Voting in France, for Foreigners

EU citizens may vote in local municipal elections and European parliamentary elections in France. This page tells you how...

All EU citizens living as residents in France are legally entitled to vote in certain French elections, specifically:

Note: Registration to vote in either of these elections does not automatically qualify a voter for the other. Registration must be made separately for each.

Municipal Elections: The Voting Process

At a Municipal level, municipal councillors are elected for a term of six-years. The councillors then elect the mayor. The number of municipal councillors depends on the size of the population.

The system used is a two-ballot majority list poll, but the methods applied depend on the population size of the commune:

  1. In communes with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, voting for candidates on different lists (vote-splitting) and deletion of names (preference voting) are allowed and votes are counted by candidate: a mark may be placed at the name of the preferred candidate, and the name of a person specifically not wanted may be deleted. It is also possible to "write-in" the names of declared candidates preferred to those on the list.
  2. In communes with more than 1,000 inhabitants, the ballot paper must not be altered by the voter and any vote for a list on which names have been deleted is considered invalid, votes are counted by list and some seats are allocated proportionally. The ballot paper contains two lists of names, one for the municipaux and one for the communitaires.

Registering to vote

To be eligible to vote, a person must be at least 18 years old by the end of February of election year. They must not have been banned from voting in another EU state.

  • Find out more about the right to vote for a member of another EU state

Registration to vote must be made by the last working day in December of the year preceding elections.

Registration is made at the Town Hall (mairie) of the place of residence. Some communes allow registration online. The following is needed:

  • Valid proof of identity (passport)
  • Proof of nationality (a passport, or driver's licence with photograph)
  • Proof of address (a rent receipt, tax return, water or electricity bill)
  • A completed voter registration form, Cerfa n°12670*01

Note: A person may be registered to vote in municipal elections in more than one EU country at a time.

How to vote

On polling day, go to the appropriate polling station taking:

  • Voter registration card and proof of identity
  • Or proof of identity (only)
  • Or voter registration card (only) in communes with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants

Each voter is given an envelope and the ballot papers of all candidates.

  • Go into a polling booth and make the vote
  • Place chosen ballot paper in the envelope
  • On exiting the booth, before posting the vote in the ballot box, show voter registration card and identity document. The registration card will be stamped
  • Sign the register of voters
  • Put the vote into the ballot box

Voting machines

Voting machines are sometimes used. The process is the same in that on polling day the voter goes to the appropriate polling station taking:

  • Voter registration card and proof of identity
  • Or proof of identity (only)
  • Or voter registration card (only) in communes with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants

These documents should be shown before voting. The documents will be checked along with the inscription on the voting list.

  • The voting machine will open up and the voter is directed to the machine where the names of the candidates and a blank vote option will be listed
  • Select the voting option (this will appear on a screen) and if correct, validate it. If a mistake is made before validation then simple select the correct option

The machine will close after validation. After voting, sign the register of voters. The registration card will be stamped.

Absentee voting

A voter unable to attend a polling station on election day may vote by proxy.

Accepted reasons for absenteeism are:

  • Professional or family obligations
  • Health limitation (unable to leave the house/hospital)
  • Holiday out of the commune

How to vote by proxy

Prior to the elections, fill in the form Cerfa n° 14952*01 and go to the local mairie who will tell explain where to register a proxy vote. It will probably be at a magistrate's court or with a legal senior police officer at the police station.

  • Show suitable proof of reason for absence - for example, letter from an employer or medical certificate - and proof of identity.
  • Nominate a proxy who must be registered on the electoral roll of the commune.

European Parliamentary Elections

All EU citizens in may vote in the European Parliamentary Elections. A citizen may only vote once per election and only from the place in which they are registered to vote.

By voting in France, the EU citizen votes for their choice of French representative to the European Parliament. And after voting in France the EU national loses their right to vote in another State of the Union (anyone doing so may be fined and imprisoned).

Registration to vote

The registration form Cerfa n°12671*01 should be taken to the Mairie (Town Hall) of the place of residence. The following documents must be enclosed:

  • A copy of a valid identity document (passport)
  • A recent utility invoice (three months) with name and home address

Further Information