Overseas Voting: Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa

Information about casting a ballot in elections in Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. Details on who is eligible, how to register and where to vote, including links to electoral commissions...


Canadians living and working outside of Canada may apply to be added to the International Register of Electors if they:

  • are aged 18 or older
  • have resided in Canada at any time

In 2014 the rule stating that a Canadian overseas could only vote if they had been away for less than five years was overthrown. It is now possible to vote from outside Canada as long as the voter is a citizen and has lived in Canada at some point in their lives.

A mail-in special ballot voting kit is sent to all eligible electors in the International Register when an election is called.

Completed Applications for Registration and Special Ballot forms and supporting documents can be returned by fax, post or courier.

  • By fax:
    613-998-8393 or 1-800-363-4796 (toll-free in Canada and the United States)
  • By courier:
    Elections Canada
    30 Victoria Street
    Gatineau QC K1A 0M6
  • By post:
    Elections Canada
    PO Box 9830 Stn T
    Ottawa, ON K1G 5W7


In order to vote in Irish elections, a voter must be resident in Ireland and their name must be entered on the Electoral Register. A new Electoral Register is compiled each year and is published on 1 November.

The only way an Irish citizen may vote is to first have their names entered on the Electoral Register. A new Electoral Register is compiled each year and is published on 1 November. Only those who reside in Ireland may be included.

This means that an Irish citizen living abroad cannot vote in Irish elections. The only exception made to this rule is for Irish officials (and their spouses) stationed abroad. Voters in this category may apply to submit a postal vote. There are no facilities for in-person voting outside Ireland.

  • Applications to be included on the Postal Voters list must be received no later than November 25. Applying to vote by post is a separate process from registering to vote
  • For detailed information see the Irish Citizens Information website

New Zealand

Eligible citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand may vote overseas in general elections. In order to be eligible, a voter must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older AND
  • Enrolled on the electoral register AND
  • Have lived in New Zealand continuously for one year or more at some time in their lives

Voter registration

Enrolment and voting can take place outside New Zealand provided certain requirements are met. The voter must be a New Zealand citizen and have visited New Zealand within the last three years, or be a permanent resident of New Zealand and have visited New Zealand in the last 12 months.

  • It is possible to enrol online in either English or Maori.

Note: Enroling online requires a RealMe username and password. RealMe is a government electronic identifier used to log in to a number of services

Voting from overseas

A New Zealand voter overseas may download and upload their voting papers via the Elections website. It is not possible to email them. Voting papers are available online for a limited time on the Elections website in the lead-up to any general election or by-election. Note that the direct link varies according to the election type and date.

A voter who has opted to have their name listed on the unpublished (private) electoral roll will not be able to download voting papers. Instead, an application for overseas voting must be printed, completed and returned either by post or fax. If unable to print the application, a voter may email the information requested on the overseas voting application form directly to the Electoral Office.

  • Full postal, email, and fax information is printed on the application for overseas voting. The exact form varies depending on the election date and type. A direct link is made available prior to the election via the Elections homepage

South Africa

Elections in South African are managed by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

South Africans who are 18 years or older, living and working outside of the country, may vote in national general elections providing they are registered voters and on the electoral roll.

Voter registration

South African citizens over the age of 16, who have a green, bar-coded ID book may register to vote, although no vote may be cast until 18 years old. It is possible to check your voter registration details online.

Note: Registration may be done in-person at an IEC office or a South African Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. Re-registration is not required for voters living abroad.

Voting from abroad

The voter must complete a Notification for Overseas Votes (VEC 10) form, and send it to the IEC before the deadline specified on the election timetable. These forms are made available before elections once election dates have been announced.

Voting then takes place at a South African Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in the normal place of residence, on a date prior to the actual elections and set by the Independent Electoral Commission.

Note: The voting date is fixed and no exceptions will be made.

The local South African Consulate will have full information on the procedures for overseas voting when an election is called. Voters will need to present a valid South African passport.

Further information