citizens will be required to provide their national insurance number and date of birth. Those with a British passport, whether current or expired, will need to scan it. Additionally, applicants must submit documentation confirming their full name and address, such as a UK driving licence, correspondence from HMRC or the Department for Work and Pensions, council tax statement, credit card or bank statement, utility or mobile phone bill, official letter from an insurance company, P45 or P60 form, payslip, bank/building society book, or local authority rent book.

It's important to note that the recent change in voting rights for British citizens living abroad doesn't extend to local elections in the UK. However, British citizens registered on the padrón (electoral roll) at their local Spanish town hall can participate in local elections in Spain whenever they occur.